While AI has become a buzzword in the market today, Google has always known it would lead to big business.
AI will herald Google’s conquest of the tech world and beyond
If the history books are to describe Google with one word, it would be ‘ambitious.’ The company that started in a garage is on its way to world domination by way of tech, and its greatest enabler is an element that has factored in the company’s development throughout its lifespan: AI. It invested in the tech long before it became a market buzzword.
An empire built by AI
With Google currently investing in autonomous vehicles, semiconductors, healthcare and more, AI is the tool Google will use to one-up the competition. You upgrade AI by feeding it information and allowing it to undergo the process of ‘machine learning,’ and who today has more data than Google? Data on users and organizations; data in the form of images, videos, documents, audio files, and much more; and data on internet browsing trends and search engine behaviors. If there is a single company that will build The Terminator’s Skynet, it will be Google. It is, after all, investing in military applications as well.
Google valued AI since day one
Forever the ambitious company, Google had its sights on AI practically since day one.
“Google did two things well earlier on that are paying dividends today: It threw a ton of resources into the problem — both computing power and money — and it scooped up top researchers in the artificial intelligence field,” market intelligence firm CB Insights writes.
Today, Google invest in AI projects and businesses through its investment fund Gradient Ventures (GV), which it founded in 2017. Within GV, Google has “a secret research and development lab called ‘X’ that specializes in ‘moonshots’ or bets that can deliver astronomical returns,” RiskHedge CEO, Olivier Garret, writes for Forbes.
When you’re as rich as Google, you can assimilate each and every AI startup or company that can further your influence in the field. Google has always known AI will be big business, and proceeds with this mentality to this day.
“Across the company, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are increasingly driving many of our latest innovations, from YouTube recommendations to driverless cars to healthcare diagnostics,” Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) 10K filing noted in 2018.
“Don’t Be Evil”
As the $800+ billion company grows, with its hands reaching across all realms of the tech world and beyond, Google will have to address the growing concerns any near-omniscient company will have be suspected of.
Just like its pseudo rival Facebook, the company has come under fire many times over following user data concerns.
Last year, its CEO Sundar Pichai appeared before US Congress at a hearing titled “Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use, and Filtering Practices.” Like Facebook and so many other tech giants, the power these companies hold through the massive data quantities they own is constantly turning regulator heads (and not in the good way). As its AI prowess and influence grows, Google will have to face these questions head on, and much more often.
When Google was first founded, its unofficial motto had always been “Don’t be evil.” It was long circulated among Google’s multiple offices, a moral compass driving its employees amidst growing power and influence.
Today, this is no longer the case. According to news reports, Google removed the 'Don't be evil' clause from its Code of Conduct som time between early-mid 2018.
Here’s the relevant section of the old code of conduct, as archived by the Wayback Machine on April 21, 2018, and reported by Gizmodo: “The Google Code of Conduct is one of the ways we put “Don’t be evil” into practice. It’s built around the recognition that everything we do in connection with our work at Google will be, and should be, measured against the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct.”
With Google removing such an iconic element of its identity, one has to hope it hasn't lost its way.