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The future of the future: Sanjay Gupta, Google India – ET BrandEquity

Across the globe, close to a billion people use Google search every day. But as Sanjay Gupta, country head, Google India points out, 15% of the searches made every day have never, ever, been done before in the world. That means that one in seven searches made every day is new to the world.

“That underlines the curiosity of us as a society and forms the bedrock of innovation in the world. So I think, the role that we play as Google, we help consumers by providing them accurate information at speed,” said Gupta.

He added, “We do help somebody find a needle in the haystack. We have to understand as Google, the intent behind the search. When some people searched on Google and to make it very sharp and specific to their search, we have not only indexed every webpage video image or text, but almost every paragraph written in the world.”

The second thing is, one in 10 searches on Google, have an error. Hence the search engine needs to learn very well. “What people want to ask, even when they make mistakes? So Google uses a new spelling algorithm powered by a neural net with 680 million parameters that can better the search despite human errors in under 3 milliseconds.

Or if someone doesn’t remember the lyrics of a song, one can just hum the song, literally hum, without remembering the words on Google search, and it can help you discover that song. Last month, a hundred million people in the world used ‘humming’ on Google search to search for the song.

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Gupta says that Google enables “providing a little peep into tomorrow by looking at a whole lot of today and a bit of yesterday for us. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are and what to do. We bring search on your fingertips so that everybody in the world can innovate. They can join the dots better. They can leverage creativity to predict better and build businesses and take leaps. So for me breakout innovation and a better world enabled and accelerated by better information is how I see the future.”

One area where Google is actively working in India is in the space of mitigating natural calamities. Take floods as a case in point. If the water rises over the level, Google looks at how will water flow into a locality? “You can start predicting down to a 60 meter accuracy. What the level of water will be, let’s say 72 hours later.

“When we are predicting improvements in this space, reliability and precision are critical to people’s trust because when you give an alert to them, then they are going to take preventive action and they can only do it if they trust what you’re saying,” says Gupta. When a flood warning gets notified by Google on their mobile phones, it becomes really, really effective, he says and adds that the tech giant deployed this technology this year during the floods in Bihar and Assam and helped millions of people. People received flood alerts indicating the level of water that their locality is likely to have in 48 to 72 hours. This information was then used by disaster management authorities and groups to evacuate people and save lives.

Gupta adds that this technology can be applied to areas like education, health, agriculture, besides preventing losses from natural disasters. “In agriculture where half of the Indian working population is employed today, we can change the trajectory of what people own by using data and information and applying AI to deliver a better choice of crops, which crops to grow in a particular geography, better water management, a better use of fertilizers or prevention of harm by insects, by planning for it ahead of time and knowing what would happen in a crop,” he said.

The future smart application of AI to knowledge graphs will not only help spot the challenges, but also deliver solutions which can be a game changer at a very granular level. “I do believe agriculture is where Google and many such partners can make a difference to agriculture output and to India and its GDP,” he said.

(Sanjay Gupta spoke to Prasad Sangameshwaran during the launch of Sandeep Goyal’s book “Future Shock What’s Next?”)




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