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Google Search – Deep Learning Revives the Neural Net Revolution

Follow up to previous posting – Google – Still in the Search, How Google Search Dealt With Mobile – The Never Ending Search by Steven Levy, see also parts two, three and four of this series:

  • Part 2 – Google’s Secret Study To Find Out Our Needs – To improve search, ask people what they don’t ask for themselves -“Every year since 2011 Google has run an annual study to learn what people really, really want to know, whether it’s something Google provides or not. It’s called Daily Information Needs, but the psychologists at Google involved with the project just call it DIN. Here’s how the DIN study works: Google recruits subjects who agree to report their information needs to Google on demand. Eight times a day Google randomly pings them, and they instantly respond with the questions they want answered at that moment. At the end of the day, subjects compile a summary of their needs, noting what, if anything, they did to get their questions answered and whether they were successful. The study began with 50 people in 2011, grew to 1200 in 2012, and this year has a similar number. In addition to those US numbers, Google runs the study in a number of other countries.”
  • Part 3 – Internet to Neural Net – “About ten years ago, in Geoffrey Hinton’s lab at the University of Toronto, he and some other researchers made a breakthrough that suddenly made neural nets the hottest thing in AI. Not only Google but other companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and IBM began frantically pursuing the relatively minuscule number of computer scientists versed in the black art of organizing several layers of artificial neurons so that the entire system could be trained, or even train itself, to divine coherence from random inputs, much in a way that a newborn learns to organize the data pouring into his or her virgin senses. With this newly effective process, dubbed Deep Learning, some of the long-standing logjams of computation (like being able to see, hear, and be unbeatable at Breakout) would finally be untangled. The age of intelligent computers systems — long awaited and long feared — would suddenly be breathing down our necks. And Google search would work a whole lot better. This breakthrough will be crucial in Google Search’s next big step: understanding the real world to make a huge leap in accurately giving users the answers to their questions as well as spontaneously surfacing information to satisfy their needs. To keep search vital, Google must get even smarter.
  • Part 4 – In the race to recruit the best AI talent, Google scored a coup by getting the team led by a former video game guru and chess prodigy – The Deep Mind of Demi Hassabis: “From the day in 2011 that Demis Hassabis co-founded DeepMind—with funding by the likes of Elon Musk—the UK-based artificial intelligence startup became the most coveted target of major tech companies. In June 2014, Hassabis and his co-founders, Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman, agreed to Google’s purchase offer of $400 million. Late last year, Hassabis sat down with Backchannel to discuss why his team went with Google—and why DeepMind is uniquely poised to push the frontiers of AI. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.”


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