Google’s #AI moonshot

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Searcher-in-chief: Google CEO Sundar Pichai

“Building general artificial intelligence in a way that helps people meaningfully—I think the word moonshot is an understatement for that,” Pichai says, sounding startled that anyone might think otherwise. “I would say it’s as big as it gets.”

Officially, Google has always advocated for collaboration. But in the past, as it encouraged individual units to shape their own destinies, the company sometimes operated more like a myriad of fiefdoms. Now, Pichai is steering Google’s teams toward a common mission: infusing the products and services they create with AI.Pichai is steering Google’s teams toward a common mission: infusing the products and services they create with AI.

To make sure that future gadgets are built for the AI-first era, Pichai has collected everything relating to hardware into a single group and hired Rick Osterloh to run it.

BUILD NOW, MONETIZE LATER

Jen Fitzpatrick, VP, Geo: "The Google Assistant wouldn't exist without Sundar—it's a core part of his vision for how we're bringing all of Google together."

Jen Fitzpatrick, VP, Geo: “The Google Assistant wouldn’t exist without Sundar—it’s a core part of his vision for how we’re bringing all of Google together.”

If Google Assistant is indeed the evolution of Google search, it means that the company must aspire to turn it into a business with the potential to be huge in terms of profits as well as usage. How it will do that remains unclear, especially since Assistant is often provided in the form of a spoken conversation, a medium that doesn’t lend itself to the text ads that made Google rich.

“I’ve always felt if you solve problems for users in meaningful ways, there will become value as part of solving that equation,” Pichai argues. “Inherently, a lot of what people are looking for is also commercial in nature. It’ll tend to work out fine in the long run.”

“When you can align people to common goals, you truly get a multiplicative effect in an organization,” he tells me as we sit on a couch in Sundar’s Huddle after his Google Photos meeting. “The inverse is also true, if people are at odds with each other.” He is, as usual, smiling.

The company’s aim, he says, is to create products “that will affect the lives of billions of users, and that they’ll use a lot. Those are the kind of meaningful problems we want to work on.”

Source: Fast Company

 

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