Tag Archives: Inside Google

Furthering our New York investment

It’s been 18 years since Google NYC first established our single-person sales “office” in a Starbucks on 86th St. After moving from 86th St to a more official space in Times Square, we settled into our current home at111 8th Ave in 2006. It’s been eight years since we purchased the building but not before taking on additional space as a tenant in Chelsea Market and 85 10th Ave. Today, we’re excited to announce we’ve closed a deal with Jamestown Properties to purchase the Manhattan Chelsea Market building for $2.4 billion.


Chelsea Market is a cornerstone of the Chelsea-Meatpacking district and has been serving the local community for over 20 years. The iconic ground floor market attracts visitors from all around the world and provides a great experience for foodies and shoppers alike. With our purchase of the building, we’ve agreed to work together with Jamestown to ensure a smooth transition with little or no impact to the community and tenants of the building. As part of this effort, Jamestown will continue to manage the retail and food hall.


Since our first days in New York, we’ve grown to roughly 7,000 employees, representing more than 70 countries and speaking 50+ languages. A broad range of Google’s engineering, product and business operations groups are represented at our New York office, with large teams focusing on projects including Search, Ads, Maps, YouTube, Cloud, Technical Infrastructure, Sales and Research.


This purchase further solidifies our commitment to New York, and we believe the Manhattan Chelsea Market will continue to be a great home for us and a vital part of the neighborhood and community. We're proud to be part of a city that's a cross section of so many industries and cultures, and as we look ahead to the next 18 years and beyond, we’ll continue to invest in our growth and commitment to the city.

The She Word: how Emily Hanley shares her passion for computer science

Editor’s Note: The She Word is a Keyword series all about dynamic and creative women at Google. Last week, the Grow with Google tour—which brings workshops, one-on-one coaching, and hands-on demos to cities across the U.S.—stopped in Lansing, Michigan. Emily Hanley, one of our very own software engineers and a Michigan native, taught introductory coding classes at the event. We spoke to her about returning to her hometown to teach, exposing more kids to computer science, and how her Google Home helps her have more dance parties with her kids.

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What was your biggest takeaway from Grow with Google in Lansing?
It was inspiring to see so many people excited about the opportunity to not only interact with Google products, but to try out programming.

What was one memorable moment of the day?
Seeing the “ah ha” moments when people realized they had actually written code and produced something on their own. The classrooms were packed all day long, and it was so neat to interact with people who realized the potential of what they had just learned to do. People shared their stories of how they were already using technology in their fields, and this class helped them think about how they could do even more.

Lansing Grow with Google event was close to where you grew up.What was it like to go back to your hometown?
It’s amazing to see the investment in towns like Lansing, and to witness the revitalization that’s happening. People are bringing new ideas and technology to industries that have existed in Michigan for decades.

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How did you get your start at Google?
I started as an intern in 2007 and have been here ever since—you could say I’ve grown up with Google.

How do you explain your job at a dinner party?
I’m a software engineer—I speak the language of computers. I work on the Chrome browser and make sure that other engineers who write code for Chrome don’t make it slower.

What advice do you have for girls who want to be engineers?
Don’t be afraid to dig in. Sometimes that means failing, but failure is a natural discovery that helps you figure out what you’re good at. Always ask the question that’s on your mind—chances are half the room is thinking the same thing, and more importantly, it’s how you grow.

Tell us about your path to computer science.
I didn’t learn about computers until college. I was more into physics and chemistry, and computers seemed like a black box. That’s part of why I’m so passionate about computer science education—if I can pass on what I’ve learned to the next generation, they can make something even bigger. They’ll do it tenfold.

When kids are exposed to CS at a young age, it becomes a crucial tool for them. It’s not just a platform for playing games. And you can use CS no matter what your passion is. If it’s fashion or journalism or something else, CS can be a part of it.

