February 6, 2014

What DeepMind Means for the Future of Consumer Behavior and Big Data

Posted by Janna Leyde Category IconNews & Trends

Rich content, customer connection, and m-commerce are all strategies that will keep companies on top of their e-commerce game in 2014. And the most forward-thinking companies among them are looking into deep learning — or what we here at 2Checkout and many other companies recognize as big data. This is the concept of gathering copious amounts of information and analyzing it to help a company better understand its customer. It’s what all the online moguls are buying into: Facebook recently hired NYU Professor Yann LeCun to run its artificial intelligence lab; Yahoo bought the photo analysis company LookFlow; IBM owns Watson the supercomputer; and Google just ponied up $500 million to buy DeepMind, the London-based artificial intelligence agency that FB passed on last year. In the following post, we’ll take a look at this new technology and the massive repercussions it could well have on online searches and consumer psychology.

With DeepMind, Google will have the power to harness even more insight into how users browse, choose, buy, and type into what they search for. CEOs take note: more insight equals more dollars.

DeepMind arrives third in a recent string of acquisitions chock full of future-forward ambition. The first acquisition (December 2013) was Boston Dynamics, a robotics firm, which has people wondering what Google — the biggest and, many would argue, most successful search engine — thinks robots have to do with the internet. (This will keep Google on the forefront of man-machine technology in the same way that purchasing Android had kept the company on forefront of mobile happenings). The second purchase (January 2014) was Nest, a smart device maker, which can calculate when a user is at home and what rooms he or she occupies at any given time. The third, DeepMind, focuses on the escalating marriage of machine learning and neuro-processing. According to Re/Code, part of the deal between Google and this intriguing addition included a clause to establish an ethics committee to ensure that DeepMind’s well of AI technology will not be abused (“Don’t Be Evil” happens to be Google’s unofficial motto, though how much that sentiment’s been followed is debatable).

Now three years in and 75 employees on board, DeepMind has established a reputation for its novel technique of blending machine learning and neuroscience to create general-purpose learning algorithms. DeepMind’s programs are designed to predict the way people think. Experts believe that, eventually, AI will teach computers to learn how to think for themselves: to think the way human beings think. Of course Google is going to hop on board with that concept, even if the majority of us have trouble wrapping our heads around it.

In the past year, Google has been working toward improving language, speech, translation, and visual processing, all of which are better understood with the aid of machine learning and AI. At one point Google’s CEO Larry Page toyed with the idea of creating a brain chip to make search commands easier to follow. Imagine your computer piecing together your search criteria before you have the chance to type “Dylan + 2014 + football + car.” Did you mean: Chrysler and Bob Dylan Super Bowl Commercial?  Maybe you’d also like to watch: Puppy Love. Thanks, Google.

Google just wants to get more human. Because that’s what it looks like it’s going to take to really get to know your customer.