How Google is Remaking Itself as a "Machine Learning First" Company, by Steven Levy
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Machine Learning
Machine Learning is using learning algorithms (“learners”) and tons of data to “teach” software to accomplish its tasks.
For many years, machine learning was considered a specialty, limited to an elite few. That era is over, as recent results indicate that machine learning, powered by “neural nets” that emulate the way a biological brain operates, is the true path towards imbuing computers with the powers of humans, and in some cases, super humans. Google is committed to expanding that elite within its walls, with the hope of making it the norm.
Though machine learning has long been part of Google’s technology — and Google has been a leader in hiring experts in the field — the company circa 2016 is obsessed with it.
In an earnings call late last year, CEO Sundar Pichai laid out the corporate mindset: “Machine learning is a core, transformative way by which we’re rethinking how we’re doing everything. We are thoughtfully applying it across all our products, be it search, ads, YouTube, or Play. And we’re in early days, but you will see us — in a systematic way — apply machine learning in all these areas.”
Carson Holgate is training to become a ninja.
Not in the martial arts — she’s already done that. Holgate, 26, holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. This time it’s algorithmic. Holgate is several weeks into a program that will inculcate her in an even more powerful practice than physical combat: machine learning, or ML. A Google engineer in the Android division, Holgate is one of 18 programmers in this year’s Machine Learning Ninja Program, which pulls talented coders from their teams to participate, Ender’s Game-style, in a regimen that teaches them the artificial intelligence techniques that will make their products smarter. Even if it makes the software they create harder to understand.
“The tagline is, Do you want to be a machine learning ninja?” says Christine Robson, a product manager for Google’s internal machine learning efforts, who helps administer the program. “So we invite folks from around Google to come and spend six months embedded with the machine learning team, sitting right next to a mentor, working on machine learning for six months, doing some project, getting it launched and learning a lot.”