Who has helped you along your journey?
My mom always told me there’s never a dream too big. She was always an advocate and a dreamer. Whenever I’ve felt intimidated, or had less technical experience that others in the room, I thought, “Dang it, I’ll work harder and find the next door to bang down.” My mom taught me that.

How do you pass that advice onto your own (five!) kids?
The biggest thing I want to give all my children is confidence in themselves and their abilities to pursue their passion (I always say “pursue your passion, not a paycheck”). So often people internalize criticisms and roadblocks as indications they aren't good enough to keep going on that path, instead of seeing those roadblocks as opportunities to grow.

What role does technology play in your family life?
I have five kids under the age of 7. I try to make technology part of our everyday life, but not the main focus of it. We utilize our Google Home for things like dance parties and measurements when cooking. We use Google for school projects, printing coloring sheets and buying birthday presents. We take tons of photos and make Google Photobooks from our phones so we can have them on our coffee table. I want them to use technology as a tool to aid in their lives, but I don't want it to replace human connections.

The She Word: Winnie Lam, helping Google do the right thing for the planet

Editor’s Note: The She Word is a Keyword series all about dynamic and creative women at Google. This week, Google and the World Wildlife Fund announced the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online. We sat down with Winnie Lam, who works on our environmental sustainability team, to learn more about this effort and what it means to be the “Captain of Earthly Elements” (her actual title) at Google.

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How do you explain your job at a dinner party?
I’m responsible for environmental sustainability for Google data centers. My team’s job is to help Google do the right thing for the planet.

Have you always been interested in sustainability?
My dad’s first business was a car junkyard—he’d buy the cars that didn’t work and sell the parts. The concept of “reuse and recycle” was part of everything he did, and a big part of my upbringing. My whole family now works in that business.

Tell us about the years-long journey to the formation of the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online.
In 2012, I led an effort to ban the sale of ivory through Google ads and Google Shopping. I'm not an expert on the ivory issue, so I sought help from World Wildlife Fund, and we dreamed of getting other tech companies to ban ivory and illegal wildlife products. This vision started taking shape at an inaugural meeting with WWF and major tech companies to stop wildlife trafficking online. And now 21 companies across North America, Asia, Europe, and Africa have joined the fight against wildlife trafficking.

How One Googler Stopped People From Selling Ivory

Learn more about Winnie's efforts to ban the sale of ivory through Google ads and Google Shopping

How’d you come up with your job title?
I gave myself the title “Captain of Earthly Elements,” because in my job, I work with the four classic elements: earth, water, air and fire.

You’ve been at Google for 13 years! What has kept you here?
I’ve had many roles over 13 years—from site reliability engineering to product management for our ads products to my current role. I’ve been very lucky that I can align personal and professional goals in the same job, and I’ve had several 20 percent projects (side projects that Googlers can dedicate part of their time to) that involve one of my biggest passions, animals. The effort to ban ivory started as a 20 percent project, actually.

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Winnie's handmade Halloween costume

Wow, what started as a 20 percent project is now a global coalition. Can you tell us about any other fun 20 percent projects?
For a few years, I recruited Googlers to go on a trip to Belize to measure the turtle population, along with scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society—that was a fun one.

What other things do you do in your free time?
I’m an artist and a musician. When I bought my house, I couldn’t find any furniture that I liked, so I decided to design my own. Now the environment is inspiration for my art—a couple of years ago when California was in an extreme drought, I dressed up as an artificial lawn for Halloween (handmade costume!). Couldn’t turn down the opportunity to make that statement.

What’s one habit that makes you successful?
I keep my eyes on the outcome, and always look for something in common with people. Not everyone cares about the environment as much as I do, but I can find common ground. For example, energy efficiency saves money, which can appeal to someone who works in finance, even if the environment isn’t a top priority for them.

What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?
There’s no career path—you invent it, it’s in your hands. Figure out what demand there is for the thing you’re passionate about, and how your skills and network can be used.

