Time Travel To 1984 With Google Earth

Google Earth recently added a fourth dimension to its 3D mapping tool- a time-lapse of millions of photos stiched together that showus how the world changed in the past 37 years. Let's dive deeper into this.

Google Earth recently added a fourth dimension to its 3D mapping tool – a time-lapse of millions of photos stitched together that show us how the world changed in the past 37 years. Let’s dive deeper into this.

Crux of the Matter

Earth As We Know It, From 1984-2021
Google has crunched 24 million satellite images from the past 37 years to form the 4D video. It tells us how human habits have affected the earth and its climate.

So Is It Really Interactive?
Yes, You can zoom in and out, change angles to get a better view of the changing forests and urban expansion. The satellite imagery is rquivalent to 530,000 videos in 4K resolution. Google also added that the computing was done inside its “carbon-neutral, 100% renewable energy-matched data centers.

As far as we know, Timelapse in Google Earth is the largest video on the planet, of our planet.

Says Google

Who Made Google Earth?
The tech was originally developed by Intrinsic Graphics that built visual databases. In 2004, Google purchased Keyhole Inc., which became Niantic, the Google subsidiary that made for “Pokemon Go.”

2D To 3D Via Minimaps
Mipmaps are collections of bitmap images that create the illusion of depth. They work in an inverted pyramid structure, stacked on each other with each level having twice the resolution of the one under it.

Google Earth is used by explorers for a virtual travel experience. While Google Maps helps in point to point navigation for real life commuting.

How Does Maps Make Money?
Google Maps Platform earns from selling Google Maps API to companies that require navigation. Eg: To Uber for drivers and customers to track each other’s movements.

Curiopedia
  • John Hanke is the founder and current CEO of Niantic, Inc. Hanke previously led Google’s Geo Product division, which includes Google Earth, Google Maps, StreetView, SketchUp, and Panoramio.
  • Google Earth has been viewed by some as a threat to privacy and national security, leading to the program being banned in multiple countries. Some countries have requested that certain areas be obscured in Google’s satellite images, usually areas containing military facilities.
  • Former President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam expressed concern over the availability of high-resolution pictures of sensitive locations in India. Google subsequently agreed to censor such sites.

Hey Siri, How Do You Work?

Hey Siri, How Do You Work?

Microsoft Corp recently officially stated its plans of buying Nuance communications for $19.7 bn, its second largest acquisition after LinkedIn – worth $26.2 billion – in 2016 . Since Nuance is known to be behind Siri, Apple’s speech recognition AI software, let’s know more about how virtual personal assistants work.

Crux of the Matter

It All Starts With A Signal Word
‘Hey Siri’, ‘OK Google’ and ‘Alexa’ are signal words that wake up our Apple, Google and Amazon devices respectively. After the voice assistant on mobile hears this word, it starts recording. 

‘Alexa, Who Is The Best Assistant?’

  • The device waits for a pause after you finish speaking your question
  • This recorded request is sent to the assistant’s database and compared to other requests. 
  • The question is split into separate commands that the assistant can understand. 
  • Once it receives the commands, the assistant replies back or asks a follow up question for more clarity.

‘OK Google, Tell Me More’
The whole process is based on Automatic Speech Recognition system, which breaks down our speech into phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another word.

‘Alexa, What Is NLP?’
Natural Language Processing is a branch of AI that deals with the overall interaction between computers and humans. Eg: IVR apps used in call centers to respond to certain users’ requests and Google Translate apps utilise NLP.

Step 1: Speech To Text
Software like Apple diction and Google Docs voice typing adjusts for ambient noise and variation in voice. This provides accurate translation in multiple languages

Step 2: Text To Intent
When you ask “tell me about India”, what is your real intent? Are you asking for latest news about India, or flight options to India, or current weather in India? Softwares like IBM’s DeepQA help here.

Step 3: Intent To action
To fulfil the user’s need, voice assistants get integrated in cars, refrigerators, ACs, light bulbs and door locks to create unified connectivity for smart homes.

