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It’s Computer Science Education Week, and coding is everywhere

Category: Google | Dec 4, 2017

I got into coding through classical music. When I studied it in college, I worked with a researcher who found a way to represent the notation of a large number of musical works digitally. I learned to code by doing various analyses to find patterns that automatically identified specific composers. These programs could distinguish between a Haydn and a Mozart piano sonata, which many musicians can’t even do. Once I saw the power of this skill, I had to learn more! I started taking some computer science (CS) classes, and ended up changing direction entirely from music to CS.

Now, as a VP in Engineering at Google, I work to close the gaps that exist in CS education and access (only 40% of U.S. schools offer CS classes and many kids from underrepresented backgrounds still don’t feel that CS is for them). To combat that, we’ve created programs like CS First and Made With Code that expose kids to computer science and computational thinking at an early age (rather than discovering it later in life like I did), and help them develop those critical skills. And once a year, we rally around Computer Science Education Week, a celebration to inspire students and educators to get excited about where CS can take them (hint: anywhere) and take that first step in learning to code. Since CSEdWeek started back in 2013, we’ve been a proud partner, reaching more than 15 million students and supporting 35,000+ events each year.

Our support continues this year, and we’re doing a lot to celebrate. Today’s homepage features the first-ever interactive coding-themed Doodle, called “Coding for Carrots.” Anyone can try it out by using a simple programming language to solve puzzles. The code continues with an activity from CS First that lets you make your own custom Google logo, or you can try a holiday-themed emoji project from Made with Code.


Today’s Doodle, “Coding for Carrots.”

I hope these activities help kids realize that it’s easy to give coding a try, because so many things in world—from a movie to an amusement park ride—started with code. I wrote about this in a StoryWeaver story called “Coding is Everywhere,” illustrated by my fellow Googler Ma’ayan Rosenzweig. If more kids learned how to code, think about how many cool things we could build!


Illustrations from the story.

I found my own passion for coding when I least expected it. This CSEdWeek, try coding for carrots, create your own Google logo or even a holiday emoji. You might discover how exciting coding can be for you.


Update on the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism

Category: Google | Dec 4, 2017

At last year’s EU Internet Forum, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube declared our joint determination to curb the spread of terrorist content online. Over the past year, we have formalized this partnership with the launch of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT). We hosted our first meeting in August where representatives from the tech industry, government and non-governmental organizations came together to focus on three key areas: technological approaches, knowledge sharing, and research. Since then, we have participated in a Heads of State meeting at the UN General Assembly in September and the G7 Interior Ministers meeting in October, and we look forward to hosting a GIFCT event and attending the EU Internet Forum in Brussels on the 6th of December.

The GIFCT is committed to working on technological solutions to help thwart terrorists’ use of our services, and has built on the groundwork laid by the EU Internet Forum, particularly through a shared industry hash database, where companies can create “digital fingerprints” for terrorist content and share it with participating companies.

The database, which we announced our commitment to building last December and became operational last spring, now contains more than 40,000 hashes. It allows member companies to use those hashes to identify and remove matching content — videos and images — that violate our respective policies or, in some cases, block terrorist content before it is even posted.

We are pleased that, Cloudinary, Instagram,, LinkedIn, Oath, and Snap have also recently joined this hash-sharing consortium, and we will continue our work to add additional companies throughout 2018.

In order to disrupt the distribution of terrorist content across the internet, companies have invested in collaborating and sharing expertise with one another. GIFCT’s knowledge-sharing work has grown quickly in large measure because companies recognize that in countering terrorism online we face many of the same challenges.

Although our companies have been sharing best practices around counterterrorism for several years, in recent months GIFCT has provided a more formal structure to accelerate and strengthen this work. In collaboration with the Tech Against Terror initiative — which recently launched a Knowledge Sharing Platform with the support of GIFCT and the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate — we have held workshops for smaller tech companies in order to share best practices on how to disrupt the spread of violent extremist content online.

Our initial goal for 2017 was to work with 50 smaller tech companies to to share best practices on how to disrupt the spread of violent extremist material. We have exceeded that goal, engaging with 68 companies over the past several months through workshops in San Francisco, New York, and Jakarta, plus another workshop next week in Brussels on the sidelines of the EU Internet Forum.

We recognize that our work is far from done, but we are confident that we are heading in the right direction. We will continue to provide updates as we forge new partnerships and develop new technology in the face of this global challenge


Searching for China’s next great Go talent

Category: Google | Dec 4, 2017

Sundar Pichai, our CEO, with students at the Nie Weiping Go school today. 

