Tag Archives: Innovation

Improving Search for the next 20 years

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Growing up in India, there was one good library in my town that I had access to—run by the British Council.  It was modest by western standards, and I had to take two buses just to get there. But I was lucky, because for every child like me, there were many more who didn’t have access to the same information that I did. Access to information changed my life, bringing me to the U.S. to study computer science and opening up huge possibilities for me that would not have been available without the education I had.
Ben's library
The British Council Library in my hometown.


When Google started 20 years ago, our mission was to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. That seemed like an incredibly ambitious mission at the time—even considering that in 1998 the web consisted of just 25 million pages (roughly the equivalent of books in a small library).
Fast forward to today, and now we index hundreds of billions of pages in our index—more information than all the libraries in the world could hold. We’ve grown to serve people all over the world, offering Search in more than 150 languages and over 190 countries.
Through all of this, we’ve remained grounded in our mission. In fact, providing greater access to information is as core to our work today as it was when we first started. And while almost everything has changed about technology and the information available to us, the core principles of Search have stayed the same.
  • First and foremost, we focus on the user. Whether you’re looking for recipes, studying for an exam, or finding information on where to vote, we’re focused on serving your information needs.
  • We strive to give you the most relevant, highest quality information as quickly as possible. This was true when Google started with the Page Rank algorithm—the foundational technology to Search. And it’s just as true today.
  • We see billions of queries every day, and 15 percent of queries are ones we’ve never seen before. Given this scale, the only way to provide Search effectively is through an algorithmic approach. This helps us not just solve all the queries we’ve seen yesterday, but also all the ones we can’t anticipate for tomorrow.
  • Finally, we rigorously test every change we make. A key part of this testing is the rater guidelines which define our goals in search, and which are publicly available for anyone to see. Every change to Search is evaluated by experimentation and by raters using these guidelines. Last year alone, we ran more than 200,000 experiments that resulted in 2,400+ changes to search. Search will serve you better today than it did yesterday, and even better tomorrow.
As Google marks our 20th anniversary, I wanted to share a first look at the next chapter of Search, and how we’re working to make information more accessible and useful for people everywhere. This next chapter is driven by three fundamental shifts in how we think about Search:
    Underpinning each of these are our advancements in AI, improving our ability to understand language in ways that weren’t possible when Google first started. This is incredibly exciting, because over 20 years ago when I studied neural nets at school, they didn’t actually work very well...at all!
    But we’ve now reached the point where neural networks can help us take a major leap forward from understanding words to understanding concepts. Neural embeddings, an approach developed in the field of neural networks, allow us to transform words to fuzzier representations of the underlying concepts, and then match the concepts in the query with the concepts in the document. We call this technique neural matching. This can enable us to address queries like: “why does my TV look strange?” to surface the most relevant results for that question, even if the exact words aren’t contained in the page. (By the way, it turns out the reason is called the soap opera effect).
    Finding the right information about my TV is helpful in the moment. But AI can have much more profound effects. Whether it’s predicting areas that might be affected in a flood, or helping you identify the best job opportunities for you, AI can dramatically improve our ability to make information more accessible and useful.
    I’ve worked on Search at Google since the early days of its existence. One of the things that keeps me so inspired about Search all these years is our mission and how timeless it is. Providing greater access to information is fundamental to what we do, and there are always more ways we can help people access the information they need. That’s what pushes us forward to continue to make Search better for our users. And that’s why our work here is never done.

    Posted by Ben Gomes, VP, Search, News and Assistant

    Go North to unlock the potential of AI

    The 20th century brought about incredible changes to the way we work and live. There was the combustion engine, the telephone, the assembly line and, of course, the Internet. Today artificial intelligence and machine learning is expected to bring similarly profound changes. And Canada stands poised to lead the world into this new era.

    Imagine you could take a picture of a mole on your arm and your smartphone could assist your dermatologist in diagnosing if it’s malignant. This is not science fiction, it’s a system Vancouver's MetaOptima is developing today - and it’s powered by artificial intelligence.

    From diagnosing cancer to reducing data centre energy consumption, artificial intelligence offers a new tool for tackling real-world challenges. Today, at Google Canada’s annual Go North summit, we’re bringing together AI leaders from across Canada and around the world to help Canadian industry better understand the vast potential of this technology to transform their business, shape future innovations and improve our world.

