Author Archives: Johnny Luu

Digital skills download at the Balmain Bowlo

More than 100 small business owners from Sydney’s inner west gathered at the Balmain Bowling Club this morning to gain new digital skills.

Research suggests digitally engaged SMBs are more likely to be growing, accessing new markets and hiring staff, which is great news for the local community and national economy.

Today's Digital Garage event - supported by the NSW Business Chamber, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Leichhardt and Annandale Business Chamber, and Balmain Rozelle Chamber of Commerce - brought together the local business community, along with local Member of Parliament, Anthony Albanese; Google Australia Managing Director, Jason Pellegrino; and Vice-President of the Balmain Rozelle Chamber, Kate Moriarty.

Member for Grayndler, Hon. Anthony Albanese MP spoke to local businesses about the importance of gaining new digital skills.

“The inner west is home to many great businesses of all sizes. And these business owners are creative - they are responsive to technological change and are determined to succeed,” Mr Albanese said.

“With higher internet uptake in our area than any place in Australia, online presence and accessibility is crucial for our businesses.

“Today’s workshop encourages local business owners and leaders to not only continue to adapt, but also to come together and talk about how we can make the most of digital opportunities.”

Some great small businesses owners also shared their experiences of using digital tools - including local marriage celebrant, Stephen Lee, owner of Stephen Lee Celebrancy who uses Google My Business and YouTube to connect with new customers and Deepak Munsami, owner of The Tattoo Movement who uses digital advertising to reach clients online.

At Google, we think all Australians should have the opportunity to gain digital skills and we want to make that as easy as possible. That’s why we launched The Digital Garage: a free online training platform to help small businesses make the most of the web.

The Digital Garage will be hitting the road in coming weeks, visiting more locations around New South Wales - check out our events page to find out more.

Making AI work for everyone

Cross-promoted from Google global blog
Posted by Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google
I’ve now been at Google for 13 years, and it’s remarkable how the company’s founding mission of making information universally accessible and useful is as relevant today as it was when I joined. From the start, we’ve looked to solve complex problems using deep computer science and insights, even as the technology around us forces dramatic change.
The most complex problems tend to be ones that affect people’s daily lives, and it’s exciting to see how many people have made Google a part of their day—we’ve just passed 2 billion monthly active Android devices; YouTube has not only 1 billion users but also 1 billion hours of watchtime every day; people find their way along 1 billion kilometers across the planet using Google Maps each day. This growth would have been unthinkable without computing’s shift to mobile, which made us rethink all of our products—reinventing them to reflect new models of interaction like multi-touch screens.
We are now witnessing a new shift in computing: the move from a mobile-first to an AI-first world. And as before, it is forcing us to reimagine our products for a world that allows a more natural, seamless way of interacting with technology. Think about Google Search: it was built on our ability to understand text in webpages. But now, thanks to advances in deep learning, we’re able to make images, photos and videos useful to people in a way they simply haven’t been before. Your camera can “see”; you can speak to your phone and get answers back—speech and vision are becoming as important to computing as the keyboard or multi-touch screens.  
The Assistant is a powerful example of these advances at work. It’s already across 100 million devices, and getting more useful every day. We can now distinguish between different voices in Google Home, making it possible for people to have a more personalized experience when they interact with the device. We are now also in a position to make the smartphone camera a tool to get things done. Google Lens is a set of vision-based computing capabilities that can understand what you’re looking at and help you take action based on that information. If you have crawled down on a friend’s apartment floor to see a long, complicated Wi-Fi password on the back of a router, your phone can now recognize the password, see that you’re trying to log into a Wi-Fi network and automatically log you in. The key thing is, you don’t need to learn anything new to make this work—the interface and the experience can be much more intuitive than, for example, copying and pasting across apps on a smartphone. We’ll first be bringing Google Lens capabilities to the Assistant and Google Photos and you can expect it to make its way to other products as well.
[Warning, geeky stuff ahead!!!]
All of this requires the right computational architecture. Last year at I/O, we announced the first generation of our TPUs, which allow us to run our machine learning algorithms faster and more efficiently. Today we announced our next generation of TPUs—Cloud TPUs, which are optimized for both inference and training and can process a LOT of information. We’ll be bringing Cloud TPUs to the Google Compute Engine so that companies and developers can take advantage of it.
It’s important to us to make these advances work better for everyone—not just for the users of Google products. We believe huge breakthroughs in complex social problems will be possible if scientists and engineers can have better, more powerful computing tools and research at their fingertips. But today, there are too many barriers to making this happen. 
That’s the motivation behind, which pulls all our AI initiatives into one effort that can lower these barriers and accelerate how researchers, developers and companies work in this field.
One way we hope to make AI more accessible is by simplifying the creation of machine learning models called neural networks. Today, designing neural nets is extremely time intensive, and requires an expertise that limits its use to a smaller community of scientists and engineers. That’s why we’ve created an approach called AutoML, showing that it’s possible for neural nets to design neural nets. We hope AutoML will take an ability that a few PhDs have today and will make it possible in three to five years for hundreds of thousands of developers to design new neural nets for their particular needs. 
In addition, has been teaming Google researchers with scientists and developers to tackle problems across a range of disciplines, with promising results. We’ve used ML to improve the algorithm that detects the spread of breast cancer to adjacent lymph nodes. We've also seen AI make strides in the time and accuracy with which researchers can guess the properties of molecules and even sequence the human genome.
This shift isn’t just about building futuristic devices or conducting cutting-edge research. We also think it can help millions of people today by democratizing access to information and surfacing new opportunities. For example, almost half of U.S. employers say they still have issues filling open positions. Meanwhile, job seekers often don’t know there’s a job opening just around the corner from them, because the nature of job posts—high turnover, low traffic, inconsistency in job titles—have made them hard for search engines to classify. Through a new initiative, Google for Jobs, we hope to connect companies with potential employees, and help job seekers find new opportunities. As part of this effort, we will be launching a new feature in Search in the coming weeks that helps people look for jobs across experience and wage levels—including jobs that have traditionally been much harder to search for and classify, like service and retail jobs. 
It’s inspiring to see how AI is starting to bear fruit that people can actually taste. There is still a long way to go before we are truly an AI-first world, but the more we can work to democratize access to the technology—both in terms of the tools people can use and the way we apply it—the sooner everyone will benefit. 
To read more about the many, many other announcements at Google I/O—for Android, and Photos, and VR, and more, please see our latest stories