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Winnie and Jane Goodall

Who has been a strong female influence in your life?
I’ve had many mentors along the way. I grew up going to an all-girls school, so female influences were everywhere in my life. Women as leaders were the norm. I once met Jane Goodall at a conference and had 60-second conversation with her about my idea to approach chefs in San Francisco, and ask them to stop serving bluefin tuna at their restaurant. She looked at me and said, "That's the only way to do it." She gave me confidence and validation to keep going, and I haven't stopped since.

Talks at Google gets reel with award-worthy actors, actresses and filmmakers

Editor’s Note: Talks at Google is our regular speaker series that brings interesting speakers and brilliant minds from all industries and backgrounds to Google campuses. Each month, we select a few favorite talks from that month, or about a particular topic.


Every year, some of the world’s most celebrated actors, actresses and others in the film industry are nominated for Academy Awards, and a lucky few of the nominees have 45 seconds to give their acceptance speeches on stage. At Google, we’ve gotten to hear from them for a bit longer than that.


In honor of the big awards ceremony this weekend, we’ve pulled together a list of the Oscar-nominated/winning actors, actresses and filmmakers who have stopped by Google over the years.

First, the 2018 nominees …

Allison Williams, Daniel Kaluuya: "Get Out"

Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya from "Get Out"

Tom Hanks & Bob Odenkirk: "The Post

Tom Hanks and Bob Odenkirk from "The Post"

Harrison Ford: "Blade Runner 2049

Harrison Ford from "Blade Runner 2049"

And nominees and winners from previous years:

We’ve got a few more seconds before the “wrap it up” music starts—if you have time to watch more, check out the 2017 Talks at Google Year in Review, subscribe to Talks at Google on YouTube, follow them on Twitter or browse their website.


New and expanding locations across America

Our goal is to ensure that information serves everyone, not just a few. To do this, we want to hire people to develop our products in the widest possible range of locations, around the world and throughout the United States. 

We opened our first office outside California in 2000. Now Google has offices and data centers in 21 states in the U.S, and last year we grew faster outside the Bay Area than in it. This year we plan on hiring thousands more people. To support that growth, today we’re announcing new or expanded offices and data centers in 14 states across the country. 

Google offices and data centers 2018

This afternoon, I was at the groundbreaking for our new data center in Clarksville/Montgomery County in Tennessee. The Tennessee data center is part of a $2.5 billion dollar investment we’re making to open or expand data centers in Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia and Oklahoma. These data centers are what make Google services run for you or your business (in Tennessee alone, we answer millions of searches a day, and about 18,000 businesses and nonprofits use our search and advertising tools).

And our data centers also have a strong impact on the economies around them. People often discuss “the cloud” as if it’s built out of air. But it’s actually made up of buildings, machinery, and people who construct and manage it all. Today we employ an estimated 1,900 people directly on our data center campuses. We’ve created thousands of construction jobs—both for our data centers themselves, and for renewable energy generation. And our renewable energy purchasing commitments to date will result in energy infrastructure investments of more than $3.5 billion globally, about two-thirds of that in the United States.

In addition to these five data centers, we’re investing in new or expanded offices in nine states: California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. Having talented people from different places, bringing diverse perspectives and backgrounds to work, is essential to the development of our products. In these locations, there will be jobs for thousands of people in a variety of roles—engineering, operations, sales and more.

The launch of Google’s data center in Clarksville is great news for Montgomery County. These high-quality jobs will benefit families in a real way, and I applaud Google's mission to improve education and advance workforce development for Americans. Senator Bob Corker
Tennessee

In addition to job opportunities at Google, our recently announced Grow with Google initiative continues to create opportunities for more people across the country. As part of our $1 billion commitment over the next five years, I was thrilled today to announce a $300,000 Google.org grant to Goodwill of Middle Tennessee, to incorporate new digital skills trainings into their workforce-development program—including new local scholarships for our IT Support Professional Certificate.  