    Follow along on Twitter @GoogleCanada or tune-in to the Go North livestream (starting at 9am ET) featuring Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt; founder of DeepMind, Demis Hassabis; OpenAI’s Shivon Zilis; YouTuber Taryn Southern who uses AI to compose music; Geoffrey Hinton and many more including the founder of MetaOptima, Dr. Maryam Sadeghi.
    Go North will explore Canada’s success in building the superclusters of investment and innovation that have sprung up around the work of Yoshua Bengio in Montreal, Geoffrey Hinton in Toronto and Rich Sutton in Edmonton -- global leaders whose research underpins many of the advances we’re seeing in AI today. The conference will highlight the amazing advancements happening here in Canada and the opportunity for businesses to leverage the country’s rich research pedigree and to unlock the potential of AI. When it comes to artificial intelligence, Canada is having a moment - and we’ll seize it at Go North.

    It’s time to start sketching, Canada. Doodle 4 Google is back!

    Today’s guest post is brought to you by Canadian YouTube stars Mitch and Greg of AsapSCIENCE 
    Submissions are now open for Doodle 4 Google!
    If you’ve watched our videos, you already know how much we love science... and art! Whenever we visit the Google homepage, we’re always tickled to find a doodle, which combines the best of both. Google doodles are fun illustrations of the Google logo that celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists -- everything from the discovery of water on Mars to Canadian inventor Sandford Fleming’s 190th birthday.

    Now with Doodle 4 Google, kids have the chance to see their artwork on the Google homepage for the whole country to enjoy. Doodle 4 Google is a nationwide competition, inviting students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to redesign the Google logo.*

    As Canada blows out a whole lot of candles this year for its 150th birthday, what better way to celebrate than by imagining what the next 150 years will look like? That’s why Google is asking students to submit doodles based on the theme: “What I see for Canada’s future is…”.

    Creating the top doodle comes with major perks: not only will their artwork adorn the Google.ca homepage for a day, but the winner will receive a $10,000 university scholarship, a $10,000 technology grant for his/her school, and a paid trip to the final Doodle 4 Google event in June. For more details, check out g.co/d4gcanada.

    To help judge this year’s competition, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, En Masse co-founder Jason Botkin, president of the National Inuit Youth Council Maatalii Okalik, and Google Doodler Sophie Diao, will join us as your panel of esteemed doodle judges.

    When we come up with themes for our videos, we look to cool things in science and tech for inspiration. If you know a young artist that may need a little nudge to get their creative juices flowing, we’ve worked with Google to create classroom activities that will help parents, teachers and students brainstorm, design and submit their doodles.

    Participating is easier than ever. This year, students can submit a doodle made from almost any medium….including code! Ladies Learning Code created an online tutorial offering inspiration and a step-by-step guide to coding a Google doodle. Check it out here.

    In Toronto in April? All throughout the month of April, parents and kids can visit the Art Gallery of Ontario to get inspired and create a doodle during Family Sundays.

    Teachers and parents can download entry forms on the Doodle 4 Google site. Doodles can be uploaded digitally to Google’s site or mailed directly. Submissions are due on May 2nd. There’s no limit to the number of doodles from any one school or family... Just remember, only one doodle per student.

    Let’s get our doodle on, Canada!

    *Entrants need a parent or legal guardian’s permission (and signature on the entry form) in order to participate. Residents of Quebec must be at least thirteen years of age. Please see full terms and eligibility requirements here: doodles.google.ca/d4g/rules.html

    SXSWedu Speakers: How mentorship inspires students to make a global impact



    Editor's note: If you’re in the Austin area today for SXSWedu, come visit the Google Fiber Space (201 Colorado Street) to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom throughout the day. See the full schedule of sessions at the Google Fiber Space. Can't make it? Don't fret, all presentations will be added to the schedule after the event.

    What’s the secret to inspiring the next generation of innovators? Today SXSWedu in Austin, Texas, we’ll hear thoughts about this topic from a host of speakers, including Monica Martinez, regional director at EdTechTeam, and a panel of Google Science Fair student winners.