Easter Eggs For You To Ask

  • “Hey Google, Self-Destruct”
  • “OK Google, Do You Have an Imagination?”
  • “OK Google, What Do You Think of Alexa?”
  • Hey Siri, When will the world end?
  • Hey Siri, are you married?

Curiopedia
  • Alexa and Siri married each other in April, 2019. The wedding was organized by the Vienna Tourist Board to promote the city’s EuroPride event the following month. 
  • Rohit Prasad, an engineer from Ranchi, Jharkhand is the person who breathed life into Alexa, and led the technology side of the project almost from its inception. He is currently the VP and head scientist at Alexa AI, Amazon. 
  • In the 2017 movie ‘The Lego Batman Movie’; Siri voiced Puter, the artificial intelligence controlling both the Batcave and Batman’s gadgets and vehicles. 

How Do Cookies Work?

How Do Cookies Work?

Like to eat cookies? Well, we are talking about the online ones here! Privacy activists for years have criticised tech companies, for using cookies to gather web browsing records across websites they don’t own. Recently Google made it official, that it would no longer use third party cookies. Let’s understand more about it.

Crux of the Matter

Google: “No Third Party Cookies”
Google says it won’t build or use alternate tools for tracking web browsing after it begins phasing out cookies from its Chrome browser next year. Though it will continue to test ways for businesses to target ads to large groups of anonymous users with common interests.

What Is A Cookie?
It is a small bit of information that a website stores on our computer. When we revisit the website, the browser remembers this info and sends it back to the site.

Can You Give An Example?
An online bookstore might use a cookie to record the authors and titles of books you have ordered. When you return back to the site, it will show you a list of books by the same authors, or on related topics.

Types Of Cookies

Session Or Non-Persistent Cookie
It only lasts as long as your session on the website. It expires when you leave the site. Eg: adding items to cart on an e-commerce site without login.

Persistent Cookie
It ‘persists’ beyond the life of your session. It is created to recognize a user when they return to
the website. Eg: remembering name and password for login.

When Can Cookies Be Harmful?
Even though they can’t directly infect computers with malware, many cyber-attacks hijack cookies and use them to enable access to your browsing sessions.

What About A Zombie Cookie?
It is an HTTP cookie that returns to life automatically after being deleted by the user. Like a third party cookie, it is used to track the online activity of the user and use it for marketing purposes.

What Is The Difference Between Cache And Cookies?

Cache

  • A temporary memory storage area used to store frequently visited websites for easy access for the user.
  • Types: Browser and User cache.
  • Cleared manually.
  • Doesn’t send response with requests.

Cookies

  • Data generated by the webserver to store user preferences on a site.
  • Types: Persistent and non-persistent.
  • Cleared automatically.
  • Sends response with requests.

Curiopedia
  • A computer programmer named Lou Montulli coined the term “cookie” which was taken from the term “magic cookie”. Magic cookies are small packets of data exchanged between communicating programs.
  • In 1990, while working for CERN, Tim Burners Lee created WorldWideWeb, the first-ever web browser.
  • Noted English Poet Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace is considered to be the World’s first computer programmer for creating an algorithm meant to be executed by a machine.

Google V/S Timnit 2: Why Did Google Fire Timnit Gebru?

Google V/S Timnit 2: Why Did Google Fire Timnit Gebru?

A series of leaked emails, tweets, and online articles have shown that Timnit Gebru’s ‘exit’ from Google was the result of a conflict over a research paper. With Google facing a severe backlash from its employees now, let’s see the chain of events and the tech giant’s defensive response to the incident.

In the previous piece we discussed at length the background of Timnit Gebru. Click here to read the fully story.

Crux of the Matter

What Went Wrong?
Timnit says she was fired this week after sending an email to Google Brain Women and Allies, an internal resource group at the company.

Gebru had been working on a research paper but ran into resistance from her superiors. Thereafter she expressed her frustration in that email which Google found “inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.”

