elrob + google   132

It’s Good to Be Bad If You’re a Bank - Bloomberg
That would probably be a sufficient answer in itself—“we already use people’s data to make vastly more money than most hedge fund managers can dream of, why mess around with securities regulation?”—though I still find it a little counterintuitive that advertising all of the world’s goods and services would be more lucrative than owning them. But Schmidt’s answer strikes me as underestimating the level of … not trust, certainly, but resignation? … that people feel toward big tech companies. “We can’t exploit people’s search and email data for profit, they would go crazy,” is just an odd thing to think when you are running Google.
Google  levine  best-of-2018 
9 weeks ago by elrob
How Gmail Happened: The Inside Story of Its Launch 10 Years Ago
In the end, Gmail ended up running on three hundred old Pentium III computers nobody else at Google wanted. That was sufficient for the limited beta rollout the company planned, which involved giving accounts to a thousand outsiders, allowing them to invite a couple of friends apiece, and growing slowly from there.
may 2018 by elrob
The Case Against Google - The New York Times
Many of the most important antitrust lawsuits in American history — against IBM, Alcoa, Kodak and others — were rooted in claims that one company had made technological discoveries that allowed it to outpace competitors.

In 2006, Google instituted a shift in its search algorithm, known as the Big Daddy update, which penalized websites with large numbers of subpages but few inbound links. A few years later, another shift, known as Panda, penalized sites that copied text from other websites.

The F.T.C.’s decision, according to agency insiders, was motivated in part by a debate that has also sparked battles within antitrust courts over the last 40 years: Should the law protect consumers or encourage competition? They’re not always synonymous. Similarly, few users are kvetching about Google; it’s primarily other tech firms.

Rather, antitrust has always been about progress. Antitrust prosecutions are part of how technology grows. Antitrust laws ultimately aren’t about justice, as if success were something to be condemned; instead, they are a tool that society uses to help start-ups build on a monopolist’s breakthroughs without, in the process, being crushed by the monopolist. And then, if those start-ups prosper and make discoveries of their own, they eventually become monopolies themselves, and the cycle starts anew.
Google  Competition-policy 
may 2018 by elrob
Google Employees Resign in Protest Against Pentagon Contract
Google has emphasized that its AI is not being used to kill, but the use of artificial intelligence in the Pentagon’s drone program still raises complex ethical and moral issues for tech workers and for academics who study the field of machine learning.

In addition to the petition circulating inside Google, the Tech Workers Coalition launched a petition in April demanding that Google abandon its work on Maven and that other major tech companies, including IBM and Amazon, refuse to work with the...
google  ethics  ai-policy 
may 2018 by elrob
Google AI Blog: Google Duplex: An AI System for Accomplishing Real-World Tasks Over the Phone
One of the key research insights was to constrain Duplex to closed domains, which are narrow enough to explore extensively. Duplex can only carry out natural conversations after being deeply trained in such domains. It cannot carry out general conversations.

At the core of Duplex is a recurrent neural network (RNN) designed to cope with these challenges, built using TensorFlow Extended (TFX). To obtain its high precision, we trained Duplex’s RNN on a corpus of anonymized phone conversation data. The network uses the output of Google’s automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology, as well as features from the audio, the history of the conversation, the parameters of the conversation (e.g. the desired service for an appointment, or the current time of day) and more. We trained our understanding model separately for each task, but leveraged the shared corpus across tasks. Finally, we used hyperparameter optimization from TFX to further improve the model.

To train the system in a new domain, we use real-time supervised training. This is comparable to the training practices of many disciplines, where an instructor supervises a student as they are doing their job, providing guidance as needed, and making sure that the task is performed at the instructor’s level of quality. In the Duplex system, experienced operators act as the instructors. By monitoring the system as it makes phone calls in a new domain, they can affect the behavior of the system in real time as needed. This continues until the system performs at the desired quality level, at which point the supervision stops and the system can make calls autonomously.
NLP  google  best-of-2018 
may 2018 by elrob
2017 Founders’ Letter - Investor Relations - Alphabet
The Pentium IIs we used in the first year of Google performed about 100 million floating point operations per second. The GPUs we use today perform about 20 trillion such operations — a factor of about 200,000 difference — and our very own TPUs are now capable of 180 trillion (180,000,000,000,000) floating point operations per second.
google  AI  growth 
may 2018 by elrob
Google eyes Trinidad and Tobago to strengthen digital capacity | Loop News
The Honourable Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development has announced on Wednesday that the Latin America and the Caribbean Network Information Centre (LACNIC) and Google have selected Trinidad and Tobago as one of three countries to kick off training initiatives aimed at strengthening digital capabilities in the region.
google  gspp  t&t 
may 2018 by elrob
Open, Closed, and Privacy – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
Of course Google’s critics are not criticizing Chat for being open; they are, like Mossberg, criticizing it for being “insecure” — that is, not end-to-end encrypted like iMessage or WhatsApp. That, though, is the rub: being “secure” and being “open” are incompatible.

Services can and do differentiate based on how long they keep that metadata; Signal, for example, promises to flush metadata as soon as possible, whereas WhatsApp — which uses encryption developed by Signal — keeps such data indefinitely.

Google has always been anything but open when it came to its proprietary technology or its money-making ad apparatus (of which user data plays an important part). Its insistence that Android be open was based not on principle but on sound strategy: challengers always want to commoditize their complements, and for Google, smartphones themselves were complements to Search and ads.

