Google is Testing Training its AI Directly on Our Smartphones

Ed Lauder

April 11, 2017

2 Min Read

Google is testing a new way to train its AI algorithm directly on your smartphone as opposed to feeding its servers with raw data.

Google is testing a plethora of new ways to improve its AI systems. They want to create a streamlined approach to machine learning to ensure that your phone's AI is catered specifically to your needs. People are starting to get a bit worried about the amounts of data Google has on their users.

Think about it, Google offers its services like Google Drive for free, so naturally people will use them. Yet, this in turn means that they have access to considerable amounts of data on their customers. However, this new approach Google is testing, may help to dampen these fears somewhat.

Google has announced via a blog post it's new approach to training their machine learning platform. It's called "Federated Learning", and is a completely new way to train their AI by taking advantage of your phone's own processing power, as opposed to sending vast amounts of data to their servers directly via the cloud.

“It works like this: your device downloads the current model, improves it by learning from data on your phone, and then summarizes the changes as a small focused update,” wrote Google in their blog post.

“Only this update to the model is sent to the cloud, using encrypted communication, where it is immediately averaged with other user updates to improve the shared model. All the training data remains on your device, and no individual updates are stored in the cloud,” Google explained.

According to Google, they are currently testing this new approach on their keyboard app, Gboard, only on Android smartphones. “When Gboard shows a suggested query, your phone locally stores information about the current context and whether you clicked the suggestion. Federated Learning processes that history on-device to suggest improvements to the next iteration of Gboard’s query suggestion model,” Google highlighted.

Smartphone users may be slightly concerned about battery life and data usage, which is understandable. However, Google has reassured us that "Federated Learning" will only be initiated once your phone is plugged into a power source and connected to a free wifi network, which will include your home wifi. This will ensure that you don't get a huge bill from your respective network providers at the end of the month and that your phone's battery life won't be affected.

Feature image courtesy of Maurizio Pesce

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