Privacy Awareness Week & Consumer Fraud Awareness Week: Learn how you can stay safe and sound online

Trust and transparency are the key themes of Privacy Awareness Week this year, which falls in the same week as Consumer Fraud Awareness Week.  At Google, we place a huge value in being upfront and transparent with our users, and talking about privacy in clear language that everyone can understand.  

But we know that there is no one size fits all approach to protecting user privacy.  Now more than ever, privacy means different things to different people and we want to help our users get comfortable with their relationship with Google.   Key to this level of comfort are the concepts of trust and transparency.

Our goal is to empower users through the information we give them so that they can make informed decisions about their relationship with Google.  In 2015, we introduced a new site at that answers some of the biggest questions, like: what data does Google collect? And What does Google do with the data it collects?  

We also made users’ settings easier to find, understand, and manage—putting it all together in one place called My Account.  

We continue to innovate on and improve user’s access to and control over their account data.  For example, we are giving users unprecedented transparency through My Activity where you can see and manage the information used by Google services.  By being open and transparent about Google’s data collection and use policies and by giving control to our users over how their data is used, our hope is that our users trust us more.  It’s as simple as that.

But we are also strongly invested in creating safer digital environments where vulnerable members of the community are less likely to fall victim to scams.  We have a dedicated help page that identifies all of the scams purporting to be from Google.  

We also make the web safer from phishing and malware every day with our Safe Browsing warnings in Chrome. Each day we find more than 7,500 unsafe sites, so when you use Google Search, or surf across to an unsafe page using your Chrome browser, we’ll display a warning and encourage you to go elsewhere. We also provide this intel to the Stop Badware coalition, so other service providers can make the web safer, too.

There are also some things you can do to help us keep your data safe and secure. For example, we recommend you take a quick Security Check-Up this week to review your current Google account settings.  You can also visit the Google Safety Centre for more advice about being safe online.

You’ll see a lot of activity this week promoting trust and transparency as part of #PAW2017 and raising awareness of online scams through #FraudWeek2017.   This serves as a strong reminder of how important it is to review your privacy and security settings on the services you use.  Rest assured that Google is committed to these issues and making our services trustworthy and robust every single week of the year.