The implication is quite far-reaching: being open, at least to the extent that openness involved user data of any sort, is increasingly unacceptable; that new companies and user benefits might result from that data no longer matters, a fate that all-too-often befalls the not-yet-created.
privacy  stratechery  google  gdpr 
april 2018 by elrob
The death of the newsfeed — Benedict Evans
It’s useful here to compare the newsfeed challenge with the Google’s search results challenge. Google has to work out the best 10 results to show, using all sorts of judgements about what signals work best and what signals matter more, just as the newsfeed does - it can’t just show you the results by some objective measure like date or file size. It can offer complex controls and filters to fiddle with, but like Facebook it has to get things right without such controls because most people won’t
facebook  google 
april 2018 by elrob
Google Could Owe Oracle $8.8 Billion in Android Fight
“It’s a momentous decision on the issue of fair use,” lawyer Mark Schonfeld of Burns & Levinson in Boston, who’s been following the case and isn’t involved. “It is very, very important for the software industry. I think it’s going to go to the Supreme Court because the Federal Circuit has made a very controversial decision.”
tech-policy  IP  Google 
march 2018 by elrob
The Facebook Brand – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
Ultimately, the difference in Google and Facebook’s approaches to the web — and in the case of the latter, to user data — suggest how the duopolists will ultimately be regulated. Google is already facing significant antitrust challenges in the E.U., which is exactly what you would expect from a company in a dominant position in a value chain able to dictate terms to its suppliers. Facebook, meanwhile, has always seemed more immune to antitrust enforcement: its users are its suppliers, so what is...
facebook  google  privacy  regulation  data-portability  stratechery 
march 2018 by elrob
Inside Google's AMP Plans
Despite all those problems, here’s what is impressive about AMP: when you publish a webpage, it can be served from any caching server. But that’s not what really makes it fast; what truly makes a difference is that it can load nearly instantly because it’s already been preloaded in the background. And yet, despite that preloading, you don’t count as a visitor and the publisher doesn’t get to set any cookies or do any tracking until you click. And you can trust that the cached, instantly loaded page that’s sitting inside Google search or Twitter is faithful to its canonical source, even if that source was updated after it was first published.
google  web  2018 
march 2018 by elrob
Toronto/Sidewalk Labs Controversy
Mr. Tory, who has praised the Sidewalk initiative but has not seen the text of the deal, says no commercial agreement could strip the city of its authority: "I remain confident that the city's powers to zone and basically determine what's going to happen and what's not going to happen on those lands remain absolutely undiminished."
Toronto  google  urban  politics 
march 2018 by elrob
The Aggregator Paradox
The problem with Google’s actions should be obvious: the company is leveraging its monopoly in search to push the AMP format, and the company is leveraging its dominant position in browsers to punish sites with bad ads. That seems bad! And yet, from a user perspective, the options I presented at the beginning — fast loading web pages with responsive designs that look great on mobile and the elimination of pop-up ads, ad overlays, and autoplaying videos with sounds — sounds pretty appealing
google  facebook  ads  best-of-2018  stratechery 
february 2018 by elrob
What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team
Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound. Team members may behave in certain ways as individuals — they may chafe against authority or prefer working independently — but when they gather, the group’s norms typically override individual proclivities and encourage deference to the team.
google  teamwork  research 
december 2017 by elrob
The Great A.I. Awakening - NYTimes.com
There are two main problems with the old-fashioned approach. The first is that it’s awfully time-consuming on the human end. The second is that it only really works in domains where rules and definitions are very clear: in mathematics, for example, or chess. Translation, however, is an example of a field where this approach fails horribly, because words cannot be reduced to their dictionary definitions, and because languages tend to have as many exceptions as they have rules. More often than not, a system like this is liable to translate “minister of agriculture” as “priest of farming.” Still, for math and chess it worked great, and the proponents of symbolic A.I. took it for granted that no activities signaled “general intelligence” better than math and chess.

The reason that the network requires so many neurons and so much data is that it functions, in a way, like a sort of giant machine democracy.

Brain’s growth made Dean slightly nervous about how the company was going to handle the demand. He wanted to avoid what at Google is known as a “success disaster” — a situation in which the company’s capabilities in theory outpaced its ability to implement a product in practice.
history  google  AI  translation  ML  best-of-2017 
december 2017 by elrob
Peak Google
The problem for Google is that there is no obvious reason why they should win this category. Yes, they’re an ad company, but the key to native advertising on the Internet is the capability of producing immersive content within which to place the ad, such as Facebook’s newsfeed, Twitter’s stream, a Pinterest board, or even your typical news site’s home page. Sites like Buzzfeed have taken this idea to its logical conclusion: their content is basically a marketing tool meant to show advertisers how skilled they are at going viral. Google has nothing in this regard.2 Moreover, all of the things that make Google great at search and search advertising – the algorithm, the auction system, and machine learning – are skills that don’t really translate to the more touchy-feely qualities that make a social service or content site compelling.

