In Brief
In an earnings call, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai highlighted the benefits of artificial intelligence. Google got in early on AI and has since used the technology to power their Google Assistant and improve their Google Photos and Maps services.

Google’s AI Investment

Google is fully aware of artificial intelligence’s (AI) potential — DeepMind’s AlphaGo AI is one of today’s most well-known examples of its capabilities — and in an earnings call this week, the company made it clear they believe the future of technology lies with AI.

During the call, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet (Google’s parent company), praised the company’s decision to invest in AI early, highlighting the concept’s trajectory from “a research project to something that can solve new problems for a billion people a day,” according to an Inverse report.

Pichai went on to note how Google’s AI research is already producing products that utilize machine learning, such as the Google Clips camera that debuted earlier this month. “Even though we are in the early days of AI, we are already rethinking how to build products around machine learning,” said Pichai. “It’s a new paradigm compared to mobile-first software, and I’m thrilled how Google is leading the way.”

Pichai went on to note the performance of Google Assistant since its implementation. While the AI powering it may not be smarter than a fifth grader, it continues to learn and help people “get things done in the real world,” said the CEO. Work done by DeepMind this year to add imagination and teach AI to manage real-world tasks has almost certainly been a factor in Google Assistant’s success.

Last month, Google Cloud Chief Scientist Fei-Fei Li said that AI needs to be more human-centered, noting that making that shift would lead to better communication and collaboration between humans and AI. Li’s words may have impacted the way Google’s AI is used to improve services, such as Google Photos and Google Maps.

“500 million people now use the machine learning smarts of Google Photos to manage and share their memories,” said Pichai. “The billion-plus people using Google Maps now get thoughtfully contextual information like how to find parking where they are going.”

AI’s Future

Consumers aren’t the only ones benefiting from artificial intelligence. According to Pichai, businesses are also starting to learn how to use AI and machine learning to grow and remain relevant in a world that’s embracing more powerful technology.

White House AI Report: Everything You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Google isn’t exempt from this, either. The company has created an AI that’s better at making AI systems than human engineers are. It’s an exciting development, to be sure, though it and AlphaGo Zero, which has self-learning capabilities, may cause some concerns, such as those held by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Artificial intelligence is here to stay, and Pichai’s comments both highlight the technology’s current capabilities while also acknowledging its future. AI’s effect on jobs and the ethics of the tech still need to be addressed, but provided we can control it, AI is poised to lift humanity to new heights and radically change the world for the better.