We’re proud to be a growing part of the Clarksville/Montgomery County community and others like it across the country. And we’re committed to helping more people participate in the opportunities that technology provides.

The She Word: Frances Kwee turns up the volume on Google hardware

Editor’s Note: The She Word is a Keyword series all about dynamic and creative women at Google. Now that Google Home Max has hit the shelves at Best Buy and Verizon, we sat down with Frances Kwee, an audio engineer who spends most of her time working on our smart speakers in a sound studio at the Googleplex. 

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How do you explain your job at a dinner party?

As an acoustics engineer, I’m responsible for building audio systems that go into products like Google Home and Google Home Max.

What sets Google Home Max apart from other speakers on the market?

Though we design our audio systems in special sound labs at Google, we recognize that we’re not selling speakers to operate in sound studios. They’re going into all types of living spaces, where the sounds will reverberate differently. So we created Smart Sound, which uses machine learning to adjust to whatever space the speaker is in. Since all homes are different, we trained our machine learning model to recognize thousands of different room configurations. This helps Google Home Max to adapt to the setup of your room: if you move it from your bookshelf against the wall to an end table across the room, it can evaluate its new surroundings and will automatically adjust.

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Here’s Frances in the sound studio (official term is “anechoic chamber”) with Mike Asfaw, an audio hardware engineer.

Break this down for the non-experts: how do you ensure high-quality sound in the speakers?

With Max, one of our goals was to increase volume but limit distortion. Think about when you play music on your phone’s tiny speaker at top volume. It sounds raspy and muffled—not what you expect from a premium smart speaker.


So we used a computer program to simulate the speaker performance in dozens of scenarios, which helped us predict what the speaker would sound like before we built it. We also used a 3D printer to make prototypes to test out different buckets and grills. We ended up creating nearly 100 different 3D printed versions of Google Home Max before we landed on the final design!

How do you make products broadly appealing?

As a mom, I ask myself, “How can more families benefit from our products?” I step back to think about the different ways a family would use a smart speaker.

We’re also trying to bring these products into homes of people who might be intimidated by technology, but we’re showing them that it’s easy to use. My parents have a Google Home—before I worked on the product, I never would have thought they’d be able to figure out how to use it. Now, they’re total pros.


Tell us about some of the early products you worked on.

Early in my career I worked on the 3G RAZR flip phone—my first foray into building smooth audio before anyone had smartphones. It was pretty revolutionary at the time, being able to put a decent sounding speaker into such a slim phone. In a way, it’s similar to Google Home Max. Though Max is big for a smart speaker, we packed in two 4.5-inch woofers that have 22mm of excursion, which means it can hit a wide range of low frequencies.  


Choose to work on the really hard projects—they are risky, but entirely rewarding.

Who has been a strong female influence in your life?

My mother immigrated on her own from Indonesia to Canada after high school. She got a chemical engineering degree in 1975, and was one of only two women in her class. She taught me how important it is to work your hardest and never quit.  

What advice do you have for women starting out in their careers?

Choose to work on the really hard projects—they are risky, but entirely rewarding. I once spent an entire year on a project that never made it out the door. It was a risk, but I don’t view it as a failure—the lessons I learned from that project set me up for success in building the smart speakers that I work on now.

Are you into music outside of work?

I’m professionally trained in piano—I’ve been playing since I was four. And I used to play lead guitar in a cover band in Chicago. We played everything from Stevie Wonder to The Clash to Britney Spears, but my favorite song to perform was “What’s Love Got to Do with It” by Tina Turner.

Do you have a favorite band?

Radiohead. Jonny Greenwood is a guitar god.

What’s one habit that makes you successful?

Being able to multitask but never lose focus on the big picture.

The She Word: going behind hardware design with Ivy Ross

Editor’s Note: The She Word is a Keyword series all about powerful, dynamic and creative women at Google. Intrigued by the unique aesthetic of Google’s new family of hardware devices released in October, we sat down with the woman who leads the design team: Ivy Ross. In the interview below, she shares with us how she approaches design at work, and life outside of work.