And so we have our parallel to IBM and Microsoft. IBM didn’t capitalize on PCs because their skills lay on the hardware side, not software. Microsoft didn’t capitalize on mobile because they emphasized compatibility, not the user experience. And now Google is dominant when it comes to the algorithm, but lacks the human touch needed for social or viral content. And so, when all of that brand advertising finally begins to move from TV to the Internet – and that migration is a lot closer than it was even a year ago – I suspect that Google is not going to capture nearly as much of it as many observers might expect.
google  innovation  stratechery 
november 2017 by elrob
Google X and the Science of Radical Creativity
I found that X employees were eager to talk about the lessons they drew from Glass’s failure. Two lessons, in particular, kept coming up in our conversations. First, they said, Glass flopped not because it was a bad consumer product but because it wasn’t a consumer product at all. The engineering team at X had wanted to send Glass prototypes to a few thousand tech nerds to get feedback. But as buzz about Glass grew, Google, led by its gung-ho co-founder Sergey Brin, pushed for a larger publicity tour—including a ted Talk and a fashion show with Diane von Furstenberg. Photographers captured Glass on the faces of some of the world’s biggest celebrities, including Beyoncé and Prince Charles, and Google seemed to embrace the publicity. At least implicitly, Google promised a product. It mailed a prototype. (Four years later, Glass has reemerged as a tool for factory workers, the same group that showed the most enthusiasm for the initial design.)

But Teller and others also saw Glass’s failure as representative of a larger structural flaw within X. It had no systemic way of turning science projects into businesses, or at least it hadn’t put enough thought into that part of the process. So X created a new stage, called Foundry, to serve as a kind of incubator for scientific breakthroughs as its team develops a business model. The division is led by Obi Felten, a Google veteran whose title says it all: head of getting moonshots ready for contact with the real world.
google  innovation 
november 2017 by elrob
Google's Learning Software Learns to Write Learning Software | WIRED
"Much work in what is called metalearning or learning to learn, including Google’s, is aimed at speeding up the process of deploying artificial neural networks. That technique involves feeding data through networks of math operations loosely inspired by studies of neurons in the brain.

That may sound highly sophisticated, but a good part of getting neural networks to perform useful tricks like processing audio comes down to well-paid grunt work. Experts must use instinct and trial and error to discover the right architecture for a neural network. “A large part of that engineer’s job is essentially a very boring task, trying multiple configurations to see which ones work better,” says Roberto Calandra, a researcher at University of California Berkeley. The challenge is getting harder, he says, because researchers are building larger networks to tackle tougher problems."
google  ML 
november 2017 by elrob
Google’s Founders Wanted to Shape a City. Toronto Is Their Chance. - The New York Times
"Many intractable urban problems are in fact not engineering problems at all, including the ones that most look like it. Housing is very expensive in a place like San Francisco not because we haven’t developed the right engineering methods to build it more cheaply. Unaffordable housing is largely a political problem — we haven’t developed the societal consensus to build enough of it.

Sidewalk Labs, to its credit, has internalized many of these criticisms. The company, formed by Google two years ago, has pointedly been based in New York City and not Silicon Valley. It’s staffed by both technologists and government alums. Its leader, the former New York City deputy mayor Dan Doctoroff, openly acknowledges the gulf between technologists and city government types. And Sidewalk Labs says it wants to bridge the two."
google  urban  policy  toronto 
november 2017 by elrob
Tech Goes to Washington – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
"What this hearing highlighted, though, is the degree to which the position of Facebook in particular has become more tenuous. The fact of the matter is that Facebook (and Google) is more powerful than any entity we have seen before. Magnifying the problem is that, over the last year, Facebook has decided to “take responsibility”, and what is that but a commitment to exercise their control over what people see?

Indeed, this is where Facebook’s inescapable internal bias surely played a role: the “safest” position for the company to take would be the sort of neutrality demanded by Cruz — a refusal to do any sort of explicit policing of content, no matter how objectionable. That, though, was unacceptable to the company’s employee base specifically, and Silicon Valley broadly: traumatized by the election of a candidate deemed unacceptable Facebook has committed itself to exercising its power, and that is in itself a cause for alarm."
2016  US  election  facebook  google  regulation  stratechery 
november 2017 by elrob
EFF: Stupid patents are dragging down AI and machine learning | Ars Technica
"Just as the US Patent Office problematically gave out patents in the past for computers doing simple things like counting votes or counting calories, the office seems prepared to give out patents on "using machine learning in obvious and expected ways." Companies like Google and Microsoft are seeking to acquire, and in some cases have acquired, patents on "fundamental machine-learning techniques," Nazer writes."
patents  ai  google  ML 
october 2017 by elrob
The Super-Aggregators and the Russians – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
"Super-aggregators not only have zero transaction costs when it comes to users and content, but also when it comes to making money. This is at the very core of why Google and Facebook are so much more powerful than any of the other purely information-centric networks. The vast majority of advertisers on both networks never deal with a human (and if they do, it’s in customer support functionality, not sales and account management): they simply use the self-serve ad products like the one pictured above (or a more comprehensive tool built on the companies’ self-serve API).

This is the level that the other social networks have not reached: Twitter grew revenue, but primarily through its sales team, which meant that costs increased inline with revenue; the company never gained the leverage that comes from having a self-serve ad platform (specifically, the self-serve platform costs are fixed but the revenue is marginal)."
aggregation  theory  facebook  google  regulation  politics  stratechery 
september 2017 by elrob
Google’s War Over the Sexes - The New York Times
"Consider it this way: If you asked a right-wing misogynist to craft a sexist parody of his political opponents, you might get something like the highly neurotic, fainting-couch politics of recent campus and online progressivism, whose acolytes oscillate between soft therapeutic language and maenad-like frenzy.

