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pemo (Notes from a Small [Academic] Island) ++++++++++++++++++ It's all academic! ++++++++++++++++++

Our [Oxford University] comlab staff, post-docs, RAs, alumni and the like at were invited to Google's London HQ last night: we don't really know why, but, hey - it was good fun, and pretty interesting.

There was one speaker – Google's recently hired Vint Cerf.  He gave a talk about how he basically sees the Internet evolving, and how that will effect existing business models - and develop new ones.

He also stated [I think] that it was estimated that we'd soon [all] own at least 10 devices that are more or less permanently connected to the Internet – IPv6 needed of course!  He gave some examples of existing devices that demonstrated some of this.

In the USA, you can apparently buy a fridge that's 'on the internet'.  If you store items in it this fridge that have RFID tags on/in them [that describe everything about the item – use-by date, ingredients, nutritional value, …], then the fridge can automatically find recipes that use these items in various combinations, and provide you with recipes.  The fridge can also apparently 'text' you, e.g., "if you buy some whole grain mustard, I've everything else required for a steak dinner you wouldn't believe" [or some such wording!].  He also told us about some scales that can determine who you are [in a family] by your weight, and send this information to your doctor.  He/she can then send back information that the fridge can use – to suggest recipes for low fat dinners perhaps!!

During the Q&A he was asked about the future of AI, and whilst he was being honest – and I agreed with his comments - it was disappointing: he essentially seemed to see little progress being made in the field anytime soon [and certainly nothing substantional happening for n years - what's nn = BIG].  Well, that's my opinion of what his answer contained; and I reckon he's right.

As to the location.  Google's London HQ is on two floors of a rather funky office block in Buckingham Palace Road– most of which seemed empty … so, it looks like they've lots of room for expansion!

After the talk - drinks, snacks on trays [Sushi, etc], and we got a nice goodie bag – the normal stuff – a t-shirt, a pen, some google post-it notes, and a rather nice notebook [the type you write in!]

We've got some more exposure to Google this Thursday when our lab is getting a talk from Shannon Maher [London Engineering Director].  He's going to address "some of the challenges Google face across a wide range of computing disciplines", e.g., issues involved in building large, scalable distributed systems as well as work in areas such as information retrieval, natural language processing [w00t], intelligent data analysis, and user interface design - to make these systems effective at sifting, organising, and presenting relevant information to the user.

That one sounds more interesting than yesterday's, and I would guess that it'll be more technical – which should be good.

Posted on Wednesday, March 8, 2006 1:49 PM | Back to top

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