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Google’s ambitious plans to change every device on the planet

(BUSINESS NEWS) Google has been quietly, patiently waiting to launch their next big thing in technology and it has the potential to take over every device on the planet, if it catches on.

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Google on a whole nutha level

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai has plans to take Google to the next level. In an effort to stay ahead of the technology pack, running against Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and other competitors, Google is looking to the future to maintain their position.

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Pinchai sees the future of technology with endless possibilities, but for now they want to focus their development in one critical area: AI (Artificial Intelligence). While Forbes covered Pinchai’s career and plans to innovate Google’s vision even further, I feel it’s important to summarize their main points so we can get to the heart of the matter: the race of AI technology.

Why AI technology?

Miguel Helft at Forbes writes, “computing is already moving to multiple screens and in some instances-such as Amazon’s surprise hit Echo smart speaker- no screens. Interactions with devices and apps are quickly becoming two-way conversations, sometimes employing smart ‘bots’ promoted by Microsoft, Facebook, and others (remember we covered Yahoo’s launch of bots on Kik?).”

The desire to interact more with technology and less face-to-face with another human being is becoming glaringly obvious. The desire for advanced AI technology is already here; now, it’s merely a race to see who can launch the biggest, best, most engaging piece of AI technology quickest.

If others are already developing AI, what’s Google thinking?

Again, I turn to the Forbes article by Helft, “artificial intelligence has been in Google’s wheelhouse for years. [They] invested in fundamental building blocks such as voice recognition, language understading, and machine translation long before most of their rivals.”

And after years of preparation, Pichai says, the company is ready to bring all that work together in compelling products that will keep the company ahead of the competition.

Pinchai told Forbes, “we have this vision of a shift from mobile-first to an AI-first world over many years.”

At the annual Google I/O conference, Pinchai revealed the first prototype to fully use Google’s AI efforts: a smart speaker called Google Home. Sound familiar? This device seems to be a direct answer to Amazon’s Echo. Google Home isn’t the only product set to launch, however. They also plan to launch a messaging app called Allo. This is likely a direct response to WhatsApp, Kik, and other popular messaging platforms. Gmail is widely popular (with over 1 billion users), but what it lacks is a messenger to appeal to the younger crowed. Google may be hoping Allo is the answer for what this particular platform is lacking. Allo and Google Home will both be powered by  a “Google assistant” (a bit like Siri), but in their eyes, more engaging.

The Google assistant will offer users a way to interact with Google itself. You can play music, reply to messages, order flowers, ask Google to take notes for you and more. It will be there, in every aspect of your life, to help you get things done. Pinchai states, “You are trying to go about your day, and in an ambient way, things are there to help you.” Getting the assistant just right, however, is going to take a bit of time, and Amazon has already launched Echo; thus, Google’s energetic desire to press forward.

How does Google plan to push past Amazon and other competitors?

Four years ago, Google formed a break-away company appropriately called Google Brain to develop much of the intelligence that will push Google into the AI running. This team, according to Forbes, will conduct research and experiment with AI programming techniques like deep learning and neutral networks. Google had this technology is their arsenal before, but were unable to fully test it due to the massive amounts of computing power required. One of their recent improvements, Google Photos, was released about a year ago and used a bit of AI technology they’d been developing.

Google Photos has the ability to recognize and search images and then automatically organize them. The same method that worked for these photos, Google found, could be applied to voice recognition, translation, and other similar tasks. Also, this same technology used for Google Photos, is able to power StreetView’s ability to distinguish and “read” signs, as well as, Project Sunroof’s ability to identify rooftops using aerial photography to determine whether or not a roof can support solar panels. According to Forbes, “it’s also enabling a small experimental team to effectively detect diabetic retinopathy” by looking at retina scans.

