Google CEO Sundar Pichai is big on artificial intelligence. In fact, he says that it constitutes the current “journey” that he and Google are on. Pichai wants to transition Google from a mobile-first company to an A.I.-first company, and it’s not hard to see why, especially after the things that were revealed during the first day of 2016’s annual Google I/O festival. One of the bigger reveals during the keynote that kicked off the event was an entirely new A.I., called Assistant, that’s made to understand humans’ intentions better than any A.I. before it and, using a conversational interface, sit at the center of the products that help you go about your daily life.
Historically, Google has always been about tweaking formulas, doing something different and unique to revolutionize existing markets or products. They did it with Search, which took off and built their empire, as they did with Gmail, which now boasts over a billion users. With some of the products announced today, like messaging app Allo and their new smart speaker and smart home hub, Google Home, the secret sauce, so to speak, will be Google’s advanced A.I. Driven by machine learning, Google’s new A.I. is intended to use a combination of context and prior knowledge to figure out a user’s requests, as well as feed them relevant information and offers to get things done, both on demand and preemptively.
The Assistant’s many functions can play a number of roles. In Google Home, Assistant may see that you’re home from work, turn on the lights and the TV, then tune the TV to a show you normally catch. In Allo, the Assistant in the background can learn how you type and speak and begin to sound like you, from using your favorite emoji more often to having things you commonly respond with at hand as quick responses. With machine learning capabilities at its disposal, the Assistant can not only learn its user, it can learn new tricks by combining its normal repertoire with new things it’s learning and organically reasoning the best way to reach a desired outcome. Of course, this revolution isn’t happening overnight; Pichai even said so himself, saying of the company’s new A.I. focus, “Just like we’ve built search for a while, this is something we’re looking at building for many years,”