If you then asked a left-wing misandrist to do the same sort of parody in reverse, you’d end up with something like the online far-right — nerds and autodidacts obsessed with cuckoldry, fascist cosplayers eager for evidence of their own racial superiority, would-be lotharios furious at feminism, libertarians with a ten-point case for despotism."
gender  google 
august 2017 by elrob
Verily Robot Will Raise 20 Million Sterile Mosquitoes for Release in California - MIT Technology Review
"Verily is using a line of modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes—the species that carries chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika viruses. Mosquito Mate founder Steven Dobson originally created the insects 15 years ago by injecting newly laid mosquito eggs with Wolbachia using a tiny needle. The infection has been transmitted through female mosquitoes ever since, so there’s no need to inject each new generation. Wolbachia, which has been relatively well studied as a mosquito-sterilizing technique, doesn’t infect humans and can’t be transmitted to humans through an insect bite."
google  robotics  dengue 
july 2017 by elrob
Microsoft Thinks AI Will Fill Your Blind Spots, Not Take Over Your Job - MIT Technology Review
"So its new team aims to lean on cognitive psychology in order to identify holes in human intellect—such as our propensity to forget things or be easily distracted—and use those to build AIs that complement the blind spots. As an example, the team pointed to a project it’s working on that uses machine learning to digest historical medical cases and alert doctors to potential problems that they may have missed when making a diagnosis or discharging a patient. The implication is that AI shouldn’t necessarily take over from humans but, rather, help them do a better a job."
AI  microsoft  google  research 
july 2017 by elrob
Google Just Got Hit with a $2.7 Billion Antitrust Fine from the EU - MIT Technology Review
"The fine itself may not be the hard part for Google to stomach. Alphabet, after all, has over $90 billion in cash. Instead, as the New York Times has noted, the search firm will be concerned about how far it must go to solve the problem. And its biggest fear would be a situation in which regulators force it to divulge the inner workings of its algorithms to prove that it is playing fair.

Expect Google, then, to fight the fine hard and do it all it can to keep its algorithms locked down. Indeed, the company has already issued a statement announcing that it will “respectfully disagree with the conclusions announced today,” adding that it plans to “review the commission’s decision in detail” and then “look forward to continuing to make [its] case.” Whatever happens after 90 days, the long-term outcome of all of this wrangling is likely to play out over the course of years, not months."
google  competition  antitrust 
june 2017 by elrob
Google Stakes Its Future on a Piece of Software - MIT Technology Review
"Inside Google, TensorFlow powers products such as the Google Translate mobile app, which can translate a foreign menu in front of your eyes when you point your phone at it. The company has created specialized processors to make TensorFlow faster and reduce the power it consumes inside Google’s data centers. These processors propelled the historic victory of software called AlphaGo over a champion of the ancient board game Go last year and are credited with making possible a recent upgrade that ...
google  ML  translation 
june 2017 by elrob
Aggregation Theory – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
"The third wave are industries that don’t have such an obvious digital component. Airbnb, for example, deals with vacant rooms; what makes it work is the way it has digitized — and thus commoditized — trust. Uber deals with cars; it has digitized both trust and dispatch. More importantly, both have nailed the user experience in a way that incumbents have been sorely lacking. Both companies also sit in a sort of middle ground between Facebook and Google: their suppliers are not exclusive in theory, but increasingly are exclusive in reality as both benefit from a virtuous cycle of more users leading to increased utilization of suppliers."
innovation  amazon  google  facebook  uber  airbnb  stratechery 
february 2017 by elrob
Finally, some good news about the Silicon Valley housing crisis - Vox
"Doing the infrastructure work and staffing changes necessary to turn the Caltrain commuter rail service into a real high-frequency mass transit route would be a big first step toward making the region less car-reliant. Ideally, this would be accompanied by zoning changes that would allow higher-density housing and office space to be built immediately adjacent to the station.

But the bulk of Silicon Valley businesses — including Google's corporate headquarters, which is almost 3 miles north of the Mountain View station — are not close to Caltrain stops. So Silicon Valley's solution to this problem is likely to look different than New York or Chicago's.

Perhaps tech companies will find ways to extend the "Google bus" model to carry people between islands of high-density housing in an ocean of suburbia. Or maybe the advent of self-driving cars and smartphone-based ride-hailing apps will allow the invention of a completely new model, such as highly efficient carpooling or dynamically routed buses.

Regardless, the only way to figure it out is to start experimenting. And Mountain View's North Bayshore plan is an important step in that direction."
google  silicon  valley  SF  transport  urban  housing 
march 2016 by elrob
(12) Answer to Why does Google use the Generalized Second Price auction to sell search ads instead of Vickrey-Clark-Groves? - Quora
"6 Implementing the VCG auction

Google designed the GSP auction in the Fall of 2001 and implemented it in February of 2002. A few months later, Eric Veach, the main architect of the original GSP auction, came up with a way to create a truthful auction for clicks and showed it to Hal, who recognized it immediately as a VCG auction.

