Google’s Game

Posted March 22, 2016 by

When your name becomes its own verb, it’s a pretty good indication that you’ve made it. Around here for example, people are prone to use the phrase “I totally David’ed that” meaning: preformed to perfection while managing to stay roguishly charming.

On a significantly larger scale, to ‘Google’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in the summer of last year, adding to the pile of wonderful Brand building the Company is inundating us with on an almost daily basis. Google has seemingly mastered the art of utilizing many different avenues to positively add to its Brand image.

Google continuously finds new and innovative ways to market itself and stay in front of consumers. Projects such as March’s Deepmind and AlphaGo playing Go against world-champion Lee Se-Dol, serve to keep the Company at the forefront of the tech industry in the eyes of the public. The way Google uses these R&D-type projects as advertising platforms is truly brilliant. Setting up a public test for a machine-learning program has been done before, by IBM in 1997 when Deep Blue famously beat Garry Kasparov at chess and again with Watson competing on Jeopardy in 2011, but the path Google chose in Go was an intentionally fascinating one.

Go is game more than 2,500 years old, and considered to be the most complex game ever created by human beings. Think of it this way, a game of chess has about 10 power of 60 (that’s the number 10 with 60 zeros behind it) possible scenarios, or versions of a game, where as Go has 10 to the power of 700. That is more scenarios in a single game of Go than there are atoms in the known universe. Go was considered the Everest of computer game theory. It is a game where making the optimal move each turn just isn’t enough. With the extremely high level of variance in a single game, players must constantly be thinking ahead, and the player who is able to see the furthest into the future nearly always wins the game. AlphaGo, winning four out of five games against Lee Se-Dol, is a monumental achievement in machine learning and technological advancement, and Google has their name all over it.

Although AlphaGo is the most recent example, Google almost always manages to uniquely present itself. For example, Google Fiber has been presented as a way that allows Google to play the conquering hero – from the way they narrow down which city will next acquire the service to how they blog about installing it once they are there. They even go a step further and send out customized updates, catered to peoples’ addresses about when they are installing the fiber optic network that include photos of the Google teams installing the service. Google Fiber sends out t-shirts, stickers, and other goodies that make getting faster Internet feel like being part of a political movement. Even projects that don’t succeed to the same level, like Google Glass, still add to Google’s image of pushing technology and innovation forward.

As Google continues to find new ways to impress, we all look forward to seeing what they come up with next.


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