Announcing Google’s CS4HS recipients for 2017

Helping educators to confidently teach digital technologies provides students with lifelong skills that enable them to solve problems and develop critical analysis skills.

Google’s Computer Science for High Schools (CS4HS) program has been running in Australia and New Zealand since 2011 and in that time has trained more than 9,000 teachers.

Through hands-on professional development workshops the program provides teachers with the skills and resources they need to teach computational thinking and computer science concepts in fun and engaging ways.

Ali Duncan, a primary teacher at Ladbrooks School in Christchurch, along with other members of her school’s faculty, attended the first CS4PS (Computer Science for Primary Schools) run by the University of Canterbury in 2016. She says the workshop “made me feel more confident to expand my learning (a tiny bit of Python, robotics, Scratch) and being more open in general to conversations around these areas with my children and colleagues”.

Ladbrooks School students at the BuzzOff Challenge
Since the workshop Ali has become a driving force in her school for computer science and STEM programs. The students “love learning computer science, they enjoy sharing with their parents and making those connections”. Through the CS4PS workshop, Ali’s class was invited to the University of Canterbury’s BuzzOff BeeBot challenge last year which was a fantastic learning experience for the students and showcases the ongoing support for teachers fostered by the CS4HS program.

We’re excited to announce the 2017 CS4HS Awards that will continue to inspire and empower teachers like Bianca around Australia and New Zealand.

2017 CS4HS Funding Recipients 

Auckland University of Technology


The University of Canterbury - Primary Workshop

The University of Canterbury - Secondary Workshop

Victoria University of Wellington

Announcing Google’s CS4HS recipients for 2017

Equipping and empowering educators to confidently teach digital technologies in the classroom provides students with lifelong skills that enable them to solve problems and develop critical analysis skills.
Google’s Computer Science for High Schools (CS4HS) program has been running in Australia and New Zealand since 2011 and in that time has trained more than 9,000 teachers.
Through hands on professional development workshops the program provides teachers with the skills and resources they need to teach computational thinking and computer science concepts in fun and engaging ways.
The impact of these workshops goes beyond the individual teacher to their whole school and community. Bianca Audet, a primary teacher and assistant principal at Kahibah Public School in NSW, attended her CS4HS Workshop at the University of Newcastle in 2015. Bianca says the workshop helped her “to understand that Computer Science was not as intensive or difficult as I thought and that students would be able to follow some simple initiatives, such as Scratch coding.”

Bianca Audet leading a session at the 2016 University of Newcastle CS4HS Workshop
Bianca returned from the workshop and introduced the materials into her classroom to great success. In 2016 she returned to the CS4HS workshop, not as a student but as a teacher to equip other primary teachers with her expertise and experience of implementing digital technologies at her school with practical tools to enact in the classroom.
Bianca’s CS4HS experience has also had a significant impact on her school, with Kahibah Public now offering dedicated STEM class time with a focus on engineering and robotics for students.
We’re excited to announce the 2017 CS4HS Awards that will continue to inspire and empower teachers like Bianca around Australia and New Zealand.

2017 CS4HS Funding Recipients 

Australian Catholic University
Bentley Park College 
Catholic Schools Office, Lismore
Coding and Innovation Hub
Design and Technology Teachers’ Association
Griffith University
ICT Educators NSW
John Monash Science School
Macquarie University
Pedare Christian College
Regional Development Australia Hunter
Southern Cross University
St Bernard’s Primary Bateman’s Bay
St Columba Anglican School
Swinburne University of Technology
Tasmanian Society for Information Technology in Education
The University of Adelaide
The University of Melbourne
The University of Newcastle
The University of Sydney (MadMaker)
The University of Western Australia
Victoria University

New Zealand 
Auckland University of Technology
The University of Canterbury - Primary Workshop
The University of Canterbury - Secondary Workshop
Victoria University of Wellington

Books and blockchains: new possibilities for digital literature


What could a digital book possibly have to do with Blockchain - the technology behind the crypto-currency Bitcoin? And how can you create a situation where someone can own a book, without paying for it, yet everyone can read it?
These are some of the questions we’ve been asking ourselves as part of Editions At Play - a collaboration between our Creative Lab team in Sydney and the London publisher Visual Editions - which aims to create a space for new, experimental, digital storytelling through the marriage of technology and literature.

Today we’re excited to release two new books which, we hope, will continue to inspire fresh conventions around how we think of books and ‘bookness’, and how authors can work with developers and designers to create new formats of non-linear, dynamic literature.