We thought very seriously about changing the GSP auction to a VCG auction during the summer of 2002. There were three problems: 1) the GSP auction was growing very rapidly and required a lot of engineering attention, making it difficult to develop a new auction; 2) the VCG auction was harder to explain to advertisers; 3) the VCG auction required advertisers to raise their bids above those they had become accustomed to in the GSP auction.

The combination of these issues led to shelving the VCG auction in 2002. In 2012, we reconsidered the VCG auction (or something close to it) for use with our contextual ads. These are ads that are displayed based on the textual content on the page; for example, pages about dogs might display dog food ads. Contextual ads can be displayed in a variety of formats, but a common format is an “ad block” of 4 ads, arranged either horizontally or vertically.

The primary reason for considering the VCG auction for contextual ads was that it is a) flexible and b) truthful.
The final system, which rolled out in late 2012, cannot be considered a “pure” Vickrey auction, but it reasonably close to one given the design challenges involved. From what we can tell, it seems to be working pretty well."
auctions  auction  theory  google  ads 
december 2015 by elrob
The Blandification of Scalable Logos
Google—well, they did it right. The final result isn't arbitrary. The new logo is purpose built: it carries corporate history while shedding the naive, amateurish (but charming and disarming) details of their longest-running company mark. The redesign is still absolutely Google, while being optimized for legible display at many sizes and for many uses. Having a set of the logo, four colored dots corresponding to the logo's colors, and a single G mark that incorporates those four colors gives them a lot of flexibility and consistency across many platforms and uses. The design team's description of its goals and how it achieved them is solid and even admirable. It's not a series of compromises and justifications that got them here, but a number of constraints in the design brief.

One of my favorite typefaces is Kabel, designed by Rudolf Koch, one of the greatest modern type designers. You can see a little taste of Kabel in the Google logo: the tilted bar of the lower-case e is absolutely characteristic of Kabel and rarely seen elsewhere. More generally, Product Sans reminds me of a blend of Futura and Gill Sans with the idiosyncrasies of both steamrollered out.

Many typefaces still in wide use were designed for books and newspapers, and while adapted to the medium of the web, still haven't caught up with what's needed for mobile. The designed-for-screen fonts of the late 1990s and early 2000s lag because they were born when screen displays were far below today's retina-and-beyond densities. New faces don't need to be bland, but faces with a broad and custom purpose like this will be less interesting and less quirky than those intended for general reading.
design  google  typography 
october 2015 by elrob
Although the self-driving car program now has a CEO, it remains within the Google X lab. “The project is not becoming an Alphabet company at this stage,” a Google spokesperson said, referring to the new corporate umbrella. “though it’s certainly a good candidate to become one at some point in the future.”
google  driverless  cars 
september 2015 by elrob
Google Maps can now tell you if it’s worth installing solar panels on your roof | The Verge
"Sunroof uses data from Google Maps that previously had no practical application. For instance, Sunroof uses Maps’ 3D-modeling to calculate the amount of space a building’s roof has for solar panels. The service also analyzes the positioning of the sun over the course of a year, as well as the type of cloud cover and temperature the neighborhood usually experiences. It even considers the amount of shade cast by nearby objects."
google  solar  innovation  best-of-2015 
august 2015 by elrob
Google Photos and the unguessable URL | The Verge
"Being sure that no one will guess the URL at random, Google engineers are free to give significantly more freedom to anyone who has the URL. As RossFletch documented, you can access that same photo from another computer or another continent. You can give it to a friend or pull it through an automated scraper, and it will load just the same. For Google, that's a feature. Maybe you'd like to share the photo with a friend who doesn't have a Google account, or build an automated system to pull the photo onto another system.

In some sense, that's how passwords are supposed to work: as long as you've got the password, you don't need anything else. And unlike an account or a login, the string of characters can travel anywhere. "The value of URLs is that they're universal," says Vincent Mo, another lead engineer on Photos. "You can put it in a text message, you can put it in an email, you can put it on a webpage." Because we've been trained by two decades of right-clicking, it's also a system most web users already understand. It's that rarest of things: a genuinely open system."
google  photography  privacy  security  encryption 
june 2015 by elrob
Google Chrome Is About to Make the Internet Way Better | TIME
"Google’s Chrome browser is adding a new feature that will detect the primary video on a webpage and automatically freeze other noisy, distracting Flash-based advertisements that rattle and shake for users’ attention.

“When you’re on a webpage that runs Flash, we’ll intelligently pause content (like Flash animations) that aren’t central to the webpage, while keeping central content (like a video) playing without interruption,” the Chrome team wrote on its official blog Thursday. “If we accidentally pause something you were interested in, you can just click it to resume playback.”