Six months ago, the Future of Go Summit was held in Wuzhen, China to test the limits of what human and artificial intelligence could achieve together. China’s best players teamed up with DeepMind’s AlphaGo to play Go in the country where it was invented and first played more than 3,000 years ago.

Chinese players Future of Go Summit

9 dan Chinese players Shi Yue, Mi Yuting, Tang Weixing, Chen Yaoye, and Zhou Ruiyang at the Future of Go Summit

I had watched the earlier games between Korean Go legend Lee Sedol and AlphaGo. In Wuzhen, I was again struck by how AlphaGo’s unconventional moves pushed human players into equally creative responses, creating fascinating new gameplay and sparking new momentum in the Go community. After AlphaGo’s games, people bought so many Go boards that stores were reportedly selling out! The brilliance and dedication that great players like Ke Jie, Gu Li and Lian Xiao demonstrated in Wuzhen has stayed with me.

We’d like to help the next generation of Go players in China discover that same passion. So we’re supporting the Nie Weiping Go School, one of the world’s most prestigious Go-learning institutions, to hold open Go competitions for kids and young adults across China—in hope of helping to find and nurture China’s next great Go talent.

Any Go player as young as four and up to the age of 18 will be able to take part. The best players will travel to Beijing for a national contest next summer. There, they’ll play for a chance to win one of more than 200 scholarships that we will fund for promising Go talent to study at the Nie school. They’ll also play for an opportunity to test their skills against one of the world’s top-ranked players.

Humanity’s 3,000-year-old quest to understand the complexity of Go continues with new tools and new generations. Artificial intelligence has not diminished our passion, but only broadened our understanding of the game’s possibilities. I am certain that the Go champions of the future will embrace artificial intelligence in their quest to achieve an ever more perfect game. Let’s keep playing and let’s keep learning!


The High Five: what people searched for this week

Category: Google | Dec 1, 2017

Amidst allegations against prominent men in media, people were abuzz about a royal engagement and feeling generous on Giving Tuesday. Here are a few of the top search trends this week:

Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor

People are searching for media personalities Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor this week, following their firings due to allegations of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. People searched to find out more about Lauer and Keillor’s accusers, and details about the complaints. Following the news, search interest in Lauer’s former “Today Show” co-host Katie Couric went up 1,700 percent and interest in current co-host Savannah Guthrie went up nearly 500 percent.

I now pronounce you prince and princess

Prince Harry is officially off the market, now engaged to American actress Meghan Markle. In the U.S., people are wondering how it all started—the top searched question about the engagement was “Who introduced Prince Harry to Meghan?” But people in the U.K. are looking ahead to wedding day, searching to find out “Will we get a day off when Prince Harry gets married?” And everyone wants to know how much Markle’s ring will sparkle—this week’s “engagement ring” searches were all related to to Harry’s bride-to-be.

Give a little bit

Last week was all about eating, and this week was all about giving. People searched for organizations to donate to this Giving Tuesday—the top searched philanthropic organizations were Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill and Salvation Army. Other top questions about charity and philanthropy were “where to donate clothes,” “how to start a nonprofit” and “how to start a GoFundMe page.”

Sneeze season

Early estimates show that Australia’s flu vaccine was only 10 percent effective at preventing the this year’s strain of the virus, leading to searches in the U.S. like “How effective is the 2017 flu vaccine?” and “What are the ingredients in a flu shot?” Earlier this week, “flu shot” was searched 220 percent more than “flu symptoms,” as some people are still looking to get a shot—another top search was “How much is the flu shot at CVS?” Top regions searching for influenza vaccine were Connecticut, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Heads or tails?

Search interest in “bitcoin” reached an all-time high in the U.S. this week, as prices peaked. But questions remain about this cryptic cryptocurrency—top searches were “What is bitcoin?” “How to buy Bitcoin” and “How to invest in Bitcoin.” Other than bitcoin, top searched cryptocurrencies were Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin.


Talks at Google we fell for this fall

Category: Google | Dec 1, 2017

Editor’s Note: Talks at Google is our regular speaker series that brings interesting speakers and brilliant minds from all industries and backgrounds to Google campuses. Each month, we select a few favorite talks from that month, or about a particular topic.

In November, we cracked the code on classical music, went deep on economics and history, and soared high with a talk about Mars (and that’s not even the science-fiction part). Check out a few of our favorite Talks at Google from November.

