This week Google introduced a lot of new hardware to us. In one two hour window we saw the likes of two new phones, the Google Pixel and Pixel XL, a new Wi-Fi solution, Google Wi-Fi, and a connected home device, Google Home. With Google Home and the new Pixel phones, we also saw the scope of what Google plans with Google Assistant. Google Assistant is an artificial intelligence driven tool designed to give you information, both general and personal, just a voice command away.
The question facing us, as humans, is how do we adapt in what is clearly a shift to an Artificial Intelligence world? Google by their own admission have 70 billion data points in their knowledge graph. That is anything from a point on a map to a restaurant that is tied into OpenTable to when you are traveling to London next. It is a vast amount of information. Equally, if there is one truth to artificial intelligence it is that it always wants (needs) more information. The more information the better because it gets smarter, more personal and more accurate.
With so many companies driving AI, not just Google, the question isn’t a matter of if it will happen. It is a question of how fast it will progress. I dare say it will be neck-breaking fast. What we see in Google Home and Google Assistant today will be far richer and more knowledgeable in just 12 months from now. By 2018, AI will be so intertwined with our world that we will no longer think about it being there.
Perhaps the more accurate question then is if you trust Google’s AI? I say yes. If there is one company that truly understands the power of information and personal data, it is Google and while they will surely use that data for profit, they equally understand that any leak of that data would be catastrophic for the company. They are the best equipped not only to provide the best AI experience but protect us and our data from those who want to dismiss it.
The power of Google’s AI has been making itself known for some time now. It has started with simple suggestions in Google Search and has evolved into things like Google Now. Google
Now looks at things like your email and calendar and provides you a constant flow of information about your day. This is made all the more powerful with the OK Google command which will tell me what my day looks like as well as what the weather is like today, tomorrow and when my next flight is leaving.
All of this is powered behind the scenes by Google AI and Google Home and Google Assistant are the next evolution of this consumer friendly front end to Artificial Intelligence. With Google Home, you will have an always listening device in your home. It will be listening and waiting for you to give it a command, much like Amazon’s Echo. As you give it commands, it learns you. It learns your behaviors. It learns about the things you are interested in. It learns about your schedule.
It learns you.
For some, this is a step too far. Some will resist this as an invasion of privacy or worse, a paranoid reflex that this could somehow be put out in the open. After all, if you ask Google Home to play your favorite porn video on your TV via Chromecast, you probably don’t want that information out there for the world to see.
So the real question at hand is a matter of trust. Do you trust Google? Not do you trust their Artificial Intelligence. AI, remember, is going to be here one way or another from one company or another. No, the question is do you trust Google?
I believe that of all the companies aiming for your AI information, Google is the best positioned not only to provide the best experience but to protect that in some cases highly personal data from the outside world. Google, as a company, has always been about information and organizing that information into a useful format for us mortals. That started with the web, migrated to mobile, and is now at the dawn of AI. They have countless trillions of bits of information from all over the world, from all types of users and all times of sources to shape their AI. Microsoft, Amazon and Apple are no where near where Google is in scope of the data and information.
But with great power comes great responsibility. Google will be gaining exponential amounts of new and important data as their AI evolves from the input of the likes of Google Home and Google Assistant. The imperative, therefore, is that Google must, with 100% accuracy, protect that data. Not one byte can be leaked. Ever. If there was ever a data breach of Google and the information collected from users and other sources were exposed, it would so cripple the company that you could argue they would never recover.
Google, of anyone, understands this imperative of keeping data secure. They have built hardend data centers globally and have one of the most advanced network intrusion detection solutions in the world. The details of this are very much kept from public eye. After all, telling people how you protect their data essentially tells hackers where to look to try to get to that data. The first rule of data protection is to not talk about data protection.
The risk for Google leaking anything that their AI has learned is simply too great and they will do whatever they must to protect it. That, in itself, is why I trust them with personal data.
Now make no mistake readers. Google does and will continue to use information it learned from me (and you) through Google Assistant, Google Search and other sources to continual improve their AI. They will also profit from that data because they will need to drive a key revenue maker for the company, adverts. But I warn you not to mix these two things to much. Just because they use information to provide more accurate adverts and other information to you does not mean it is publicly out there. This information is personal. What information Google provides me in Google Now today is different than what it provides you. It is very different for me than what it provides my wife who lives in the same house. Why? Because we have different interests, different likes and need different information. My wife really could give a rats ass about Android devices. Seriously. She is an iPhone users and she isn’t overly interested in the mobile industry. So for her, Google doesn’t give her a ton of information about the latest phone or gadget like it does me.
That’s because, all along, Google has been personal. Google made it clear yesterday that they were building everyone a personal Google. The thing is, it has been going on for years. This is not a new project. This is a project that has reached the point where it can be named, branded and exposed to everyone.
With their deep machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, along with their understanding of the critical nature of data protection, I firmly believe that Google is the most trustworthy of my personal data. I believe their AI will serve me best while I, in turn, help in the education process of this infant of new technology. I’m not blind, I know there is risk. I know there is risk in exposing so much of my personal life to machines. But equally I know that there will be a point that Google Assistant will become my personal assistant. It will know me an and will be able to help me get through an ever increasing demand cycle on my time and energy every day. It will, arguably, help me find the balance between life, work and technology. That is the irony. That is also the promise.
Everyone reading this will have to decide if they want to trust Google with their personal information. I can’t make that decision for you. But I think of anyone they are the best positioned to protect it yet leverage it to create an Artificial Intelligence world that is personal and powerful.