Google claims that a choosier browser will “significantly reduce power consumption” on mobile devices. The feature comes standard in the latest beta version of Chrome. Current users can activate the it under Chrome’s “advanced settings” menu, under “Detect and run important plugin content.”"
google  innovation  ads  progress 
june 2015 by elrob
A Murky Road Ahead for Android, Despite Market Dominance - NYTimes.com
"Google faces several major Android-related headaches. First, while Google makes most of its revenue from advertising, Android has so far been an ad dud compared with Apple’s iOS, whose users tend to have more money and spend a lot more time on their phones (and are, thus, more valuable to advertisers). Because Google pays billions to Apple to make its search engine the default search provider for iOS devices, the company collects much more from ads placed on Apple devices than from ads on Android devices. A recent analysis by Goldman Sachs estimated that Google collected about $11.8 billion on mobile search ads in 2014, with about 75 percent coming from ads on iPhones and iPads."
google  apple  android  ads  competition 
june 2015 by elrob
Timeline: How Google and Uber went from lovers to frenemies | Fusion
"February 2015: Uber announces it is building a lab in Pittsburgh to start exploring the use of self-driving cars, putting it into direct competition with Google’s self-driving car project. Later that same day, Bloomberg reports that Google is “preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service,” and that Uber is considering whether or not to allow Drummond to remain on its board. The Google ride-sharing app has Uber executives “deeply concerned,” according to insiders. And Google’s official Twitter account posts a cryptic reply to Bloomberg’s story."
google  uber  competition  driverless  cars 
may 2015 by elrob
Hal Varian's answer to What do economists do at Google (their responsibilities as Google's employees)? - Quora
"I'm the Chief Economist at Google, so I believe I am uniquely qualified to answer this question.

I joined the company in 2002 and initially worked on the economics of the AdWords auction.  Since then, I have worked on many other auction design problems including the AdSense auction, the IPO auction, ad exchange auctions, spectrum auctions, and top-level domain auctions.  You can see some of this work here. 

I have also worked on query and revenue forecasting, advertiser behavior, ad effectiveness, and a number of other econometrics projects.  We have hundreds of statisticians, econometricians, data scientists, and other quantitative analysts at Google and I try to coordinate communications among these groups via periodic get togethers and newsletters.  In addition, I provide analysis and input on a number of policy issues, including antitrust, patents, copyright, and innovation policy. My team of economists, statisticians, and data engineers that works in all the areas described above, as well as several other areas."
google  micro  auctions  economics 
april 2015 by elrob
What the hell is an MVNO, and why is Google building one with Fi? | The Verge
"Typically, MVNOs have targeted lower income sections of the market, offering the ability to work with cheap monthly fees or pre-paid devices, but with less widespread coverage and without the ability to provide premier devices. Project Fi seems different, at least in the sense that you need to own an expensive flagship phone to participate and that it would work for global travelers in 120 different countries.

But the basic principles still apply. Sprint and T-Mobile get to grow their subscriber base (although it's not clear how they will tally the shared customers), and in this case add early adopters who probably consume an above average amount of data each month. Google incentivizes people to rush out and buy a Nexus (I’m looking at you @backlon) and perhaps gets phone manufacturers to build more cross-network compatible phones to boot."
google  america  innovation  telecoms 
april 2015 by elrob
Google is serious about taking on telecom. Here’s why it’ll win. - The Washington Post
But Google may, by virtue of its stakes in other sectors, split from the rest of the telecom industry. We’ve seen this to some extent on net neutrality, a major policy battle pitting Web sites against broadband providers. Recent statements from the company have provided ammunition to proponents of strong rules meant to prohibit Internet providers from speeding up or slowing down certain Web sites over others.

For a company that ranks among the biggest lobbying spenders in Washington, Google’s arguments to policymakers carry a great deal of weight, which is also why the company’s entry into the telecom space would be significant. Even as big players in the industry move to consolidate, Google could stand to be the spoiler for these companies. It didn't set out to be one of them.
google  telecoms  future  competition  privacy 
february 2015 by elrob
New wireless services from Google and Cablevision will lean heavily on Wi-Fi | The Verge
"Meanwhile, the Journal also reports that Cablevision is launching a Wi-Fi-based phone service next month, Freewheel, which will run $9.95 for the cable company's existing customers and $29.95 a month for everyone else. (Republic Wireless' Wi-Fi-only plan, for comparison, is $5 per month.) It's starting in New York, but will eventually be available nationwide. Naturally, it'll include access to Cablevision's Optimum Wi-Fi hotspots.

For companies without access to cellular spectrum — which is basically everyone outside a small collective of longtime wireless operators — Wi-Fi service is becoming far more practical thanks to the proliferation of hotspot networks, some of which are powered in part by customers' own homes. With decent service, a cellular fallback, and prices considerably below what the big four nationals can offer directly, Google could have a winner on its hands."
google  telecoms  innovation 
january 2015 by elrob
Google is developing a cancer and heart attack-detecting pill | Technology | theguardian.com
Conrad explained that the particles would be analogous to sending thousands of doctors down into the population of a large city to monitor what is going on with individuals, describing current medical techniques as having one doctor fly over the city it in a helicopter trying to see what’s causing issues with individual people.“If you look at your wrist you can see these superficial veins – just by putting a magnet there you can trap [the nanoparticles],” Conrad said explaining that a wrist-worn device like a smartwatch could be used to read what the particles have detected on their trip through the blood stream.“We ask them: Hey, what did you see? Did you find cancer? Did you see something that looks like a fragile plaque for a heart attack? Did you see too much sodium?” said Conrad.The system known as the “nanoparticle platform” is Google’s latest venture into the lucrative health market, which is worth around 10% of the economy of developed nations. More than £100bn a year is spent on the National Health Service in Britain.
google  health  cancer  innovation 
october 2014 by elrob
Google launches support for Security Key, a simpler kind of two-factor authentication | The Verge
Because the Security Key is built on an open standard, there's also no reason to think it will be limited to USB — which is particularly important given the recent bugs discovered in USB hardware. (Specific tokens can also be protected against the bug in the manufacturing process.) The same architecture could be used over Bluetooth or NFC tokens, or triggered by biometric scans of a users fingerprint or iris. It could also be used to move beyond simple two-factor security, requiring three or four different authentications before particularly sensitive information could be accessed, although those features aren't present in Google's current implementation.However the standard develops, it's clear that Google and others are already moving away from a single password as the standard for consumer security. "There is no doubt that a new era has arrived," said FIDO Alliance President Michael Barrett in an official statement. "We are starting to move users and providers alike beyond single-factor passwords."
google  security 
october 2014 by elrob
Google's 'perfect human' project isn't evil, it's business | The Verge
"Baseline is actually more strategic than it looks. Google's announcement admits it, saying the project "could unlock lots of ideas for future projects, not just at Google but across the health and technology industries." The data itself is all under strict protection by medical ethics boards, so it won't ever show up in a Google Health-style app, but that doesn't mean Google can't benefit from the project. If Baseline turns up any new ways to measure healthiness, Google will have a head start in developing the new instruments and techniques that take advantage of that data, which could have a huge impact on Google's bottom line in the decades to come.