Former Googler Laura Lark shares what it was like to be on the fifth HI-SEAS (Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) mission. Designed to study human behavior and performance, the mission helps NASA determine the individual and team requirements for long-duration space exploration missions—including travel to Mars.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and bestselling author Muhammad Yunus chats about his book, “A World of Three Zeroes: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Carbon Emissions.” Yunus shares his thoughts on capitalism being broken, and ideas about a new economic system that unleashes altruism as a creative force just as powerful as self-interest.

Podcaster and “hardcore historian” Dan Carlin describes how the future will be influenced by new forms of media and storytelling. Mediums like podcasts will give historians “nuggets of gold that they can mine later,” preserving stories that “would have died in a bar somewhere” for millions of people to hear.

Actor and comedian Seth MacFarlane and his creative team dish about the making of their FOX show “The Orville.” They cover their everything from their creative influences—when writing science fiction, Seth looks for something that “sits with him like a bad meal”—to how writing for “The Orville” differs from past shows like “Futurama.”

Members of the Grammy-nominated chamber orchestra Metropolis Ensemble join together with composer and programmer Elliot Cole, who reveals his imaginative process using custom code as a springboard for real-time music composition and discovery.


Zip up your jacket for this week’s #teampixel adventures

Category: Google | Dec 1, 2017

Wondering where #teampixel went this week? Some braved the cold temperatures in Iceland’s Blue Lagoon or at Yosemite National Park, while another got toasty with (several) warm beverages.

If you have a Pixel and want to show us the world through your lens, tag your photos with #teampixel for an opportunity to be featured next.

  • Pixel_1130_1.jpg
    Left: hk_man – St. Paul cathedral lit up at night. Right: theilsanne – Showing contrast between floor and the sky with a twist!
  • Pixel_1130_2.jpg
    littlechuckdarwin – Hiking at Bear Peak with a beautiful sunset
  • Pixel_1130_3.jpg
    Left: jonhuynh1 – Cool mornings in Yosemite National Park. Right: Milesstorey – Spanish shadows
  • Pixel_1130_4.jpg
    Left: Khyatitrehan – Her first James Turrell. Right: Matt.hilliard – Blue lagoon
  • Pixel_1130_5.jpg
    Klesah – Reading essentials


Announcing Google Play’s “Best of 2017”

Category: Google | Dec 1, 2017

To close out another great year for Google Play, we’re sharing the best and most popular apps, games, music, movies, TV shows and books in 2017.

No one knows how far she can go better than “Moana,” as she landed the most popular movie of the year on Google Play. Strong female characters dominated this year’s movies chart with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Wonder Woman” rounding out the top three. “Game of Thrones” kept “Rick and Morty” and “The Walking Dead” at bay to claim the Iron Throne for the second year in a row as the most popular TV show. Elsewhere, Kendrick Lamar may no longer be so “HUMBLE.” after beating out Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” as Google Play’s most streamed song of 2017. Kendrick’s “DNA” also holds the number three spot on this list.

Nintendo’s “Super Mario Run” was the most downloaded new game of the year, but not all bubbles were burst, as “Bubble Witch 3 Saga” was closely behind at number two. “Photo Editor – Beauty Camera & Photo Filters” was the most downloaded new app with fans touching up their favorite photos for social media. We also have curated lists this year from our editors to help you find the best apps and games of 2017, such as “Socratic – Math Answers & Homework Help” and “CATS: Crash Area Turbo Stars,” respectively.

Check out Google Play’s top five lists below for this year’s most popular content in the U.S. You can also discover the most popular lists around the world and all our editors’ choices on the Best of 2017 section of the Play Store.

Google Play’s U.S Best of 2017 Lists

Most popular new apps of 2017

Most popular new games of 2017

Top five streamed songs of 2017

Top five movies of 2017

Top five TV shows of 2017           

Top five books of 2017


It’s the most wonderful time of the year—Santa’s Village is back in business!

Category: Google | Nov 30, 2017

It’s that time of year again—Santa Claus is coming to town! We’re only 24 days away from takeoff, so Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all of the elves and reindeer are wrapping presents and readying the sleigh.


Join in the merriment, and visit Santa’s Village every day through December 24 to uncover new games and holiday cheer. Learn to code the famous elf dance with Code Boogie, create original artwork in Santa’s Canvas, and take part in what could be the world’s largest virtual snowball fight. (Shhh, we weren’t supposed to tell you about that one.)


With the new “Santa Snap” game, available only on the Android app, you can fly your jetpack-ed elf around the globe in Google Maps and take “elfies” with famous world landmarks. Use the accelerometer to focus the lens and take a pictures at just the right time.


