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Google: Democratisation of AI tech to ‘greatly improve’ quality of life

Fei-Fei Li, Google's chief scientist of artificial intelligence and machine learning, talks up societal benefits of making artificial intelligence tools and technologies accessible to all

The democratisation of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies will create the greatest improvements in quality of life the world has ever seen, claims Google.

During the opening day keynote at the Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco, Fei-Fei Li, the company’s chief scientist for AI and machine learning technologies, spoke at length about the benefits society stands to gain through lowering the barriers to AI adoption.

The technologies stand to have a transformational impact on the way processes are carried out in the financial services, education, manufacturing, healthcare, retail and agriculture industries, to name a few – if organisations in these sectors can access it.

“As technology reaches more people, its impact becomes more profound. This is why the next step for AI must be democratisation, by lowering the barriers to entry and making it available to the largest possible community of developers, users and enterprises,” she said.

“It requires rare expertise and resources few companies can afford on their own. This is why cloud is the ideal platform for AI.”

Particularly, said Fei-Fei Li, when it comes to drawing on the global reach of the Google Cloud Platform to put AI technologies in the hands of everyday users all over the world.

“The Google Cloud Platform already delivers our customers’ applications to over a billion users every day. That’s a lot of participation,” she added.

“Combining the massive reach of this platform with the power of AI and making it available to everyone, we stand to witness a greater improvement in quality of life than in any other time in history.”

Investing in AI

Making AI and machine learning technologies accessible to everyone has been a recurring theme of discussion in the cloud computing industry of late, with both Microsoft and Amazon Web Services using their annual user conferences to shed light on the work they are doing in this area.

In the case of Google, it’s backing its rhetoric on the topic through investments in AI services that will be made available to Google Cloud Platform over the course of the coming year, she added.

Included in this are a series of existing application programming interfaces (APIs) that the company is either extending the functionality of or is the throes of beta testing, as Li outlined in the keynote.

Read more about artificial intelligence and machine learning

These include a new Cloud Video Intelligence API, which sorts through video data to pick out specific images or scenes that users are looking for without requiring them to watch the footage.  

The API, currently in private beta, is built using Tensorflow and is trained on data from Google-owned video-sharing site, YouTube.

“Videos are among the most prevalent form of internet data. YouTube alone sees hundreds of hours of videos uploaded every minute,” said Fei-Fei Li.

For this reason, the video intelligence API’s creation marks a significant advancement in the field of AI technologies, she added.

“Understanding the rich content of videos has been a tremendous technology challenge for many years. In fact, many of us have often considered videos to be the dark matter of the digital of the digital universe.”  

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