    While inspiration comes in many forms, it’s clear that technology, along with support from teachers, parents and advisors, is key to motivating students to make a difference in their communities and beyond. Here’s an overview of what these inspiring speakers will be sharing.

    Empowering a culture of technology and mentorship
    “Everything I’ve done in my career involves using technology to become more efficient,” says Monica Martinez. “I want to inspire educators and teachers to do the same, to solve problems and create workflows that would otherwise be cumbersome.” As regional director at EdTechTeam, her goal is to help educators embrace tools, such as Google Apps for Education, to better manage their work.

    Martinez has been passionate about technology since childhood, when she started using her uncle’s computer for school projects and to teach herself how design. She built a career in design and educational technology — the two topics that have inspired her SXSWedu session about creating the ultimate workflow for educators with Google Apps.

    “Teachers often are concerned that they don’t have enough time in the day to get everything done,” Martinez says. This problem is compounded when teachers feel ill-equipped to use new technology. Martinez leads workshops to show teachers how easy-to-use technology can help with their daily tasks.

    Beyond the efficiency benefits, technology helps to create a culture of empowerment. When educators model new technology, they can inspire students to do more with the tools at their disposal.

    “Telling students to think critically, experiment with new things and collaborate is fine, but if they don’t see their teachers, mentors and advisors doing the same, the message isn’t as strong and sometimes lost,” says Martinez.
    Topic: Efficient workflows with Google Apps
    Presenter:
    Monica Martinez, Regional Director, EdTechTeam
    When: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016, 12:30 - 1:00 pm
    Inspiring the next generation of creators
    Kavita, Elif, Naomi and Deepika are young inventors who will be speaking about how to motivate future innovators, explorers and pioneers. Aside from being Google Science Fair finalists and winners, these four young people have something else in common: supportive and dedicated mentors.

    “Many teenagers are sitting at home all over the world with big ideas and questions, but they don’t know how to get started making a difference. Teachers, parents and mentors in their communities can play a powerful role by supporting these students,” explains Andrea Cohan, program lead for the Google Science Fair.

    Students that participate in the Google Science Fair are able to explore and interact with science, engineering and their communities — global and local — in a way that enriches the typical classroom experience.

    From finding sustainable alternatives for manufacturing and water purification to improving air quality, the students on this panel have no shortage of world-changing ideas. For example, Elif, who is from Istanbul, Turkey, found a way to use banana peels to produce bio-plastic as a replacement for traditional petroleum-based plastic in her project, Going Bananas.

    SXSWedu attendees are in a position to positively impact students’ lives. “You can help them find the resources they need to get started, discuss their ideas with them and simply be a supportive sounding board. Every student on this panel attributes part of their success to the mentors, like you, in their lives,” Cohan says.
    Topic: #Howcanwe inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers and pioneers? Moderator: Stephan Turnipseed, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Destination Imagination
    Panelists: Google Science Fair winners Kavita Selva, 2013 Google Science Fair finalist Elif Bilgin, 2013 Google Science Fair Science in Action winner Naomi Shah, 2011 Google Science Fair winner, ages 15-16 Deepika Kurup, 2015 Google Science Fair National Geographic Explorer Award winner
    When: Tuesday, March 8th, 2016, 1:15 - 2:00 pm
    To hear from these speakers and more, join us for these sessions at the Google Fiber Space. If you can’t make it in person, follow #GoogleEdu to stay up to date and check the event page where we'll post the presentations. We also encourage all students ages 13-18 (from anywhere in the world!) to participate in the 2016 Google Science Fair, which is open for submissions until May 17.

    SXSWedu Speakers: Using technology to motivate students



    Editor's note: If you’re in the Austin area for SXSWedu, come visit the Google Fiber Space (201 Colorado Street) to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom today, Monday, March 7 and tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8. See the full schedule of sessions at the Google Fiber Space.

    The audience today at SXSWedu has a lofty task in front of them: inspiring and motivating the future generations to innovate, create and make a positive impact on the world. Today, we’re introducing three of the many educational technologists who are hosting sessions at the Google Fiber Space on how technology can help students excel in the classroom and in their future careers.

    Jason Carroll, Global Products Manager at Texthelp, will discuss how literacy, accessibility and dyslexia tools help students learn to love reading. Erin Mindell Cannon, Research Education Program Manager at Google, and Abby Bouchon, K12 Education Outreach Specialist at Google, will share tools and resources computer science educators can use to inspire a passion for technology in the classroom. Here’s a brief snapshot of what these speakers will be sharing. If you won’t be at SXSWedu, all presentations will be linked to the schedule after the event.

    Technology inspires struggling students to be confident
    While children are naturally curious about the world, they often lose this love of learning when they feel frustrated. “The biggest barriers to students achieving academic success is lack of effective strategies to help students when they are struggling,” Carroll says. It can be tricky for teachers to create individual lesson plans when they have classrooms of 30 or more students, all with different learning styles. Tools like Texthelp make it easier for educators to provide personalized learning plans and help students gain confidence.

    Reading proficiency is an important building block for academic success, but mastering the skill can be frustrating for students of all levels. Technology can help students improve their reading proficiency fast and practice reading aloud at their own pace. With Texthelp’s Fluency Tutor, for example, students can record themselves reading, practice until they feel confident about their effort and share the recording with their teacher. “My daughter loves using it. She’ll record herself reading a passage then listen to it. If she’s not satisfied with it, she’ll re-record it until she’s happy,” Carroll says.
    Student dashboard in Fluency Tutor from Texthelp
    Tools like these keep students engaged and allow teachers to measure progress over time, but ”it’s more than just handing over the device,” Carroll says. When you combine hands-on instruction with technology, each student gets personalized attention and encouragement.
    Topic: Help Struggling Learners Succeed with Texthelp's Read&Write for Google Chrome Presenter: Jason Carroll, Global Products Manager, Texthelp
    When: Monday, March 7th, 9:30 - 10:00 am

    Topic: Discover the Future of Reading Supports with Texthelp's Fluency Tutor for Google Presenter: Jason Carroll, Global Products Manager, Texthelp
    When: Monday, March 7th, 1:15 - 2:00 pm
    Confidence in the classroom is everything
    Erin Mindell Cannon and Abby Bouchon, who work with Google to inspire students of all backgrounds to learn computer science, believe educators play a critical role in boosting confidence. Google has published three studies on K-12 CS education and found that a key factor for guiding women to major in computer science (CS) in college is encouragement from parents, educators and peers. On the flip side, students can be discouraged from exploring CS because of the lack of diverse role models. “In another research study, we found that parents and students associate computer scientists with the stereotype of white males who wear glasses,” Bouchon says. Educators can promote a diverse range of role models and make sure the school subject is accessible and engaging for students and teachers from different backgrounds.
    Google igniteCS students from Colorado School of Mines' Discover Technology group use binary cards to get middle school students excited about Computer Science
    Students can be inspired if they feel that the work they are doing benefits society. “If a student believes she’s capable of creating a new technology that can make a positive impact on the world, that’s a motivator,” Cannon says. Students who understand the practical applications of the technology skills and the positive impact they can have in their community -- such as designing a mobile app that geotags local graffiti and organizes a volunteer event to clean it up -- are more likely to excel in the classroom.
    Topic: Celebrating Computer Science Educators Presenters: Erin Mindell Cannon, Research Education Program Manager at Google, and Abby Bouchon, K-12 Education Outreach Specialist
    When: Monday, March 7th, 3:45 - 4:30 pm
    Interested in learning more about how technology motivates students to succeed? Stop by the Google Fiber Space at 201 Colorado Street to check out these sessions and more today, March 7th.

    Showcasing creativity tools using 3D videos, maps and music at SXSWedu



    Editor's note: If you’ll be in the Austin area for SXSWedu, come visit the Google Fiber Space (201 Colorado Street) to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom on Monday, March 7 and Tuesday, March 8. See the full schedule of sessions at the Google Fiber Space and stay tuned for more posts over the next few days about other session topics and presenters.

    If SXSW is about emerging talent in the film and music space, SXSWedu is the convergence of educational creativity and social change. At this year’s South by Southwest EDU (SXSWedu) conference, we’ll be there highlighting some unique ways schools are truly changing what it means to get an education by giving students the tools to think creatively and carve their own learning path.