On December 24, grab hot chocolate and tune into Santa Tracker to follow the big guy and his trusty reindeer as they make their way around the globe. See where Santa’s going, the number of presents he’s delivered, and learn about different holiday traditions along the way. You can even ask the Google Assistant: “Ok Google, where is Santa?” Try it out with your Assistant on an Android phone, iPhone and Google Home to check in on old St. Nick.


If you’re a teacher or parent, we’ve added resources to our education page where you can easily download lesson plans with video tutorials and access all of the educational games.


Join the residents of the North Pole for all of these adventures and games on Android, iOS, and Chrome and be sure to visit Santa’s Village each day to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.


Machine learning gives environmentalists something to tweet about

Category: Google | Nov 30, 2017

Editor’s note: TensorFlow, our open source machine learning library, is just that—open to anyone. Companies, nonprofits, researchers and developers have used TensorFlow in some pretty cool ways, and we’re sharing those stories here on Keyword. Here’s one of them.

Victor Anton captured tens of thousands of birdsong recordings, collected over a three-year period. But he had no way to figure out which birdsong belonged to what bird.

The recordings, taken at 50 locations around a bird sanctuary in New Zealand known as “Zelandia,” were part of an effort to better understand the movement and numbers of threatened species including the Hihi, Tīeke and Kākāriki. Because researchers didn’t have reliable information about where the birds were and how they moved about, it was difficult to make good decisions about where to target conservation efforts on the ground.

Endangered species include the Kākāriki, Hihi, and Tīekei

Endangered species include the Kākāriki, Hihi, and Tīekei.

That’s where the recordings come in. Yet the amount of audio data was overwhelming. So Victor—a Ph.D. student at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand—and his team turned to technology.

“We knew we had lots of incredibly valuable data tied up in the recordings, but we simply didn’t have the manpower or a viable solution that would help us unlock this,” Victor tells us. “So we turned to machine learning to help us.”

Some of the audio recorders set up at 50 sites around the sanctuary

Some of the audio recorders set up at 50 sites around the sanctuary.

In one of the quirkier applications of machine learning, they trained a Google TensorFlow-based system to recognize specific bird calls and measure bird activity. The more audio it deciphered, the more it learned, and the more accurate it became.

It worked like this: the AI system used audio that had been recorded and stored, chopping it into minute-long segments, and then converting the file into a spectrogram. After the spectrograms were chopped into chunks, each spanning less than a second, they were processed individually by a deep convolutional neural network. A recurrent neural network then tied together the chunks and produced a continual prediction of which of the three birds was present across the minute-long segment. These segments were compiled to create a fuller picture about the presence and movement of the birds.

TensorFlow processed the Spectograms and learned to identify the calls of different species

TensorFlow processed the Spectograms and learned to identify the calls of different species.

The team faced some unique challenges. They were starting with a small quantity of labelled data, the software would often pick up other noises like construction, cars and even doorbells, and some of the bird species had a variety of birdsongs or two would sing at the same time.

To overcome these hurdles, they tested, verified and retrained the system many times over. As a result, they have learned things that would have otherwise remained locked up in thousands of hours of data. While it’s still early days, already conservation groups are talking to Victor about how they can use these initial results to better target their efforts. Moreover, the team has seen enough encouraging signs that they believe that their tools can be applied to other conservation projects.

“We are only just beginning to understand the different ways we can put machine learning to work in helping us protect different fauna,” says Victor, “ultimately allowing us to solve other environmental challenges across the world.”


Get local help with your Google Assistant

Category: Google | Nov 30, 2017

No matter what questions you’re asking—whether about local traffic or a local business—your Google Assistant should be able to help. And starting today, it’s getting better at helping you, if you’re looking for nearby services like an electrician, plumber, house cleaner and more.

To get started, say “Ok Google, find me a plumber” to your Assistant on your Android phone, iPhone or voice activated speaker, like Google Home. The Assistant will then ask you a few follow up questions and you’ll get a list of some local options nearby.


In the U.S., this feature will start rolling out over the coming week, so help is just around the corner. In many cities the Google Assistant will suggest providers that have been prescreened by Google and companies like HomeAdvisor and Porch so you can feel confident they’re ready to take on the job. And if you’re in a city that doesn’t have any available guaranteed or screened providers, you’ll still get an answer from the Assistant with other nearby results.

So start planning your next big project—whether it’s fixing your garage door or painting your garage door—all with your Assistant by your side.