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How do you explain your job at a dinner party?

I lead a team that creates how a Google product—including Google Home, the Pixel laptop and wearables—looks, feels and acts when you hold it in your hands.

What advice would you give to women starting out in their careers?

Be fearless in using your heart and mind in what you do, and bring more beauty into the world.

Who has been a strong female influence in your life?

My daughter. Seeing the world through her eyes at various stages of her life has given me a “beginner’s mind” in much of what I do.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I’ve always wanted to be a designer/maker. My dad, who had a big influence on me, was an industrial designer and built the house I grew up in—the house was so ahead of its time that Andy Warhol used it to shoot a movie back in the late 70’s.

When I was 12 years old, I made a dress out of chain mail metal and wore it to a bar mitzvah. I linked together thousands of metal squares that made up the dress, designed a necklace that attached to the dress, and made a purse out of the chain mail to match. Even back then, I was designing for efficiency! Instead of bringing needle and thread in case the dress ripped, I carried a screwdriver.

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Ivy in her homemade dress (screwdriver not pictured).

What is one habit that makes you successful?

Trusting my instincts on both people and ideas.

How is designing hardware different than designing software?

Unlike software, you can’t fix hardware through a new release or update. You need more time up front because once something is tooled, you can make very few adjustments.

What is the most important design principle for Google’s hardware?

Human. By that I mean friendly, emotionally-appealing and easy to fit into your life and your home. I believe more time we spend in front of flat screens, the more we’ll crave soft and tactile three-dimensional shapes. This is reflected in the fabric in Home Mini, Home Max and Daydream View, the texture of Pixel phones and Pixel Books, and the soft silicon pad where you rest your wrist while typing on the PixelBook.

Are there any design innovations you’re especially proud of in this year’s hardware lineup?

The way we used fabric for Home Mini was not an easy path. It required special construction to accomplish the simplicity of the form with great acoustics. Some of the things that look the simplest can actually be the hardest to construct! I’m proud that we created a beautiful group of products without sacrificing their function.

I’m proud that we created a beautiful group of products without sacrificing their function.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I don’t spend much time looking at other electronics beyond what I need to understand about the market. You can’t create anything new by only looking within your own category so I draw inspiration from art, materials, furniture, music, nature and people. My dad taught how to look at something and see more than what appears on the surface.

You're also a jewelry designer with big accomplishments at a young age. What did you learn from that?

Having gotten my work in museums around the world by age 25, I realized that life is not about the end goal, it’s about the journey and the adventure along the way with others.

12 things you may have missed from Google this year

It’s been a busy year, from our second generation of Made by Google hardware, to our efforts to create more opportunity for everyone. But before we head into the new year, we’re taking a look at a few things you may have missed in 2017. Here are 12 things that caught our attention:

1. From drawing to playing piano, and from new cookie recipes to better GIPHY search, machine learning came to life in unexpected ways.

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2. #TeamPixel gave us a new perspective through photos captured with the Google Pixel and Pixel 2 phones. Through their lens, you can travel the world, play with light, meet some new friends and live in color.

3. We met dozens of interesting Googlers from across the company—like Hector Mujica, who manages disaster relief giving for Google.org; creative director Tea Uglow; Google AI Resident Suhani Vora; Seth Marbin, the creator of our annual volunteering program GoogleServe; and a handful of Googlers who shared their stories on National Coming Out Day. We even got to ride along with Google Cloud luminaries Diane Greene and Fei-Fei Li on their way to work.

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4. With Google Arts & Culture, we explored some of the world’s cultural treasures from anywhere. Pore over the details of the Ghent Altarpiece, an early Northern Renaissance masterpiece, in ultra-high resolution; scale the undulating roof of the Guggenheim in Bilbao; see 30,000 fashion pieces on the virtual catwalk with We Wear Culture; and rumble with the Jets and the Sharks from “West Side Story.”

