The Stack Archive

Google’s founders discuss machine learning, driverless cars and how they work together

Mon 7 Jul 2014

A surprisingly funny and human interview with these two top tech geeks.  The most interesting parts are probably the bits on machine learning and driverless cars but the the interplay between the two is fascinating.

The interviewer, Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist, starts off asking about the story of how in 1997 Google almost got acquired by Excite:  “But no one was really interested in what we were doing.”

At 5mins 30sec: How do businesses avoid failure – what is Google’s path? “Think long term and place a lot of bets and hope some will pay off.”

9:30 Which areas are crucial to Google? “Computers are still pretty bad – the amount of knowledge you get for the time spent is poor and we want to solve that. Most things we do make sense in that context.”

11:50 What role will machine learning or AI play going forward? “You should presume that some day, we will be able to make machines that can reason, think and do things better than we can.” “Most people like to work but they want to spend more time with their families so why not reduce the work week.”

20:00 Discussion of US tax system…..yawn

21:45 What change will self driving cars make to society? “Land use…30% of cities are occupied with parking and the roads themselves. These cars come and get you when you need them. They will be transformative in terms of efficiency of space and people’s time.”

25:00 How do you decide what to focus on? Don’t focus on adjacent things but look at things that are inter-related eg internet via high altitude balloons

28:30 Can you imagine Google becoming a health company? “Health is so heavily regulated it’s a painful business to be in.” “There are some possibilities around data mining.”

34:00 Have you two ever fundamentally disagreed on anything? “Where do I start…..” “No.” “If we are disgreeing it’s probably because it is not obvious what to do.”

35:20 What would you have done if you’d sold to Excite? “I don’t know if it would have been good for them – we probably wouldn’t have been as passionate or as productive.”

36:40 What’s your view on governments being limited to short term thinking by their terms in office? Government complexity increases over time with laws and regulations. In Google we are trying to decrease it.”

39:40 Would you found Google the same way if you could do it again? “Stable leadership over 20 years is better than not.”


AI Google health self-driving cars
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