Google announces tools to 'democratize' machine learning

The company rolled out Cloud Machine Learning in beta, as well as G Suite, a series of productivity apps powered by machine intelligence.

Google on Thursday announced a series of enterprise tools powered by machine learning.

"Our goal is to democratize machine learning," said Urs Hölzle, senior vice president of technical infrastructure for cloud, at a San Francisco, Calif., event Thursday. He announced the introduction of Cloud Machine Learning in beta.

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It is a NoOps machine learning solution, making it easy for businesses to run and train machine learning models. It's integrated with data analytics and storage cloud services including Google BigQuery and Cloud Dataflow. To convince customers of the benefits, Google is also offering dedicated machine learning educational and certification programs.

Hölzle also announced Google BigQuery is now available for enterprise, now giving customers the ability to update tables. "That turns it from an analytics solution into a full data warehouse," he said. It now supports Standard SQL, comes with identity and access management features, and heavy users can get flat pricing.

Moving onto productivity tools, Prabhakar Raghavan, vice president of Google Apps, announced G Suite, "a suite of applications designed to enable workers to collaborate in the cloud with the power of Google's machine intelligence".

Raghavan first introduced the new tools for individuals, citing a McKinsey report, which estimated that the average employee only has the equivalent of two productive days in a week. The rest of the time, "they're searching for information, they're scheduling meetings, they're triaging email," Raghavan said. "That's where we think the power of machine intelligence we can make things dramatically better."

With Quick Access for Drive, Google learns from a user's activity patterns to predictively serve up the file he's about to search for. "I've been using this feature for a few weeks now, and a lot of the time we get it right," Raghavan said. "As the system learns, it gets better and better."

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Raghavan also introduced Explore in Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Explore in Docs makes suggestions for topics for a user to learn about and images to insert in Docs. Explore in Sheets allows a user to run natural language searches in Sheets. Explore in Slides generates design suggestions based on the content of a slide.

Additionally, the G Suite includes a "find a time" feature in Google Calendar that automatically looks at the schedules of people organizing a meeting and finds the best time for them to meet. As the system learns, it will also be able to suggest rooms for the meeting.

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