It's also a crucial play for Android, as health data becomes increasingly important for the smartphone business. In June, Apple announced a partnership with Epic, one of America's largest keepers of electronic medical records. The play was simple: by porting that data into the Healthkit app, Apple could give you an in-depth look at the same blood pressure and heart rate measurements your doctor sees, alongside information from personal trackers like the Fitbit. In a world where we're constantly monitoring our health data, that could be a convincing reason to buy an iPhone instead of the latest Android model."
google  apple  health  data  ethics  innovation  bignews 
july 2014 by elrob
Daring Fireball: Wearables, Fashion, and iWatch
When technology companies look at goods that are built from the outside in, they generally see irrationality and inefficiency, a broken market just waiting to be corrected and “disrupted.” They believe that they can engineer so much value into these items
apple  google  wearable  funny  quotes 
june 2014 by elrob
Here's why two protesters disrupted Google's biggest event of the year | The Verge
The first protester to stand up was Claudia Tirado, a third grade teacher at San Francisco's Fairmount Elementary School, who currently faces eviction from her home in the Mission District — just minutes away from where Google's press conference took plac
america  inequality  google  SF 
june 2014 by elrob
Apple, Google call truce in patent war | The Japan Times
“Apple and Google have agreed to dismiss all the current lawsuits that exist directly between the two companies,” the companies said in a joint statement. “Apple and Google have also agreed to work together in some areas of patent reform.” The companies m
Apple  google  progress  IP  patents  law 
may 2014 by elrob
See how Google's new 'Project Tango' smartphones sense the world | The Verge
The potential applications for this type of technology are pretty widespread, with the most obvious ones being 3D-mapping apps for room and building planning. But El-Ouzzane notes that the depth-tracking technology could also be used to help the visually
google  future  vision  tech 
march 2014 by elrob
Hal Varian's answer to Google: What do economists do at Google (their responsibilities as Google's employees)? - Quora
I have also worked on query and revenue forecasting, advertiser behavior, ad effectiveness, and a number of other econometrics projects. We have hundreds of statisticians, econometricians, data scientists, and other quantitative analysts at Google and I t
google  auctions  labour  economics 
march 2014 by elrob
Can Google's robots build a new future for US manufacturing? | The Verge
It's debatable as to whether this renaissance will actually come to fruition, though the costs of automated manufacturing are certainly coming down. A 2012 report from the McKinsey Group showed that the price of automated labor compared to human labor has
google  robotics  manufacturing  america 
february 2014 by elrob
Satya Nadella: New Microsoft CEO brings cloudy outlook.
And then there's Bing. I am obsessed with Bing. Not because I use Bing or because Bing is a commercially important product but because Bing is a socially important product. Steve Ballmer's heroic determination to compete with Google on search has helped u
google  microsoft  future  competition 
january 2014 by elrob
Android founder Andy Rubin's secret Google project: building real robots | The Verge
It's not clear what kind of robots the group will build, but several of the companies involved previously built humanoid robots and robotic arms, and it seems like Rubin is suggesting that Google's creation might be able to move, reach, and grab things li
google  robotics  manufacturing 
december 2013 by elrob
Google Books ruling is a huge victory for online innovation
Another factor weighing in Google's favor, in Chin's view, is that Google Books expands the market for books by helping consumers discover books they would not otherwise have known existed. He rejected authors' arguments that people could use the search e
google  books  IP  law 
november 2013 by elrob
Exactly how Google killed print media, in one chart
Google now makes more money on advertising than the all U.S. magazines and newspapers combined.
ads  business  journalism  google 
november 2013 by elrob
Google's Ngram Viewer Goes Wild
As the Ngram model extends its influence, Google continues to tinker, making improvements to the Ngram Viewer's already slick interface. Last year saw a major upgrade, with a sizable increase in the underlying data spanning English and seven other languag
google  language  tech 
october 2013 by elrob
Why Google can't give you driving directions in South Korea | The Verge
Google is pressuring South Korea to ease up on regulations that make it impossible for the company to offer driving directions through Google Maps, the New York Times reports. While South Koreans are known as tech-savvy early adopters, old laws restrictin
google  regulation  korea  tech 
october 2013 by elrob
Google partners with tech rivals to bring affordable internet to developing nations | The Verge
Google appears to have the largest investment in the group out of any tech company, marking yet another extension of its goal to spread internet access. It's already attempted to tackle the issue through new technologies — including utilizing unused wirel
google  facebook  intel  ict4d  microsoft 
october 2013 by elrob
Google launches 'Constitute,' a new tool for designing governments | The Verge
