That wasn’t Google I/O — it was Google AI

Three years in the past, the corporate pressured out Timnit Gebru, the co-lead of its moral AI group, primarily over a paper that raised considerations concerning the risks of huge language fashions. Gebru’s considerations have since develop into mainstream. Her departure, and the fallout from it, marked a turning level within the dialog concerning the risks of unchecked AI. One would hope Google realized from it; from her. 

After which, simply final week, Geoffrey Hinton introduced he was stepping down from Google, largely so he’d be free to sound the alarm bell concerning the dire penalties of speedy developments in AI that he fears might quickly allow it to surpass human intelligence. (Or, as Hinton put it, it’s “fairly conceivable that humanity is only a passing part within the evolution of intelligence.”) 

And so, I/O yesterday was a far cry from the occasion in 2018, when the corporate gleefully demonstrated Duplex, showcasing how Google Assistant might make automated calls to small companies with out ever letting the individuals on these calls know they have been interacting with an AI. It was an unimaginable demo. And one which made very many individuals deeply uneasy.

Repeatedly at this 12 months’s I/O, we heard about duty. James Manyika, who leads the corporate’s expertise and society program, opened by speaking concerning the wonders AI has wrought, significantly round protein folding, however was fast to transition to the methods the corporate is considering misinformation, noting how it could watermark generated pictures and alluding to guardrails to stop their misuse. 

There was a demo of how Google can deploy picture provenance to counter misinformation, debunking a picture search successfully by displaying the primary time it (within the instance on stage, a faux photograph purporting to indicate that the moon touchdown was a hoax) was listed. It was a bit of little bit of grounding amidst all of the awe and marvel, working at scale. 

After which … on to the telephones. The brand new Google Pixel Fold scored the largest applause line of the day. Folks like devices.

The telephone might fold, however for me it was among the many least mind-bending issues I noticed all day. And in my head, I saved returning to one of many earliest examples we noticed: a photograph of a girl standing in entrance of some hills and a waterfall. 

Magic Editor erased her backpack strap. Cool! And it additionally made the cloudy sky look much more blue. Reinforcing this, in one other instance—this time with a toddler sitting on a bench holding balloons—Magic Editor as soon as once more made the day brighter after which adjusted all of the lighting within the pictures so the sunshine would look extra pure. Extra actual than actual.

How far will we wish to go right here? What’s the top aim we’re aiming for? In the end, will we simply skip the holiday altogether and generate some fairly, fairly footage? Can we supplant our recollections with sunnier, extra idealized variations of the previous? Are we making actuality higher? Is all the things extra stunning? Is all the things higher? Is that this all very, very cool? Or one thing else? One thing we haven’t realized but?