Bending Gravity at the Museum Guggenheim Bilbao

5. We launched a variety of updates aimed at making the internet better for the next billion users coming online—like Tez and Files Go in India, YouTube Go in Nigeria, health answers in Indonesia, Google Duo audio calling in Brazil, Android Oreo (Go edition), Datally, and lots more.

6. Nat and Friends took us behind the scenes of our technology and products to learn how undersea internet cables work, explain Google Earth’s 3D imagery, find out how the Pixel 2 camera was built, understand Wi-Fi and explore what’s possible with VR today.

Nat and Friends

7. Street View celebrated its 10th anniversary and went to places as remote as Greenland and the northernmost park in Canada; rappelled into the heart of a volcano in Vanuatu and stopped by Australia’s sacred site of Uluṟu; got down on its claws with migrating crabs in Christmas Island; and braved the warring factions in Westeros.

9. When Android Oreo sprung on the scene, we welcomed a new set of emoji and said a sad goodbye to the (sometimes) beloved “blobs.” 

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Later, we said goodbye to the cheese below the burger.

10. We welcomed all kinds of visitors to Google’s campuses—including the winner of the National Spelling Bee; the talented young women finalists of the Technovation Challenge; two Golden State Warriors and 250+ local kids at a sports-themed Tech Slam event; countless authors, actors and thinkers for Talks at Googlestray dogs at our data center in Chile (who all found homes!); and even our parents

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai with Technovation Challenge finalists

11. Doodles shed light on amazing people, discoveries and moments from history and today. We celebrated Selena’s legacy and the birth of Hip Hop; learned about Komodo dragons and pangolins; commemorated the first Pride flag and the 100th anniversary of the Silent Parade; cooked up kimchipunched holes and lots more. Check out more Doodles from this year in our Doodles archive.

12. We spaced out—literally. From using machine learning to find exoplanets, to celebrating the Cassini mission, to more exoplanets, to the Great American Eclipse and the accompanying Eclipse Megamovie, to visiting Mars in VR, to visiting the International Space Station in Street View and planets in Maps, something was in the atmosphere.

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And that’s a wrap on 2017! Happy new year!

Talks at Google we fell for this fall

Editor’s Note: Talks at Google is our regular speaker series that brings interesting speakers and brilliant minds from all industries and backgrounds to Google campuses. Each month, we select a few favorite talks from that month, or about a particular topic.


In November, we cracked the code on classical music, went deep on economics and history, and soared high with a talk about Mars (and that’s not even the science-fiction part). Check out a few of our favorite Talks at Google from November.

Former Googler Laura Lark shares what it was like to be on the fifth HI-SEAS (Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) mission. Designed to study human behavior and performance, the mission helps NASA determine the individual and team requirements for long-duration space exploration missions—including travel to Mars.

Laura Lark: "Mission to Mars"

Nobel Peace Prize winner and bestselling author Muhammad Yunus chats about his book, “A World of Three Zeroes: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Carbon Emissions.” Yunus shares his thoughts on capitalism being broken, and ideas about a new economic system that unleashes altruism as a creative force just as powerful as self-interest.

Muhammad Yunus

Podcaster and “hardcore historian” Dan Carlin describes how the future will be influenced by new forms of media and storytelling. Mediums like podcasts will give historians “nuggets of gold that they can mine later,” preserving stories that “would have died in a bar somewhere” for millions of people to hear.

Dan Carlin

Actor and comedian Seth MacFarlane and his creative team dish about the making of their FOX show “The Orville.” They cover their everything from their creative influences—when writing science fiction, Seth looks for something that "sits with him like a bad meal”—to how writing for “The Orville” differs from past shows like “Futurama.”

