Google CEO launches £1 billion UK charm offensive

Google chief Sundar Pichai has been popping up all over the place in London this week promoting the company’s expansion in the UK.

Jamie Davies

November 16, 2016

4 Min Read
Google CEO launches £1 billion UK charm offensive

Google chief Sundar Pichai has been popping up all over the place in London this week promoting the company’s expansion in the UK.

Central to the visit was the announcement Google will be expanding its presence in the capital over the next couple of years, aiming to have more than 7,000 Googlers at the UK HQ in Kings Cross. Google currently employs in the region of 4,000 in London, though the office space will more than double to accommodate the new staff as the city looks to become one of the internet giant’s global hubs. Estimates have the investment at around £1 billion.

“We understand there’s uncertainty, but we know for certain that the web and digital technology will be an engine of growth for the UK for years to come,” said Pichai. “We are committed to the UK and excited to continue our investment in our new King’s Cross campus. In the UK, it’s clear to me that computer science has a great future with the talent, educational institutions, and passion for innovation we see all around us.”

The news will come as a welcome relief to politicians in the UK and will certainly calm some nerves over whether businesses would relocate operations to states inside the EU following the Brexit vote.

The technology sector would appear to be gathering steam in London and will provide a level of confidence to other businesses who may be considering their options during this time of change in the UK. Aside from Google, Apple and Amazon have both announced they will hire 1,400 and 1,000 people respectively in London in recent weeks.

PR-Opportunity-300x284.pngAside from bringing jobs to the capital, Pichai also elbowed in a bit of PR smooze time as he visited Argyle Primary School. The visit was part of The Digital Garage initiative which will see the Google team offer free digital training to communities around the UK, as well as VR field trips for more than 1 million British students.

From a more corporate perspective, the Google team has been up to some more artificial intelligence tricks this week, as it has launched a new team. The new Cloud Machine Learning group will be led by Jia Li and Fei-Fei Li who in previous lives respectively led Snapchat’s research unit and Stanford University’s artificial intelligence lab.

Google is arguably already considered the worldwide leader in artificial intelligence though the new hires will only cement its position in a segment which has the potential to be the next major revolution in the technology industry. The team has already been working hard it seems as new machine learning APIs have hit the industry, ranging from recruitment through to music.

The Google Cloud Jobs API is designed to help businesses find, match and recommend relevant jobs to candidates. The API uses machine learning to understand how job titles and skills relate to one another and what job content, location, and seniority are the closest match to a jobseeker’s preferences.

On a more relatable note, the team has also released a new machine learning feature for Google Play Music which claims to be able to adapt to the customer’s preferences. AI applications in this ilk have been promised on numerous occasions by various tech firms so it will be interesting to see if the Google team has nailed the AI recommendation equation.

“Google Play Music uses machine learning to figure out what music you like and then mixes in signals like location, activity, and the weather along with hand-picked playlists to personalize music for wherever you are and whenever you want tunes,” said Elias Roman of Google Play Music. “Starting this week on Android, iOS and the web, the new experience will roll out globally.”

The feature will incorporate a number of different Google platforms, including maps. For example, if a user enters a gym, a work-out playlist will be recommended, music for focusing turn up at the library and if you’re on a weekend break, Google Play Music will (in theory) realize you’re not in your hometown and recommend music which is local to the area your sight-seeing.

It all sounds fantastic but considering our experience of machine learning recommendations is less than exceptional, will decline to hold its breath for the moment.


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