Google Cloud launches toolkit to make AI easier for businesses to use

17 Jan 2018

Google Cloud Console app on mobile. Image: Dennizn/Shutterstock

Google Cloud wants to bring AI to the masses.

Deploying artificial intelligence (AI) in business applications can seem like a daunting task if you aren’t a seasoned developer, but demand is booming for its efficiency-boosting properties.

Google Cloud looks set to bring AI to organisations that otherwise wouldn’t be able to access or afford the expertise needed to foster innovation.

Head of research and development at Google Cloud Jia Li and chief scientist Fei Fei Li wrote a joint statement announcing a new offering from the company, which aims to democratise AI.

This is just another step in Google Cloud’s AI strategy.

2017 saw the release of the Google Cloud Machine Learning (ML) Engine to help developers with ML expertise in creating models that work on data, and the Google Cloud is aiming to make its AI capabilities become one of its platform’s major selling points.

Cloud AutoML – simplified machine learning

Now Google Cloud wants to take things a step further with a new offering called Cloud AutoML.

Both Lis explained how Cloud AutoML will help more organisations reap the benefits of AI: “Currently, only a handful of businesses in the world have access to the talent and budgets needed to fully appreciate the advancements of ML and AI.

“There’s a very limited number of people that can create advanced machine learning models. And if you’re one of the companies that has access to ML/AI engineers, you still have to manage the time-intensive and complicated process of building your own custom ML model.”

Leveraging AI expertise

Google Cloud AutoML looks set to be a major component in Google Cloud’s strategy to share its decades of AI research with other companies to make apps and website smarter and more efficient.

The Lis added: “We believe Cloud AutoML will make AI experts even more productive, advance new fields in AI and help less-skilled engineers build powerful AI systems they previously only dreamed of.”

Customers will own their data and the proprietary models under Google Cloud’s privacy policy, according to product management director at Google Cloud Rajen Sheth, with Jia Li adding that the product “gives a lot of autonomy” back to customers.

Developers will pay proportionally based on how often their products make use of Google Cloud’s API, and the first tool to be accessed is called Cloud AutoML Vision.

Users can upload groups of images and Google’s software will tag images and train ML models based on their own content.

Urban Outfitters and Disney are among companies that have begun using the technology to help customers find more relevant and accurate search results, but companies will have to take some steps themselves to prepare their own data.

Jia Li said: “In order to create a model for your own purposes, you will still need multiple steps such as model prep, tuning and evaluation as well as iteration.”

Google Cloud Console app on mobile. Image: Dennizn/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects