Tag Archives: United Kingdom

YouTube music hits the right note

You watched the Belgian singer Stromae perform Papaoutai 200+ million times on YouTube, helping propel the song about his father to the top of the charts in France and into a global success. And that’s all just for one song.

This week, we’re making it easier to find new music on YouTube and rock out to old favorites by launching a new paid subscription service called Music Key. It lets you watch and listen to music without ads, in the background or offline and is available already in the United Kingdom, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, with more countries to come soon. If you’re interested in getting more info on the beta, you can let us know at youtube.com/musickey.

Music Key represents a big step forward in our blossoming partnership with the music industry. We've struck new deals with the major producers, thousands of independent record labels, collecting societies and music publishers.  Thanks to your music videos, remixes, covers, and more, you’ve made YouTube the place to go for the music fan.

YouTube benefits both the established musicians as well as newcomers, sending them more than $1 billion.

Of course, YouTube is much more than music. Other types of content creators - from educational to comedy shows - also are finding an audience earning money in our partnership programs.  More  -one million channels today earn revenue through the YouTube Partner Program. Thousands of channels make six figures annually. We look forward to continuing to develop new online opportunities for Europe's creators. 

Posted by the YouTube Music team, which recently watched “Michael Jackson - Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' - YouTube Mix.”

Teaming up with Oxford University on Artificial Intelligence

It is a really exciting time for Artificial Intelligence research these days, and progress is being made on many fronts including image recognition and natural language understanding. Today we are delighted to announce a partnership with Oxford University to accelerate Google’s research efforts in these areas.

The Oxford skyline. Credit Oxford University Images
Google DeepMind will be working with two of Oxford’s cutting edge Artificial Intelligence research teams. Prof Nando de Freitas, Prof Phil Blunsom, Dr Edward Grefenstette and Dr Karl Moritz Hermann, who teamed up earlier this year to co-found Dark Blue Labs, are four world leading experts in the use of deep learning for natural language understanding. They will be spearheading efforts to enable machines to better understand what users are saying to them.

Also joining the DeepMind team will be Dr Karen Simonyan, Max Jaderberg and Prof Andrew Zisserman, one of the world’s foremost experts on computer vision systems, a Fellow of the Royal Society, and the only person to have been awarded the prestigious Marr Prize three times. As co-founders of Vision Factory, their aim was to improve visual recognition systems using deep learning. Dr Simonyan and Prof Zisserman developed one of the winning systems at the recent 2014 ImageNet competition, which is regarded as the most competitive and prestigious image recognition contest in the world.

Google DeepMind has hired all seven founders of these startups with the three professors holding joint appointments at Oxford University where they will continue to spend part of their time. These exciting partnerships underline how committed Google DeepMind is to supporting the development of UK academia and the growth of strong scientific research labs.

As a part of the collaboration, Google DeepMind will be making a substantial donation to establish a research partnership with the Computer Science Department and the Engineering Department at Oxford University, which will include a program of student internships and a series of joint lectures and workshops to share knowledge and expertise.

We are thrilled to welcome these extremely talented machine learning researchers to the Google DeepMind team and are excited about the potential impact of the advances their research will bring.

Promoting social mobility through the Internet

Policymakers often worry that the Internet creates a small number of winners and too many losers in the economy. At the same time, we have heard stories about the rise of self-employment and the creation of fast-growing companies in garages (like Google). In order to investigate the Internet’s impact on social mobility and equality, we asked British economist and former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Kitty Ussher, to investigate.

Her new research, published this month, analyzed government data and Google Apps customers, and reached a surprising conclusion. Rather than worsening inequality, the Internet is improving the lot of economically vulnerable people across the United Kingdom. One example: the report shows that parents of young children are more likely to engage in online selling from home than singles. In other words, the Internet allow potentially vulnerable families convenient alternatives to traditional employment.

Interestingly, Internet success no longer requires PhDs. Nearly half of Google Apps customers surveyed whose highest qualification is a GSCE high school diploma, secured incomes of over £45,000. Another 20 percent earned between £30,000 and £45,000. These people achieved above average incomes through online selling, impossible before the Internet.

Success on the Internet can be achieved anywhere, with businesses from more remote parts of the UK taking advantage. As Ms Ussher concludes, “It is not just the uber-professional elite that is exploiting the commercial opportunities that the Internet has to offer.”

The Internet is a leveler. It offers new options to make a living regardless of one’s background or education. This new opportunity is paying dividends for families across the UK.

Sharing spectrum at the ZSL London Zoo

Live video of meerkats, Asian otters and giant Galapagos tortoises from the world’s oldest zoo are coming to YouTube. The world loves to watch cute animal videos. This time, it’s also worth looking at the technology behind the videos.

Today, Google and ZSL London Zoo, opened on April 28, 1827, are launching a trial to test an innovative way of sharing spectrum to power these live video feeds. MediaTek and 6Harmonics are supplying the Wi-Fi equipment and devices being using during the trial.

Radio spectrum is a scarce resource. It is required every time we make a mobile phone call, use Wi-Fi, or listen to the radio. Spectrum is divided into different frequency bands to avoid interference between, say, a radio station and a mobile phone call. As more people go online and the number of wireless devices grows, so does the demand for spectrum.

Within the spectrum used for broadcast TV, there are unused parts which are commonly known as ‘TV White Spaces’ (or TVWS for short). This spectrum is helpful because it can travel longer distances and through physical barriers, providing wireless connectivity in places where other technology can’t — including the centre of one of the busiest cities in the world, in spots where the zoo would have normally needed a wired connection.

Because spectrum is scarce, policymakers and technology companies have been working on guidelines to help allow the shared use of White Spaces. Sharing spectrum in this way could open up many new opportunities for wireless innovation.

The UK is quickly becoming a pioneer of spectrum sharing, thanks to favorable regulation from Ofcom, which is responsible for managing spectrum. This is the first time that Google’s spectrum database is being used in the UK after being certified last year in the US. The database ensures that TVWS can be shared by multiple users without interference — one of the top goals of this trial. These contributions, in addition to the use of new devices that use standard Wi-Fi protocols, show that TVWS technology is gaining momentum around the world.

After testing the technology, the London Zoo is exploring other ways it can use TVWS to help monitor and protect endangered animals in the wild. Last year, the zoo won a Google Global Impact Award to help develop the Instant Wild system, which uses satellite cameras to provide instant alerts to rangers to help tackle the poaching of rhinos and elephants. We’re delighted that this trial can help power such innovations, bringing wireless connectivity to places where other options won’t work.

Creating value from data

At Google, we like to experiment. Today we are experimenting with a guest blogpost from the UK innovation charity Nesta. Although we had no involvement in this study of how companies best can benefit from the information age, we think it offers a valuable contribution on Europe’s skills debate and wanted to share the conclusions.

We are living in the middle of a data explosion – a rich opportunity, but also a much
misunderstood one. In previous research, we showed that businesses which analyse their data intensively become 10% more productive than their average competitor. By contrast, collecting data on its own has little impact on performance.

Our newly published research, ModelWorkers, the first report in a project in collaboration with Creative Skillset and The Royal Statistical Society, looks at the data skills that businesses need to produce these impacts.

Model Workers
Interviews with 45 experts in UK data-driven companies reveal that all types of companies are converging into the ‘big data’ space. from pharmaceutical giants to small retailers and manufacturers. All are all experimenting with bigger, messier and faster data, and catching up with leading players in software, advertising, games and finance.

As a result, everyone is looking for the same ‘perfect data analyst’, or ‘data scientist’: a creative worker with analytical, coding and business skills, team working and charisma. These people are hard to find. Four out of five of the companies we interviewed say they struggle to find data scientists.

In Model Workers we identify interventions to remove these shortages. They include up-skilling established professionals such as statisticians, programmers and social scientists, developing vocational training in universities and encouraging more crossover between computer science, statistics and business disciplines. We also need to build up communities of data practice, and develop training and professional standards. Policymakers should make it easier for foreign students to work in Europe after completing data analysis courses.

In the longer term we need to improve the teaching of maths at schools, and change false perceptions of data work as boring and dull. Some of the most exciting and creative jobs across the economy today – from developing new games to discovering new drugs – are based on data, and we need to make sure everyone is aware of this crucial trend.

Change the world: the 2014 Google Science Fair Global Finalists

Samuel Burrow, 16,from the U.K., wants to improve the environment by reducing pollution. Taking inspiration from the chemical used in sunscreen, Samuel created a special coating that reduces waste chemicals in the air when subjected to ambient light. Guillaume Rolland,17, from France, aims to revolutionize mornings by creating a scent which will wake you up with maximum energy at a prescribed time.

These are just a few of the European examples of the 15 incredible projects we’ve named as the global finalists for 2014 Google Science Fair. This is our fourth time hosting the competition as a way to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers. From Russia to Australia, India to Canada, this year’s finalists (ages 13-18) are already well on their way to greatness. Europe accounts for a full third of the finalists. Read about them - and about all 15 finalist projects - on the Google Science Fair website.

What’s next for our young scientists? Well, next month, they’ll be California-bound to compete at Google HQ for the three Age Category Awards (ages 13-14, 15-16, 17-18) and of course, the overall Google Science Fair Grand Prize Award. The competition will end in style with an awards ceremony, which will be live streamed on the Science Fair YouTube channel and on our website. Tune in to be one of the first to find out this year’s winners!

But first, you get to have your say! We need you to pick your favorite project for the 2014 Voter’s Choice Award. Show your support for the finalists and cast a vote on the Google Science Fair website beginning September 1. Every year, we are blown away by the projects and ideas these young people come up with, and you will be too.

Seeking advice on the Right to be Forgotten

Earlier this summer we announced the formation of an Advisory Council on the Right to be Forgotten. As the Council begins its work, it is seeking comment from experts on the issues raised by the CJEU ruling. Experts will be considered for selection to present to the Council in-person during public consultations held this fall, in the following cities:
  • September 9 in Madrid, Spain
  • September 10 in Rome, Italy
  • September 25 in Paris, France
  • September 30 in Warsaw, Poland
  • October 14 in Berlin, Germany
  • October 16 in London, UK
  • November 4 in Brussels, Belgium
The Council welcomes position papers, research, and surveys in addition to other comments. We accept submissions in any official EU language. Though the Council will review comments on a rolling basis throughout the fall, it may not be possible to invite authors who submit after August 11 to present evidence at the public consultations.