Pinchai is convinced a few smart features like Photos along with the Chrome browser will help them gain a following; and with the launch of Allo (available late this summer), will help them gain an even greater following. Smart Reply will be integrated and automatically suggest three different prewritten answers to a message based on its content. According to Forbes, “Google developed Smart Reply in less than a year and first tested it in Inbox, a mobile e-mail app. It allows users on the go to select one of the answers and reply with a single tap.”  With Allo, Google took this one step further, “blending Smart Reply with image recognition, so it can suggest responses to photos via message.”  This will help users reply faster, spending less time typing an answer. In Allo, the Google assistant might also pop up in the middle of a conversation, depending on the subject matter, to help you book a restaurant, or plan a trip. Much like Siri does if you mention a time or date within your conversation.

The takeaway

Pinchai is conviced Google is further along than their competitors, citing AlphaGo. AlphaGo is a computer program that plays the board game Go. It’s the first computer Go program to beat a professional human player. The same algorithms used to create AlphaGo, could be developed further and applied to more practical problems according to Pinchai. He stated, “When you look at machine learning and AI, there are things you can do now, some in two to three years and some that are deeper and will take more time to do.”  Many technology enthusiasts, like Harvard professor Yoffie, believe Google is well-positioned to lead the transition to an AI-powered world if they continue to  make the same types of “good” decisions.

I think Google certainly has the research, assets, and  determination to get things done in terms of AI, but it seems like Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon, already have a head start on them as they’ve already launches their products. What do you think? Is Google poised to dominate the AI-world, or will someone else push ahead and get things done?

#googleAI

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Business News

How remote work has changed over the last decade

(BUSINESS NEWS) let’s reflect on how remote working and telecommuting has changed in recent years and look to how it will continue to change in the 2020s.

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As someone who often works remote, it’s interesting to see how much that means for work has evolved. The increase in commonality has been steady, and shows no signs of slowing down. Go Remotely has developed an insightful graphic showing the changes in trends regarding remote work over the years.

“For decades, the established economy dictated that you should pick one job, visit the same office for the next 40 years, and then retire,” reads the graphic’s intro. “However, recent remote working stats suggest the working world might be in for some revolutionary changes.”

From there, the graphic is broken down into five facets: Flexible Workspace Policy, Entrepreneurial Minds, Telecommuting is a Growing Trend, The Role of Companies in the Remote Working World, and The Future of Telecommuting.

With Flexible Workspace Policy, its suggested that telecommuting could be a solution for costly issues including lack of productivity caused by employee distractions, health problems, etc. It is said that employers lose $1.8 trillion annually due to these issues.

The end of 2018 found 35 percent of the US workforce working remotely. This is only expected to climb. Ten percent of employees don’t know if their company offers flexible work policies (this is something to check into!)

Bills and laws for virtual jobs passed by governments reflect the need for accessibility, economic stability, and emigration concerns. Companies with flexible work policies have reported seeing increases in productivity and profits. (Funny those both start with pro, no?)

With Entrepreneurial Minds, a few interesting things found include: remote workers are less likely to take off if they are sick, the majority reports better productivity when working alone, the majority reported lower stress levels. However, there is a problem with not being able to unplug after work which is an issue for some.

Telecommuting is a Growing Trend finds that there has been a seven percent increase between 2012 and 2016, with the majority (80-100 percent) reporting they work remotely. Industries seen embracing remote work include: transportation, computer/information systems/mathematical, arts/design/entertainment/sports/media, finance/insurance/real estate, law or public policy, community/social services, science/engineering/architecture, manufacturing or construction, healthcare, education/training/library, and retail.

The Role of Companies in the Remote Working World finds that the pros to hiring remote workers includes: finding talent outside of your geographic area, improves retention on work/life balance, increases productivity by decreasing commute time, and saves money by requiring less office space. The cons include lack of timeliness when it comes to receiving information from employers.

Finally, the Future of Telecommuting suggests that in 2020 the US mobile worker population will surpass 105 million (and will account for 72 percent of the US workforce). Hiring managers predict that telecommuting will increase tremendously, most skills will become even more niche over the next decade, and many think that 38 percent of their full-time workers will be working remotely in the next decade.

How do you feel about the increase in remote working and telecommuting?

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Business News

ClickUp team productivity app is gorgeous and wildly efficient

(BUSINESS NEWS) Seeking to improve your productivity and speed up your team, ClickUp is an inexpensive option for those obsessed with efficiency.

