January 15, 2021

Year 0 of the uncertain technological revolution of the next 20 years | Technology

Year 0 of the uncertain technological revolution of the next 20 years | Technology



There are hundreds of thousands of images of human retinas. The doctors knew that the blood vessels of the retinas can reflect a patient's health. But I do not eat. Artificial intelligence solves that: it is capable of read Thousands of images of retinas to look for patterns that are related to risk of infarction. Sooner After a picture of the retina may replace a blood test to see risks.

Or the thousands of photos that the satellites of the spaces make. What human being can digest half a million images to look for patterns that define orbits? None. For an algorithm it is a work time.

To Diane Greene, CEO of Google Cloud, this seems like the next great technological revolution. Artificial intelligence will solve, according to Greene, the climate change, the problems of excessive energy expenditure or will improve crops incredibly. There are companies that use drones to photograph crops and predict the harvest of the year. Greene literally fills his mouth -push the words- by speaking enthusiastically of each promise.

Greene is one of the pioneers of Silicon Valley, where she founded three companies (Google gave her $ 150 million for one, which Greene donated to NGOs.) Already as a mechanical engineer, she did post-graduate studies in computer science at Berkeley in the middle of the 80. She came from the oil industry, where a woman had few options to prosper. But California was something else: "There were a lot of women in my class in Berkeley, we were 30%, it was something new, everybody invented and nobody realized if you were a woman or a man, we just did that new thing together." , Explain.

"When there is more money, men push women out"

His enthusiasm for technology is so sincere that he has trouble understanding that now his industry has changed: "There are many celebrities, status, money and there are people who do things for that instead of wanting to build something." One day Greene agreed on an airplane with Gloria Steinem, leader of the feminist movement in the 70s. She told her that she felt discrimination in Silicon Valley, something she had never seen before. Steinem had it clear, explains Greene: "It's very obvious, he told me, when a profession is new and then grows, its status goes up and there's more money, then men push women out."

Greene speaks with EL PAÍS at the Next fair, organized by Google Cloud. In one of the main conferences, Rajen Sheth, in charge of the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning product line, used a 1994 image of Mosaic, the first browser. The internet was born for the general public. Now, 30 years later, we are in a new Mosaic moment, according to Sheth: 2018 is the year zero of the great innovation of the next 20 years. But nobody has the same naivety. Technology has been an immensely positive force, but not only.

The keys of the Ferrari

Google Cloud is Google's subsidiary for the cloud. Its main task is to sell to companies its sophisticated technological services, including artificial intelligence. "Cloud democratizes everything Google has," says Greene. "Any company of any size can take advantage of these tools and create their models." This is to take the keys of the artificial intelligence Ferrari and give them to 16-year-old kids to learn to drive.

It has its risks. The main one is the data that is chosen to create models: "There are many cases where if we implement artificial intelligence in one way we will have an incredible amount of bias, but in another it can be tremendously beneficial," says Sheth. All companies that use these democratized tools will not have a specialist by their side. Amazon, for example, used a program in 2015 to help them sign engineers. The résumés they used to see which engineers they preferred were, as it seems logical, the engineers who were already on staff. What problem was there? That most were men. The algorithm penalized women.

"What a weird newspaper that sends two journalists to interview me," Greene said.

Greene defends himself: "It's a new technology that people do not quite understand, people will write books about all this." About his mistakes. For Greene, it is a minor evil: "All these things must be taken into account, but it is not a reason to stop progress," he says.

At Google, however, its employees have taken it into account. In the summer they wrote some artificial intelligence principles, where they affirm that they will not work with weapons. The company has not renewed the Maven project and has not bid for the Jedi project, two major contracts with the Pentagon. If Google does not do it, others will do it? Greene responds silently and opening his arms. I mean, yes. Greene explains to his engineers: "The AI ​​community itself is the one that asks the most questions, because they are the ones that understand it best, for example, there is an article explaining that they designed a pair of glasses for a woman in a reconnaissance experiment. But the camera thought that anybody with those glasses was that woman, even if she had a beard, they deceived the algorithm. " That, according to Greene, will not happen in the real world.

The finance sector is another example. A model can define who has more options to repay a loan. That can systematically remove a group of citizens: "It can have legal consequences," says Sheth. Greene explains it in a different way: "If you do not know how to explain the model, you better not use it, because there will be biases, you can do it, but you have to teach the risks to people," he says. And he adds: "But people already incur bias without AI when giving loans", although they are biases that are not systematized or that can vary if the employee who decides decides.

The interview with Greene was the first with a Spanish media. But not only. It was also the first time in three years that Greene had greeted Google Cloud Spain boss Isaac Hernandez. When Hernandez accompanied the EL PAÍS journalist, Greene greeted and took both of them as reporters. When the confusion was unraveled, Greene admitted to thinking: "What a strange newspaper that sends two journalists to interview me." It is an example of the incredible growth rate of this "giant start-up", according to Greene.

Google Cloud is the third major player in reaching the cloud sector. Amazon and Microsoft take advantage of it. Greene chases him out of context where he would have admitted that Google was going to be the first company by quota in the cloud in 2020. "I said it was possible," he says. And he maintains it: "It's a huge market, now we're at 10% of the global market."

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