Seth MacFarlane

Members of the Grammy-nominated chamber orchestra Metropolis Ensemble join together with composer and programmer Elliot Cole, who reveals his imaginative process using custom code as a springboard for real-time music composition and discovery.

Metropolis Ensemble

An AI Resident at work: Suhani Vora and her work on genomics

Suhani Vora is a bioengineer, aspiring (and self-taught) machine learning expert, SNES Super Mario World ninja, and Google AI Resident. This means that she’s part of a 12-month research training program designed to jumpstart a career in machine learning. Residents, who are paired with Google AI mentors to work on research projects according to their interests, apply machine learning to their expertise in various backgrounds—from computer science to epidemiology.

I caught up with Suhani to hear more about her work as an AI Resident, her typical day, and how AI can help transform the field of genomics.

Phing: How did you get into machine learning research?

Suhani: During graduate school, I worked on engineering CRISPR/Cas9 systems, which enable a wide range of research on genomes. And though I was working with the most efficient tools available for genome editing, I knew we could make progress even faster.

One important factor was our limited ability to predict what novel biological designs would work. Each design cycle, we were only using very small amounts of previously collected data and relied on individual interpretation of that data to make design decisions in the lab.

By failing to incorporate more powerful computational methods to make use of big data and aid in the design process, it was affecting our ability to make progress quickly. Knowing that machine learning methods would greatly accelerate the speed of scientific discovery, I decided to work on finding ways to apply machine learning to my own field of genetic engineering.

I reached out to researchers in the field, asking how best to get started. A Googler I knew suggested I take the machine learning course by Andrew Ng on Coursera (could not recommend it more highly), so I did that. I’ve never had more fun learning! I had also started auditing an ML course at MIT, and reading papers on deep learning applications to problems in genomics. Ultimately, I took the plunge and and ended up joining the Residency program after finishing grad school.  

Tell us about your role at Google, and what you’re working on right now.

I’m a cross-disciplinary deep learning researcher—I research, code, and experiment with deep learning models to explore their applicability to problems in genomics.

In the same way that we use machine learning models to predict the objects are present in an image (think: searching for your dogs in Google Photos), I research ways we can build neural networks to automatically predict the properties of a DNA sequence. This has all kinds of applications, like predicting whether a DNA mutation will cause cancer, or is benign.

What’s a typical day like for you?

On any given day, I’m writing code to process new genomics data, or creating a neural network in TensorFlow to model the data. Right now, a lot of my time is spent troubleshooting such models.

I also spend time chatting with fellow Residents, or a member of the TensorFlow team, to get their expertise on the experiments or code I’m writing. This could include a meeting with my two mentors, Mark DePristo and Quoc Le, top researchers in the field of machine learning who regularly provide invaluable guidance for developing the neural network models I’m interested in.

What do you like most about the AI Residency program? About working at Google?

I like the freedom to pursue topics of our interest, combined with the strong support network we have to get things done. Google is a really positive work environment, and I feel set up to succeed. In a different environment I wouldn’t have the chance to work with a world-class researcher in computational genomics like Mark, AND Quoc, one of the world’s leading machine learning researchers, at time same time and place. It’s pretty mind-blowing.

What kind of background do you need to work in machine learning?

We have such a wide array of backgrounds among our AI Residents! The only real common thread I see is a very strong desire to work on machine learning, or to apply machine learning to a particular problem of choice. I think having a strong background in linear algebra, statistics, computer science, and perhaps modeling makes things easier—but these skills are also now accessible to almost anyone with an interest, through MOOCs!

What kinds of problems do you think that AI can help solve for the world?

Ultimately, it really just depends how creative we are in figuring out what AI can do for us. Current deep learning methods have become state of the art for image recognition tasks, such as automatically detecting pets or scenes in images, and natural language processing, like translating from Chinese to English. I’m excited to see the next wave of applications in areas such as speech recognition, robotic handling, and medicine.

Interested in the AI Residency? Check out submission details and apply for the 2018 program on our Careers site.