A Universe Explodes, by Google’s own Tea Uglow, is on one level the story of a parent losing their grip on reality.

On another it is an exploration of the idea of ownership in digital culture, asking whether it is even possible to own a digital artefact in the same way we own a physical book or a CD, and using Blockchain to experiment with new models for owning and exchanging digital goods.


The book is accessible to all, but owned by only a few, and when one owner is ‘finished’ with their version, they dedicate it to a new owner, triggering a change of ownership which is recorded to the Blockchain - a permanent, public database accessible to everyone.
There are 100 ‘versions’ of A Universe Explodes, which each start the same. The first 100 owners receive a personal dedication from Tea, and are then invited to edit the book themselves by removing two words and adding one. They in turn dedicate their version to someone else, creating a ‘daisy book chain’ which gradually gets shorter until there is only one word per page in the book.
You can watch this film or read this post to learn more about the ideas behind the book.

Seed, by British author Joanna Walsh, is the story of a young woman coming of age in the 1980s, digitally growing and decaying around an unmentionable event that every reading will see differently.

The book uses a sprawling digitally-native canvas to steer the reader and employs ‘story vines’ to navigate the narrator’s dark and claustrophobic surroundings - all set inside and around rich, botanical illustrations by Charlotte Hicks.

You can explore more of Seed - a story that blooms, wilts, and grows - in this film.

Happy reading!

Get the best seat in the house and watch Coachella live exclusively on YouTube

When you think of Coachella you think of amazing music artists, thrilling performances and nonstop fun in the middle of the desert. This year’s fest will be bigger than ever and even if you can’t make it to Coachella in person, you don’t have to miss out on a moment of the action.

For the seventh year in a row, YouTube brings you the exclusive Coachella live stream – presented by Optus. This year, select acts will also available in Live 360. Music fans from around the world can tune-in to Coachella's YouTube channel from April 14-16, on any screen (desktop, mobile and living room).

Catch performances from global superstars and the hottest rising talent in the world, including headliners Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar and Radiohead – as well as Aussie acts including The Avalanches, Empire of the Sun and What So Not.

You can choose from three always-on channels as well as a Live 360 Mode that will appear for select performances. Don’t miss any of the shows you’re most excited for by creating a personalized calendar that lets you track all your favorite performances. The livestream channels will automatically change to your favorite artists based on your selection. And if you turn on notifications for artists you subscribe to, you’ll get a note when they go live.

For the first time ever you’ll even get a sneak peek inside the famous underground dance music Yuma tent.  

If you miss one of the big performances, we still have you covered with a video-on-demand hub that will showcase highlights and footage from performers throughout the weekend.

Stay tuned to find out more information about Coachella performances and be sure to subscribe to Coachella's YouTube channel so you’re part of the action!

Ali Rivera, Head of Artist Partnerships, YouTube recently watched ”Kendrick Lamar “Humble” & Brian Anderson, Global Music Sponsorships, recently watched “Juan Atkins, Derrick May + Kevin Saunderson in Conversation

A remedy for your health-related questions: Google Search launches health info in the Knowledge Graph

Think of the last time you searched on Google for health information.  Maybe you heard a news story about gluten-free diets and Googled "What is celiac disease?" Maybe you were planning a trip to Bali, so you looked up “Zika virus” so you could take precautions. Or perhaps you were worried about a loved one, and searched to better understand their condition and prognosis.

Starting today in New Zealand, Google search results will show information for over 900 commonly searched for health conditions. The new health feature will include an outline of the condition, symptoms, diagnosis, and prevalence according to age at the top of search results. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators. Once you get this basic info from Google, you should find it easier to do more research on other sites around the web, or know what questions to ask your doctor.
This feature has been developed as more people turn to Google to help with their health queries. In fact, 1 in 20 Google searches are for health-related information. That’s why we’ve surfaced trusted, quality health information right in Google Search. We hope this will help people find the information they need more quickly and easily.

We worked with a team of medical doctors (led by our own Dr. Kapil Parakh, M.D., MPH, Ph.D.) to carefully compile, curate, and review this information. All of the gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the web. Each fact has been checked by a panel of at least ten medical doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.

That doesn’t mean these search results are intended as medical advice. We know that cases can vary in severity from person to person, and that there are bound to be exceptions. What we present is intended for informational purposes only — and you should always consult a healthcare professional if you have a medical concern.