    We talked with three educators and technologists who will be giving sessions in the Google Fiber Space next week: Bill MacKenzie on how his students are creating a 360-degree virtual reality experience; Emily Henderson on expanding the classroom walls to take field trips across the world; and Vincent Giersch on creating music in a collaborative way.

    Students pursue their passions with virtual reality videos
    When students used virtual reality in the classroom for the first time, they leapt out of their seats and were transported to a different world. But Upper Grand District School Board took the experience one step further by having students create their own virtual reality experiences. Using a Theta 360-degree camera, students in grades 6 through 8 create videos that encourage them to think creatively and develop a new perspective on the video development process, such as storyboarding with 3D imagery.
    Students from Upper Grand District in Ontario, Canada creating documentary-style videos together
    The videos allow students to give parents and others an inside view of what it’s like to go to school at Upper Grand District. Students have created documentary-type videos showing students playing dodgeball in PE class, interacting with teachers in class and walking down the halls during break. They also have created videos that benefit the community as a whole. For example, Bill MacKenzie, IT and Program Liaison at Upper Grand District School Board, responsible for developing IT strategy and training teachers how to use technology in the classroom, wanted to convince the board of trustees to invest more in parking lot safety. Students created a 5-minute video using time lapse photography to show an hour of cars coming and going during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up, and in essence, transported the trustees to that moment in time.

    Google Cardboard gives an immersive experience for people who can’t physically be there,” MacKenzie says. “We ask kids, ‘What’s a problem you want to solve?’ and empower them to put their thinking caps on and find a solution using technology.”

    A global classroom that encourages curiosity and positive change
    As students use technology to give them a global perspective, it’s clear how important it is to increase students’ universal awareness and love for the environment. Maps and pictures from around the world encourage students to think about places from a different perspective, sparking curiosity and engagement.

    With Google Expeditions, students are able to take immersive virtual reality field trips to the farthest corners of our planet. For example, students in the Samburu Expedition traveled to north-central Kenya to learn about the unique qualities of elephant families and how harmful poaching is to the elephants and ecosystem.
    Teacher view on a tablet
    “After the field trip, Google mapping tools enable students to go nearly everywhere, learn about anywhere, create rich experiences and share their stories right from their Chromebooks,” says Emily Henderson, Google Geo Education Program Manager.

    Students are also using maps and data visualization to positively impact their communities. Using My Maps, a group of Roots & Shoots students in Syosset, New York plotted human, environmental and animal characteristics in their neighborhood to show their community places to celebrate nature in a dense urban environment and highlight local animal shelters. Students are telling stories important to them with the data collected and displayed on maps. Henderson says, “We want to inspire a new generation of global citizens who analyze the past, understand the present and protect its future.”

    Creating new music scores and performing them together in real time
    As the classroom becomes more collaborative, music students are turning individual projects into group projects using software called Flat for Education. When students compose together, they share their knowledge by combining their music creation ideas and learn from each other’s work. For example, a small group of students can write the parts for their own instrument using the collaborative music notation editor Flat and then perform the end result of individual efforts together.

    “When we created Flat for Education, we finally provided the easiest tool to help students learn how to compose together and allow them to create their own music,” says Vincent Giersch, CTO and co-founder of Flat. “We want students to be able to make magic and learn in a way that is engaging for them.”
    Music score in Flat
    Interested in learning more about these topics? Join us at SXSWedu to hear MacKenzie share tips for introducing virtual reality in classes, Henderson talk about the cool places students are traveling with Google Maps, and Giersch discuss how technology can help music students collaborate creatively.

    If you’ll be in the Austin area this week, come visit us at the Google Fiber Space to attend a range of sessions on innovation in the classroom. See the full schedule of sessions and stay tuned for more posts throughout the week.

    News Impact Summit on tour in Europe

    From the carved stone tablet to today’s touchscreen devices, the ways in which people consume journalism have evolved as technology has advanced. So too have the ways in which journalists practice their craft - a mobile device can be used to conduct interviews, record video, write and file copy. There are myriad exciting ways for reporters to get the story, and enrich it for readers with deep research and interactive tools.

