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Google on Wednesday unveiled several of its latest advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and showed how they are being applied in different areas of human endeavor, including healthcare, disaster management, robotics and video creation.
Among the announcements was the expansion of a flood forecast initiative that had already been implemented in India and Bangladesh and now will be brought to 18 other countries: 15 in Africa, two in Latin America (Brazil and Colombia) and one more in Asia (Sri Lanka).
Google also announced the global launch of FloodHub, a dashboard that will display when and where floods may occur and is to be available soon on Google Maps and the Internet giant’s world-leading search engine.
The company’s senior director of research and innovations, Katherine Chou, said during the event at Google’s offices in New York City that AI technology has the potential to reduce disaster-related deaths and economic damage by between 30 percent and 50 percent.
She said a similar wildfire-tracking AI tool is under development but is already available in the United States, Canada, Mexico and parts of Australia.
In addition, Chou said Google is implementing AI for use in low-cost ultrasound devices that will be able to help healthcare workers identify problems in the early stages of pregnancy.
ARDA (Automated Retinal Disease Assessment), an AI-based application already in use in India, is another field of AI research for Google.
That app will help doctors expand high-quality diabetic retinopathy screening programs in countries without enough eye specialists.
But now the tech giant wants to go a step further and make it possible for that screening to be done via an individual’s cellphone.
Also unveiled on Wednesday were two new projects – “Imagen Video” and “Phetaki” – that enable users to create ultra-realistic, high-resolution images from text instructions and an AI-powered robotic arm capable of responding to certain information and making associations.
For example, in response to text indicating that a user’s favorite cup was blue and her favorite candy was M&Ms, the robot placed a small bag of M&Ms in a blue cup.
Referring to privacy and security concerns surrounding text creation, true-to-life, high-quality videos and faithful reproductions of human voices, the speakers at the event said Google is well aware of these issues and has strict protocols in place to address them.
In that regard, Douglas Eck, a principal scientist at Google Research and research director on Google’s Brain Team, said the company intends to implement controls on AI-based image and video creation to, for example, minimize the creation of toxic and violent content.
He also hailed other Google AI developments that can assist artists in their creative processes.
“One of the main announcements we made was around high-resolution video that is able to tell a story based on multiple prompts. And I’m very excited about this idea that it opens up a new avenue of storytelling for users, perhaps someday filmmakers,” Eck said.