Who Dismissed Her?
Megan Kacholia, VP of engineering at Google Research, who reports to the company’s renowned A.I. lead, Jeff Dean fired Gebru. Basically, Gebru had been working on a research paper but ran into resistance with her superiors. Thereafter she expressed her frustration in that email which miffed Google.

But What Did Her Email Say?
It detailed the struggles Gebru experienced working on ethics research within Google and the future of minorities as employees there.

Then What Did The Paper Say?
The paper titled “On the Dangers of Stochastic Parrots: Can Language Models Be Too Big?”, had stated the risks linked to large language models. This fits with Timnit’s role at both Google and Black in AI: to improve the ability of AI tech to do social good.

Risks Outlined In Timnit’s Paper

  • Environmental costs like common carbon footprint benchmarks.
  • Estimated financial costs like training a model.
  • Research opportunity costs.
  • Massive amount of text which can contain racist, sexist, and other abusive references, used in the training data, can be hard to audit.

What Do Critics Say?
Many top leaders are supporting Gebru online, with 1,400+ Google staff and 1,900 other supporters already signing a letter of protest against her dismissal.

Déjà Vu Exit
Another famous A.I. ethicist, Meredith Whittaker, had publicly resigned from Google in 2018, after facing internal retaliation for helping organize employee walkouts consisting of 20,000 Googlers.

Curiopedia
  • The AI effect occurs when onlookers discount the behavior of an artificial intelligence program by arguing that it is not real intelligence. Author Pamela McCorduck writes: “It’s part of the history of the field of artificial intelligence that every time somebody figured out how to make a computer do something, there was a chorus of critics to say, ‘that’s not thinking’.”
  • Her is a 2013 American science-fiction romantic comedy film. The film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), an artificially intelligent virtual assistant personified through a female voice.
  • An eigenface is the name given to a set of eigenvectors when used in the computer vision problem of human face recognition. The approach of using eigenfaces for recognition was developed by Sirovich and Kirby (1987).

DOJ’s Concerns Over Google-Apple Collusion

DOJ's Concerns Over Google Apple Collusion

Google has been alleged with one of the biggest antitrust allegations so far by the Department Of Justice (DOJ), US. Let’s take a look into it and understand the collusion between Google and Apple.

Crux of the Matter

Google’s Bargain
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has claimed that Google has been paying $8 billion to $12 billion since 2017 to be the default search engine for iPhone and its services like Siri. The DOJ further alleged that Google and Apple work on the agreement as “one company”.

Mobile Safari is a web browser designed by Apple for iPhones. According to the 2014 court documents, Google paid $1 billion to secure the default position on the browser in the US. Due to the arrangement, the iPhone plays a major role in generating revenue for Google’s mobile advertisement business, which gives Google an edge over the competition.

Allegations Against Google
Regulators have shown concern over Google’s pay for US placement, as it was 50% higher than what was paid six years ago. This increment may be done to curb the competition. Other browsers like, Microsoft’s Bing and DuckDuckGo, may not be able to pay a similar amount for prime placement, which gives an unfair advantage to Google.

Google’s Response
The senior vice president of Global Affairs, Google, Kent Walker responded against the allegations and called the case deeply flawed.

Walker further argued that their agreement is similar to other traditional company agreements.

Read More: Can Apple Remove 450,000 Cars From Road From This Year?

Curiopedia
  • An oligopoly is a market form wherein a market or industry is dominated by a small group of large sellers. Many business and tech gurus believe that this group of major tech giants is an oligopoly, coming to dominate the online market through anti-competitive practices, ever-increasing financial power, and intellectual property law.
  • BATX stands for Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Xiaomi, the acronym for the four biggest tech firms in China, counter-standing by GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) in the United States. BATX are few of the first tech companies started in the 2000s, in the rise of Chinese tech revolution and became widely used among Chinese netizens.
  • In 2002, Yahoo had the chance to buy Google for $1 billion, but executives dragged their feet; by the time they decided to pursue the offer, Google’s price had soared to $3 billion. In the late ’90s, search was only generating six percent of Yahoo’s income stream, and the company believed it was not worth improving.