Algorithmia Blog

Machine Learning Ninjas, Autonomous Cars, Computer Vision, Delivery Drones, and More

Issue 15
This week we learn about the
machine learning ninjas at Google, check in with a company retrofitting old cars with new tech, discover Apple’s computer vision capabilities, and anxiously wait for delivery drones taking flight. Plus, what we’re reading and a few things for you to try at home. 

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Google’s Machine Learning Ninjas 👀

You Might Have Heard: Google is remaking itself as a machine learning company by teaching its employees to use the latest learning algorithms.

The Machine Learning Ninja Program — no joke – embeds select Googlers with their machine learning team for six months where they work on ML projects, like Smart Reply in Gmail, and RankBrain.

In an earnings call late last year, CEO Sundar Pichai laid out Google’s new vision: “Machine learning is a core, transformative way by which we’re rethinking how we’re doing everything. We are thoughtfully applying it across all our products, be it search, ads, YouTube, or Play. And we’re in early days, but you will see us — in a systematic way — apply machine learning in all these areas.”

If Google’s going to build machine learning into all its products, it needs engineers who have mastery of those techniques.

But Did You Know: Google’s RankBrain machine learning system is now used to process every search query, and is now considered the third most important ranking factor?

PLUS: Benedict Evans weighs in on the state of AI, Apple and Google

A Billion Cars Going Autonomous 🚗 🚕 🚙

While mums the word on Apple’s car plans, Pearl Automation has big plans to transform millions of today’s cars into the self-driving vehicles of tomorrow.

Armed with 50 former Apple employees, the team has plans for a slew of devices that can upgrade your car by augmenting it with the latest driving capabilities.

Their first product? A rear-view camera.

While their entry into the auto accessory aftermarket is sort of an anticlimactic entry to the market, the Verge writes. “The differentiator is the attention to quality and detail that Apple is known for. This craftsmanship shines through in Pearl’s offering, as well.”

PLUS: Behind the race in Silicon Valley and Detroit to build a self-driving car

Apple’s Advanced Computer Vision 📸

You might remember that Apple added facial and object recognition to the Photos app for iPhone and iPad to bundle photos according to events and places.

Well, a developer has already uncovered that the new Photos app can distinguish 7 facial expressions, generate 33 Moments categories, and detect 4,432 searchable objects.

So, what’s so great about this?

Unlike Google Photos, Apple has made sure that Photos only uses machine learning to analyze the photos that are stored locally on your iPhone, eliminating the need to upload your photos to Apple’s servers for processing.

Drones Taking Flight ✈️

The FAA unveiled new rules last week to allow for commercial operation of low-altitude drones weighing less than 55 pounds.

As long as you can pass the skill test, you can operate a drone legally.

However, drones cannot be flown at night, and must always remain within eyeshot of the pilot, making it unlikely that autonomous drone delivery will be flying anytime soon.

The FAA says the rules could “could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy and create more than 100,000 new jobs over the next 10 years.”

What We’re Reading 📚

Try This At Home 🛠

Emergent Future is a weekly, hand-curated dispatch exploring technology through the lens of artificial intelligence, data science, and the shape of things to come. Subscribe here.