Google Announces “AI First” and New Hardware

By:  Evan Burnham

On Wednesday, Google unveiled new hardware to the public in the first step of their “AI-first” business plan. New products include two editions of the Pixel smartphone, a new laptop named Pixelbook, and new versions of the Google Home speaker system. With the launch of these products, Google enters a hotly contested competition with companies like Apple and Amazon to see which tech giant will dominate the future of AI-based technology and hardware.

All of Google’s new products integrate Google Assistant into their design. The second edition Pixel phone allows users to easily interact with Google Assistant by simply tapping both sides of the phone at once. The newly unveiled Pixelbook similarly makes it easy to summon Google Assistant, and includes Pixelbook Pen: a stylus used to give Google Assistant instructions while in tablet mode. Another newly released product, the Pixel Buds, can translate conversations between two people in real time using AI-based Google Translate software. Google believes that Assistant, and other AI-based user interfaces, are the future of the technology industry. The seamless connection between Assistant and the new products released was Google’s main motivation in developing their own hardware, and not relying on third party companies like they have in the past.

The release of Google’s new hardware is just the first step in Google’s long term, AI-first plan. Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, talked at length about how AI will revolutionize how consumers interact with technology. Pichai doesn’t want to just include AI software as an add-on to Google hardware products, instead he wants to develop hardware that is completely based on AI and utilizes AI in all aspects of functioning. This focus on AI comes as fewer innovations in hardware are being made. AI capabilities have progressed at a much faster rate than hardware has in recent years, which will only increase tech companies focus on integrating AI into their systems.

The industry wide trend toward AI has brought both praise and backlash. Benefits of AI  technology include more customizable user interfaces, with personalized news feeds, fitness apps that give specific advice on how to improve health, and maps applications to help people find open parking spots. However, critics have raised many issues with AI technology. These criticisms include AI’s inability to filter fake news from real news, an issue that came to light after Google’s news feed promoted false stories about the Las Vegas shooting. These concerns about AI are unlikely to stop or slow the industry wide trend toward AI based technology, but they may force large tech companies to address these flaws and take ownership of them.

Overall, Google’s initiative to focus on AI-based products fits in with recent technology trends. Improvements in machine learning algorithms and computers’ processing power will only augment AI’s power in the future, and any tech company wanting to stay competitive will have to include AI in their platform in some form. While Google’s line of Pixel products may not revolutionize the smartphone or laptop market, the announcement shows that Google is serious about staying at the forefront of technology innovation.

 

Sources

Filed in: Technology

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