    To further empower journalists and grow their digital skills, the News Lab at Google has partnered with the non-profit European Journalism Centre (EJC) to produce a series of eight News Impact Summits across Europe in 2015. The daylong events are free and will feature local practitioners, debates, insights into how stories are produced and hands-on workshops to train on a variety of tools and techniques. Our hope is to equip journalists with new digital skills and to inspire by featuring excellence in journalism from within the community.

    The first summit is on February 24 in Brussels and features speakers from the worlds of media and technology including Datawrapper, L’Echo, De Tijd, International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), JournalismFund.eu, Euractiv, the Dutch-Flemish Association for Investigative Journalism (VVOJ), Storycode, the Association of European Journalists, The Financial Times, the PressClub Brussels-Europe and Gruppo L’Espresso.

    The Brussels event will have a decidedly EU flavor but others will be centered around the host country. Future summits include March 31 in Hamburg and April 28 in Paris with additional ones to follow in Madrid, London, Amsterdam, Warsaw and Prague.

    To register for any of the events, and for program details, please visit newsimpact.io.

    Our mission at the News Lab at Google is to collaborate with journalists, entrepreneurs and publishers everywhere through product partnerships, digital tools training, and other initiatives that support the industry as a whole. We’re thrilled to work with the EJC, which fosters both quality journalism and a free press, to help create this opportunity.

    Supporting New Europe’s digital advances

    They threw off the shackles of communism. Now they are grabbing the reigns of the technology revolution. Together with Financial Times, International Visegrad Fund and Res Publica, we announced the New Europe 100 list of innovators from Central and Eastern Europe who are leveraging new technologies to transform the region in business, media, culture, science and politics.


    In announcing the project, the Financial Times noted: “central and eastern Europe say the combination of a high level of mathematical education, low overheads and a globalised, westernised young generation makes for a heady and successful mix.” We agree. The New Europe 100 winners show that this former communist region is fast moving away from its old traditional manufacturing industries. They range from “a Hungarian doctor who has created a medical advice website driven by social media, a team of Polish students who have built an award-winning robot that could operate on Mars, and a Slovak inventor of a flying car. “

    Check out the whole list at http://ne100.org/ and read more about the project and its laureates in the newest Visegrad Insight. Follow it on Twitter @NewEurope100 and tag as #NE100 elsewhere.

    The FT correctly notes that the the region still must overcome obstacles. Research and development activities is about one per cent of the region’s gross domestic product, according to McKinsey, the consultancy - half the rate in the western EU, and even behind 1.5 per cent in the Bric economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China.

    Our hope that the New Europe 100 project will help raise the profile of the region’s innovators. Recognition from being included on the list will, we believe, bring the initiatives attention, investor interest - and perhaps even potential business partnerships.

    Campus for entrepreneurs opens in Warsaw

    Campus is coming to Warsaw! Across Poland and Central Eastern Europe, innovators and entrepreneurs are building exciting new businesses, making the Polish capital a natural choice to launch our next Campus. We currently operate Campuses in London and Tel Aviv.



    Campuses are Google's spaces for entrepreneurs to learn, connect, and build companies that will change the world. In them, entrepreneurs get unparalleled access to mentorship and training from their local startup community, experienced entrepreneurs, and Google teams. Campus Warsaw will join the Google for Entrepreneurs network.

    Our Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt met with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk for today's inauguration. “Google started as a startup in garage, so supporting startups is part of our DNA," Eric said. "Our hope is that Campus Warsaw will supercharge tech entrepreneurs, strengthen the startup ecosystem and encourage even more innovation in Poland.”

    The new Campus represents only part of our ongoing investment throughout the region. In Krakow, we have opened the Google for Entrepreneurs Krakow program. Along with Warsaw University, we have launched the Digital Economy Lab, with the goal of spreading knowledge about the crucial role digital technology plays in powering the economy and about what policies are required to generate maximum digital acceleration. Along with the Visegrad Fund, ResPublica and the Financial Times, we have started New Europe Challengers campaign to identify the next generation of innovators.

    We’ll have more news about the details of Campus Warsaw soon, and look forward to filling it with startups in 2015!