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Back again to obsess over productivity apps – ClickUp, is a project management tool seeking to knock the frustration out of PM. It’s getting some good reviews, so I gave it a try for a week by setting up my current job search as a project and getting a feel for the app. And as you’ve read in my other reviews, we will address features and design.

On the feature front, ClickUp offers a pretty standard set up of tools for a productivity app. What stands out first and foremost are the status options. In general, most productivity statuses are simple: not started, started, in progress, done, etc.

But ClickUp lets you set up custom statuses that match your workflow.

For example, if you’re doing instructional design projects, you may assign projects based on where they are flowing in an ADDIE model, or if you are a Realtor, you may have things cataloged by sold, in negotiation, etc.

Customization is king and custom status is the closest you get to building your own app. And if you like it simple, you don’t have to customize it. The assigned comments feature lets you follow up on specific comments that originate action items – which is useful in team collaborations.

You can also assign changes to multiple tasks at once, including changing statuses (I would bulk assign completion tasks when I finished applications that I did in batches). There a lot of features here, but the best feature is how the app allows you to toggle on and off features that you will or won’t use – once again, customization is front and center for this platform.

In terms of design and intuive use, ClickUp nailed it.

It’s super easy to use, and the concept of space is pretty standard in design thinking. If your organization uses Agile methodology, this app is ready for you.

In terms of view, you can declutter the features, but the three viewing modes (list, box, and board) can help you filter the information and make decisions quickly depending on what role you have on a board or project. There is also a “Me” board that removes all the clutter and focuses on your tasks – a great way to do focused productivity bursts. ClickUp describes itself as beautifully intuitive, and I can’t disagree – both the web app and mobile app are insanely easy to use.

No complaints here.

And the horizon looks good for ClickUp – with new features like image markup, Gannt charts (!!!!!! #nerdalert), and threaded comments for starts.

This application is great, and it’s got a lot of growth coming up to an already rich feature base. It’s free with 100MB of storage, but the $5 fee for team member per month that includes team onboarding and set up (say you’re switching from another platform) and Dropbox/Google Docs integration? That’s a bargain, Charlie.

ClickUp is on the way up and it’s got it all – features, a beautifully accessible UI, relentless customization, and lot of new and upcoming features. If you’re into the productivity platform and you’re looking for a new solution for your team, go check it out.

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Business News

Should you alter your business travel due to the Coronavirus?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Got a business trip coming up? Worried about the coronavirus spoiling those plans? Stay up to date and safe with this cool site!

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travel coronavirus

The Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at John Hopkins University has created a website that tracks one of the biggest trends of 2020: the coronavirus. Also known as 2019-nCoV, this disease has already spread to over 40,000 confirmed cases worldwide, with over 900 deaths (as of when this article was published, anyway.)

Not to mention, the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that we still don’t know exactly how the virus spreads from person-to-person. In fact, there’s quite a bit we don’t know about this disease and although some people are reported as recovered, it’s only a small fraction compared to how many are sick.

So, what’s so great about this tracker? Well, first of all, it updates in real time, making it easy to keep track of everything we know about confirmed cases of the coronavirus. It’s chock full of statistics and visuals, making the information easy to digest. Plus, with a map front and center, it lets you know exactly where there have been reported outbreaks – and how many people have been diagnosed.

Because the site sticks to cold hard facts like statistics and maps, it also means you can avoid the racism and general panic that’s accompanied news of this outbreak.

This is a great tool for staying informed, but it’s also extremely helpful if you’re going to be traveling for work. As the virus continues to progress, you’ll be able to see just how many cases of coronavirus there are in the areas you’re planning to visit, which will allow you to plan accordingly. Even if you don’t feel the effects, you can still risk passing it to other people.

(In fact, the CDC recommends those traveling from certain areas in China practice “social distancing” when they return to the US, avoiding public spaces like grocery stores, malls and movie theaters.)

Of course, if you have something planned several months from now, don’t cancel your conference plans just yet. A lot can happen in that amount of time, so avoid the urge to check the website every couple hours. It’s supposed to be a tool for staying informed, not staying stressed out.

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