The level of computational intelligence required to understand a person writing or speaking (in several new languages, no less) is crucially important as the interfaces on our devices become more personal. And of course, there's Google Lens, which seeks to understand the physical artifacts in front of a camera and present the user with ways to interact with it. Like we did so many ages ago, AI is crawling out of the dark.
The technological concept isn't new — just look at Google Goggles. What's new is the extent to which we're able to find meaning in data that looks like noise. Consider the announcement of next-generation Tensor Processing Units (woven into Google's cloud no less). It more-or-less means the massive data crunching needed to train AIs to play poker or tell hot dogs from non-hot dogs won't take as much time.
TensorFlow is already one of the leading platforms for teaching AIs, and doubling-down on hardware that makes such growth easier is both impactful and financially savvy. TensorFlow will likely shape the way you get things done whether you're aware of it or not. With TensorFlow Lite -- a scaled-down version of the software library meant to run on mobile devices -- the company believes it has found a way to make Android phones even better at interacting with you
"We think these new capabilities will help power a next generation of on-device speech processing, visual search, augmented reality, and more," said Android engineering chief Dave Burke on-stage.
The boundaries between some of these projects are mostly conceptual. Just look at Google's push for standalone VR headsets. I personally think Google will run into trouble positioning these devices between low-cost fare like Gear VR and the premium, Oculus Rift-level stuff. But squeezing all that intelligence and processing power into a single device is endlessly intriguing, and it doesn't take a huge leap to see how Google's Lens and TensorFlow Lite could make future self-contained headsets — ones that focus more on AR, at least — remarkably useful.
Google didn't rock our faces with new phones, it offered a vision of the future that feels both full of potential and surprisingly imminent. Tell me that's not exciting.
For all the latest news and updates from Google I/O 2017, follow along here