The process of drafting a constitution is usually long, intricate and politically fraught — but with 160 different active constitutions to draw from, it's also uniquely amenable to data analysis. With that in mind, Google has partnered with the Comparativ
weird  google  government 
september 2013 by elrob
Google launches Calico, a new company tasked with extending human life | The Verge
In an interview about the new company with Time, Page suggests that even curing cancer won't go as far as he would like to see Calico go. "Are people really focused on the right things?" he said. "One of the things I thought was amazing is that if you sol
google  future  health  cancer  business 
september 2013 by elrob
Hugo Barra Talks About His Future at Xiaomi and Why He Left Google - Kara Swisher - Mobile - AllThingsD
Perhaps even more important for Google though, was to make sure that there were strong Android players in the Chinese market, especially after setbacks at HTC and a more Wild West situation for the mobile operating system there. Having an insider like Bar
google  android  business  mobile  china 
september 2013 by elrob
Benedict Evans
The Nexus 7 sold only 7m units in almost a year and was only 10% of 'activated' Android tablets, on Google's numbers.  The Nexus 10 appears to have sold under 1m units. There's no strong indication that the Nexus handsets sell in large volumes, and rumour
google  android  business  mobile 
august 2013 by elrob
O.K., Glass
I had become an avid iPhone user while researching “Super Sad.” The device became a frightening appendage to a life of already sizable anxiety. My phone became a reproving parent that constantly bade me to work harder, a needy lover that beeped and clange
google  glass  feelings  culture  future  tech 
august 2013 by elrob
Lockdown – Marco.org
Google Reader is just the latest casualty of the war that Facebook started, seemingly accidentally: the battle to own everything.5 While Google did technically “own” Reader and could make some use of the huge amount of news and attention data flowing thro
google  facebook 
july 2013 by elrob
Google's Gchat Replacement Doesn’t Play With Other Instant Messaging Platforms
With Hangouts, Google is dropping the open XMPP messaging protocol that the company helped pioneer with Gchat. Also known as Jabber, the XMPP standard on Google Talk allowed users to chat with people who used other instant messengers. That may not sound i
may 2013 by elrob
Google Buys a Quantum Computer
Google did not say how it might deploy a quantum computer into its existing global network of computer-intensive data centers, which are among the world’s largest. D-Wave, however, intends eventually for its quantum machine to hook into cloud computing sy
quantum  computing  google  future 
may 2013 by elrob
Future Perfect » You Lookin’ At Me? Reflections on Google Glass
Glass has four design principles for developers that focus on the Glass-wearers user experience: “design for Glass,” “don’t get in the way,” “keep it timely,” and “avoid the unexpected”7. As challenging as it is to find a compelling use-case (beyond porn)
google  glass  privacy  tech 
april 2013 by elrob
Opportunity, meet problem: Facebook Home's uneasy relationship with Google | The Verge
Google's official position on Facebook Home is diplomatic. “This latest collaboration demonstrates the openness and flexibility that has made Android so popular," a spokesperson told VentureBeat. "And it’s a win for users who want a customized Facebook ex
google  2013  facebook  competition  tech 
april 2013 by elrob
The Myo gesture control armband
But the uncool factor can be overridden in various ways. Nike can make anyone wear anything, especially if it's packaged like a watch with superpowers. A few years ago, you looked like a dork wearing headphones in public but Apple made it cool. Beats By D
fashion  google  glass  tech 
march 2013 by elrob
I used Google Glass: the future, with monthly updates | The Verge
The design of Glass is actually really beautiful. Elegant, sophisticated. They look human and a little bit alien all at once. Futuristic but not out of time — like an artifact from the 1960’s, someone trying to imagine what 2013 would be like. This is App
google  future  glass  design 
february 2013 by elrob
How Google Builds Its Maps—and What It Means for the Future of Everything - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
There is an analogy to be made to one of Google’s other impressive projects: Google Translate. What looks like machine intelligence is actually only a recombination of human intelligence. Translate relies on massive bodies of text that have been translate
google  geography  tech 
january 2013 by elrob
Things the world wants to know how to do - Quartz
Argentina: how to update Facebook
Australia: how to love
Brazil: how to remove Facebook
Canada: how to rock
Chile: how to make a family tree
Colombia: how to make cupcakes
Czech Republic: how to lose weight
Denmark: how to kiss
Finland: how to get a fever
google  funny 
january 2013 by elrob
Thiel v. Schmidt — Marginal Revolution
ADAM LASHINSKY: You have $50 billion at Google, why don’t you spend it on doing more in tech, or are you out of ideas? And I think Google does more than most companies. You’re trying to do things with self-driving cars and supposedly with asteroid mini
google  debate  stagnation 
july 2012 by elrob
Flash Drives Replace Disks at Amazon, Facebook, Dropbox | Wired Enterprise | Wired.com
“Spinning disks are the highest-failure item in everybody’s data center, because they’re mechanical. Things that move tend to fail,” he says. “We want to eliminate some of these failures.”
google  dropbox  cloud  tech 
june 2012 by elrob
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