Stay tuned for details on the Council’s activity.

Bletchley Park’s rebirth and why it matters

Twenty five years ago, Bletchley Park was facing demolition. Last month’s opening of the newly restored Block C by the Duchess of Cambridge — including the discovery that her grandmother Valerie Glassborow had worked as a duty officer and managed the interception of enemy signals for decryption at Bletchley — cements its reversal of fortune.
Photos copyright Shaun Armstrong

Now reborn as one of England’s most evocative museums, Bletchley Park is a fitting place of pilgrimage for both history and technology fans alike. The extraordinary code-breaking feats that took place in its spartan wooden huts were crucial to the Allied victory, and helped lay the foundations for the computer age. We were honoured to have been invited to create this new film for the visitors centre:

Bletchley Park is where Alan Turing’s theories were first put into practice, in the Bombe machines used to break Enigma, operated by women like 93 year old veteran and grandmother of one of our colleagues in Google London, Jean Valentine. It was also home to Colossus, the world’s first electronic programmable computer.

As important as what was achieved at Bletchley Park are the lessons we can learn from the way it was done.

Bletchley Park was a melting pot of brilliant minds set free by an atmosphere of tolerance. Societal norms were swept aside because of extreme need and circumstances. What mattered was what a person could do — not their gender, sexual orientation, religion, national origin or any supposed eccentricity. By removing these artificial constraints, Bletchley Park brought out the best in the fullest range of talent.

In this sense, Bletchley’s codebreaking success came not in spite of people’s differences, but because of them. It’s a compelling role model for the power of diversity that resonates still today.

Overall, at Bletchley Park thousands of talented people, more than half women, made heroic contributions that were kept secret until the 1970s. To borrow Keira Knightley’s line playing code breaker Joan Clarke in upcoming movie “The Imitation Game”: “Sometimes it’s the people who no one imagines anything of, who do the things no one can imagine.”

Google has long championed saving Bletchley Park together with Dr. Sue Black, Stephen Fry, Sir John Scarlett and many others. We’ve donated money, hosted events, created videos to help preserve and promote its story, including this . But nothing beats the experience of visiting this hallowed place in person — it’s just 45 minutes by train from London Euston — do go if you can. We promise you will be inspired by these technical heroes and early founders of our industry.

Commemorating World War I

A century ago, a Serb nationalist assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, sparking World War I. Today, we are launching a new channel dedicated to commemorate the war’s centenary. It brings together World War I content, paintings, photographs, letters, documents, soldiers’ poems and more, from a range of Museum partners, ranging from the German Federal Archives to the Belgian Mundaneum to the Imperial War Museum.

A search for Franz Ferdinand brings up photos relating to the Archeduke’s assassination. They show the Franz and his wife Sophie arriving in Sarajevo. Outfitted in regal dress, treated with the pomp and circumstance of royalty, they stroll through the streets. A final image shows police arresting Serb assassin Gavrilo Princip.

Other exhibits explore the art around the conflict and personal impact of the conflict. Belgium’s Mundaneum has collected postcards sent from POW camps. The Imperial War Museum’s features Christopher Nevinson's bleak landscapes. The British authorities censored some of the paintings for being too “negative.” At the same time, the museum also features John Nash’s patriotic paintings.

The German side of the war is well represented, with more than 200 new items in 13 new exhibits. Items include photographs, newspapers, letters, army documents, ration cards, and unusual items like the anti war poem written by a German soldier which lead to his detention. Exhibits range from German policy around the Sarajevo assassination to the rise of German airships to problems of nutrition due to the conflict.

The exhibits are designed for for a wide audience and full of exciting details for specialists. More content will be added over the coming months and years as commemorations around the Great War continue.

Commemorating D-Day’s 70th anniversary

On the 70th day of the momentous D-Day Normandy landings, our Cultural Institute is launching two initiatives to commemorate: a G+ Hangout on Air with veterans and five new online exhibitions.

The Hangout with D-Day veterans will allow anybody, anywhere to hear direct from veterans on their D-Day experiences. It takes place live from the Caen War Memorial at 6 p.m. Central Europe time. French television journalist Gilles Bouleau will host and Caen Memorial historian Christophe Prime will lend his expertise. American, French and British veterans will participate. High school students from both the U.S. and France will join the discussion.

At the same time, we’re publishing online Normandy landings exhibitions from the Caen War Memorial and other Cultural Institute partners, including the U.K’s Imperial War Museum and Bletchley Park code breakers center, the George C Marshall Research Foundation and the US National Archives. The exhibitions include exciting, previously unshown video footage of the landing, letters from soldiers and the original assault plan. All told, 470 new documents and images are included.

Take some time to browse - and reflect on the sacrifices made to secure Europe’s freedom.