We hope this information will empower you in your health decisions – so the next time you need information on measles or treatments for tennis elbow, Google will be a better place to start.

Posted by Isobel Solaqua, Program Manager

Share your trips and real-time location from Google Maps

“Where are you now?” and “What's your ETA?” Whether you’re heading to a party or meeting up for dinner, you probably hear questions like this pretty often from family and friends. Soon Google Maps users worldwide will be able to answer those questions in just a few taps, without ever leaving the app. On both Android and iOS, you’ll be able to share your real-time location with anyone. And the people you share with will be able to see your location on Android, iPhone, mobile web, and even desktop. Here’s how it works in a real-world scenario:

Whenever you want to let someone know where you are, just open the side menu or tap the blue dot that represents where you are. Tap “Share location” and then select who to share with and how long to share—and you're done! You can share your real-time location with your Google contacts, or even share with friends and family by sending a link on your favorite messenger apps. When you’re sharing your location, the people you’ve chosen to share with will see you on their map. And you’ll see an icon above the compass on your own map reminding you that you’re actively sharing your location. You can change your mind and stop sharing at any time — it’s entirely up to you.

Next time you’re on your way or running late, you can share your real-time location and trip progress from navigation as well. During your next trip, tap the “More” button on the bottom on the navigation screen, and then tap “Share trip.” When you share your trip with people, they’ll see your expected arrival time and can follow your journey as you head toward your destination. Sharing automatically ends when you you arrive.

Location sharing on Google Maps is rolling out soon worldwide, and you’ll be able to quickly let your friends and family know where you are and when you’ll get where you’re going. The answer to “where are you?” is only a tap away.

Daniel Resnick, Engineering Manager, Google Maps

Visit Vanuatu on Street View, and journey under the earth’s surface

More than a thousand miles off the coast of Australia is the remote country of Vanuatu, an archipelago of 80 tiny islands – brimming with lush green jungles, pristine black sand beaches, and nine erupting volcanoes.
Starting today in Google Maps, we invite you to join us on a journey to the edge of one of the largest boiling lava lakes in the world on the Vanuatuan island of Ambrym. To get inside the active volcano, we partnered with explorers Geoff Mackley and Chris Horsly, who repelled 400 meters into the Marum crater with a Street View Trekker collecting 360-degree imagery of the journey down to the molten lava lake, which is roughly the size of two football fields. “You only realize how insignificant humans are when you’re standing next to a giant lake of fiery boiling rock. It’s like looking into the surface of the sun,” said Mackley.

“Standing at the edge and feeling the heat lick your skin is phenomenal,” said Chris Horsly after returning from his descent into the crater. “I hope that by putting this place on the map people will realize what a beautiful world we live in.”

Ambrym is defined by the desolate 39 square mile volcanic caldera hosting two active volcanic cones called Benbow and Marum. But the tropical island is also home to more than 7,000 people who live in the rainforest down the mountain.While the volcano has played a significant role in defining their history due to unpredictable eruptions and influence on agriculture and environment, they’ve learned to live in harmony with this beautiful yet deadly natural phenomena.

Chief Moses in the local village of Endu explains, “We believe that the volcanoes Marum and Benbow are devils. If you go up to a volcano you have to be very careful because the two volcanoes could get angry at any time. We believe that Benbo is the husband and Marum is the wife. Sometimes when they don’t agree there’s an eruption which means the spirit is angry so we sacrifice a pig or fawel to the volcano.” As part of the Google Maps journey, Chief Moses of Endu invites you to take a walk through his village and hopes you’ll be inspired to visit this sacred place he calls home. Following Cyclone Pam a few years ago, the country has been rebuilding its infrastructure. Now Chief Moses and his  village are ready to welcome travelers rs back to Vanuatu to experience  its stunning beauty and learn about its cultural traditions. He believes making Vanuatu more accessible to the world is a key step in the island’s recovery and ability to  establish a sustainable economy and preserve its  culture.

In Street View you can wander the streets of 81 countries and visit incredible historical and natural sites around the world like the Samburu National Park in Kenya, The Grand Canyon, or New Zealand’s walking tracks. Today, for the first time, Street View is going beneath the surface and into the heart of the earth—enjoy exploring Vanuatu’s Marum Crater and Endu village at Ambrym.

Posted by Alex Starns, Street View Program Manager