5 Things That May Surprise You About Google

We all know that Google has a massive stake in the future

of global technology.  We all know that many of the best and brightest minds in the world seek employment at Google.  Due to the enormous volume of advertising revenue driven by their primary product, a search engine, we all know that Google has really deep pockets. Amidst all of the recent headlines related to the tech giant, however, are a few interesting facts that took me by surprise.  Here are 5 facts that give those headlines a slightly different perspective.

1. Their self-driving cars are not being tested on some far off, closed course.  They’re being tested on public roads.G-Car-1

In fact if you live in one of four US states that have already made legal the operation of autonomous vehicles, you may be driving among them already.  In case you were wondering the four states that have self-driving cars on their roads are  Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan.

2.  In 2013 Google acquired 8 Robotics Firms.

Including one that has existing Military contracts.  The largest of the firms, Boston Robotics, has developed, among many other things, a robot capable of running faster than a cheetah.

3.  The man that co-founded Android, Andy Rubin, has been hired to run Google’s robotics division.andy-rubin

Those robotics acquisitions will be at the disposal of a guy that helped to create the modern age of mobile tech.  When Android was born in 2003, Rubin was quoted as saying the intention of the start-up was to create,  “smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owner’s location and preferences”.  Fast forward to 2014 where GoogleNow resides on millions of handsets, and I would say mission accomplished.  And now he’s tinkering with robots…interesting.

4.  Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs secures a whole lot more than some thermostats and smoke detectors.Tony-Fadell-iPod-Nest-kalemm.com_

If innovation is credited with the ascent of the world’s most profitable company (Apple, Inc), then Nest co-founder Tony Fadell should definitely be in the conversation.  In 2001 Fadell created a concept and initial design for a little gadget that most would agree sparked a decade of profitability for Apple, which was on the verge of bankruptcy 4 years prior.  In all fairness, credit Steve Jobs with saving Apple from certain death in 1997 with the controversial Microsoft Deal he inked just a few months after returning to the company he founded.  In 2001 however, a contractor at the time, Tony Fadell handed Jobs and Apple the first iPod.  That’s right…the Nest guy invented the iPod!   In January of this year Fadell and his  “sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-enabled, self-learning, programmable” smoke detectors became a part of the Google family.  But again, it’s probably not the smoke detectors as much as the technology that was worth over $3 billion to Sergey and Larry.  Not to mention the brilliant design of the former Apple executive.

5.  The British artificial intelligence start-up, DeepMind, that Google bought in January isn’t just another tech company.deepmind

Founded by a former chess prodigy and current neuroscientist, Demis Hassabis, DeepMind clearly has some very valuable intellectual property.  The firm is made up of over 50 exceptionally talented employees who had their pick of employers like Facebook, Google, and Baidu.  If you visit their website, what you’ll find is essentially just a landing page, but it makes reference to two main concepts:  Machine Learning and Systems Neuroscience.  According to Wikipedia “systems neuroscience includes how neural circuits are formed and used anatomically and physiologically to produce functions such as reflexes, multisensory integration, motor coordinationcircadianrhythmsemotional responseslearning, and memory“.  Both Google and Facebook had been in negotiations to buy DeepMind.  Some suggest Google was able to make the deal because they have established an ethics board meant to ensure that DeepMind’s Technology won’t be abused.  My question is, what kind of tech must they have that an ethics board would be deemed necessary?  We shall see.

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