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Sundar Pichai Sees Google’s Future in the Smartest Cloud

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Two days before delivering the keynote at Google I/O, the company’s annual State of the Union address, Sundar Pichai is worried about losing his voice.

Sitting at the coffee table inside his remarkably spartan office at company headquarters, the Google CEO speaks softly, even by his standards. Step by careful step, he explains the major themes that will run through his keynote speech, and at first, they seem less weighty than they should, considering they represent the near-future of the world’s largest internet business. That’s partly because Pichai isn’t feeling too well and partly because those themes aren’t all that different from the themes that drove last year’s speech. Google, he keeps saying, is now an “AI-first company.” But about halfway through this chat, he reveals that the company will unveil a new chip specifically designed to power the new wave of artificial intelligence. However softly he speaks, this news will echo loudly across the tech industry.

Yes, Google unveiled an AI chip at last year’s conference. But this is something different. According to Pichai, Google’s new chip is far more powerful and far more versatile than the one that came before, designed not only to run the latest machine learning services but to train them as well. No one else has really built a chip like that, though others, including Intel, are scrabbling to build such tech. And this time, Pichai says, Google will share its AI chip with the whole world. As he sees it, this is part of the company’s wider effort to democratize artificial intelligence, to put it in the hands of everyone.

“One of the most exciting things we all can do is demystify machine learning and AI. It’s important for this to be accessible by all people,” he tells me in the I/O greenroom just after his Wednesday morning keynote, stage music pumping on the other side of the wall, the excitement and verve back in his voice. “That journey matters.”

Still, when I ask if Google will sell this chip on the open market, he says no. That would democratize things a little too much. Rather than sell the chip itself, Google will offer its new silicon to the world via a cloud computing service. Anyone will be free to use it—but only if they use the Google Cloud. “We view our state-of-the-art machine learning and AI technologies as a differentiator for the cloud platform,” he says. “I think it will help propel the platform forward.” In other words, he hopes the new chip and the new service will set Google’s cloud business apart from services offered by its main rivals, including Amazon and Microsoft, the unnamed competitive threat underlying his I/O keynote.

A New Wave

Between its two AI labs—Google Brain, based at company headquarters in Silicon Valley, and DeepMind, a London AI startup Google purchased a little more than three years ago—Google is leading the new wave of artificial intelligence research and development so rapidly changing entire industries and economies. And it’s

Read More At:  https://www.wired.com/2017/05/sundar-pichai-sees-googles-future-smartest-cloud/

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