Simon Willison’s Weblog


One consideration is that such a deep ML system could well be developed outside of Google-- at Microsoft, Baidu, Yandex, Amazon, Apple, or even a startup. My impression is that the Translate team experienced this. Deep ML reset the translation game; past advantages were sort of wiped out. Fortunately, Google’s huge investment in deep ML largely paid off, and we excelled in this new game. Nevertheless, our new ML-based translator was still beaten on benchmarks by a small startup. The risk that Google could similarly be beaten in relevance by another company is highlighted by a startling conclusion from BERT: huge amounts of user feedback can be largely replaced by unsupervised learning from raw text. That could have heavy implications for Google.

Eric Lehman, internal Google email in 2018