Google Blogoscoped

Monday, September 15, 2008

Google on Artificial Intelligence

The Ignorance is Futile blog collected many quotes by Google employees on the subject of Artificial Intelligence. I find one of the most interesting quotes to be the one from 2005 in relation to Google Book Search, formerly called Google Print (and before that, code-named Project Ocean). A Google employee is quoted to have said, “We are not scanning all those books to be read by people ... We are scanning them to be read by an AI.”

Now, AI is a bit of a fuzzy term; as algorithms progress (especially the kind working on large data sets – like the web) we come to accept more and more as everyday technology which we might have considered a distant, magical AI decades ago. Now by some definitions, a real AI is the kind of thing that convinces you it’s a human talking – the Turing test, proposed in the 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” describes the experiment for this, as written in Wikipedia: “a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with one human and one machine, each of which try to appear human; if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, then the machine is said to pass the test.”

Google’s focus here seems to be clear: mine more and more data more intelligently to provide better services – which to connect with ads, or perhaps in the future other ways to make revenue. Such a service must not necessarily appear to be a human, Turing-test-style, to attract users. We often do hope for the service to understand and speak human language, but we wouldn’t want an AI telling us it will get back to our question in two hours after properly researching the subject, and that, by the way, it was kind of offended that we asked it such an easy question in the first place. Rather, we expect answers in non-human split-seconds, and because we know we’re talking to a machine, not a human, we also may feel anonymous when using the service, offering a much deeper glimpse into our personality than we’d otherwise would.

Two years ago, an internal strategic document by Google titled “Big Goals and Directions - 2006” revealed that Google wants to have the world’s top AI research laboratory. I wonder if they consider that goal achieved by now?

[Thanks Siggi!]


Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About


This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!