ESTIMATED 2017 REVENUE
EARLY INTEREST IN AI
The company acknowledged
in 1999 that it was using AI
to improve its flagship Search
Make machines intelligent,
improve people’s lives.
“Technology is now on the cusp
of taking us into a magical age,”
Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt
wrote in January, “in which machine
learning can prevent blindness,
translate any language with expert
skill, or even save endangered species from extinction.”
DeepMind ($500 million, 2014).
The company is best known for
its software defeating the world’s
best Go player, but its focus is
advancing what’s possible in
AI and applying it to Google products from health to shopping.
Alphabet-owned You Tube turned
to Google Brain (another of the
company’s R&D arms) to tune
its video recommendations and has
increased average watch time by
50% each of the past three years.
WHY IT IS AHEAD
No company has more data or
more machine-learning resources,
which are being put to work in services that billions use every day.
advanced form, as deep learning. AI is how Google Photos knows that two snapshots taken
50 years apart are both of your great-uncle. It’s how Facebook weeds spam out of your feed.
It’s even how the iPhone ekes as much life as possible out of a battery charge.
Increasingly, smartphones, smart-home gizmos, and other devices are morphing into front
ends for AI-infused services, such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant. “If
you unpack what’s behind Alexa, behind the Echo, it’s not just a speaker,” says Swami Sivasub-As AI begins to touch every aspect of their businesses, the tech giants are jousting to
recruit superstars in the field, pilfering brainpower from academia (New York University’s
Yann LeCun is now at Facebook) and each other (Jia Li left Snapchat to co-run Google Cloud’s
machine-learning group). “Because the technology is so powerful, there’s a large demand for
talent that understands how to apply it,” says Scott Penberthy, director of applied AI for Google
Cloud. Research firm Paysa released a study in April that showed Amazon investing $228
million in new AI positions, followed by Google ($130 million) and Microsoft ($75 million).