Google’s Anticipation Engine

Samsung and Intel have now joined Google in investing in an ‘Anticipation Engine’ start-up called Expect labs. It is a small start-up that has had a lot of cash thrown at it lately. The folks from Google have been putting a lot of money behind machine-learning engines, and trying to learn our ways to suggest content and information as we need it, or in some cases before we even ask.


Just last month Google bought a machine learning company called DNNresearch to boost voice search and more. DNNresearch specializes in ‘machine learning’ or artificial intelligence in computer systems. According to reports DNNresearch has worked hard in this area and their research finding will have “profound implications for areas such as speech recognition, computer vision and language understanding.” Which Google is expected to use in many aspects of their Google Search, apps, and mobile features. Google is already leading the pack with most of these areas but this acquisition should further improve their voice recognition and prediction, text search, and even image search and recognition.

A few weeks ago Google had added yet another company to their growing list of employees and acquisitions. Google had acquired a start-up company called Behavio, which uses smartphone sensors of all types to become a powerful prediction engine. This is just one more step in Google’s efforts to know what we want before we do.


Behavio essentially records and gathers data of all types from the wide array of sensors and info on our smartphones. Then in return analyses this data and can come up with accurate predictions of all types of things. It has been said their technology can predict riots and many other social related incidents, just to name a few.

Today marked an increase investment into a firm like Behavio that has close ties to Google. Similar to Behavio it users sensors to make predictions revealing Google’s growing intend to formula an prediction engine.

Using things like physical location, speed, contacts, nearby devices and events, sound levels, phone activity and more all gathered and monitored, then in return predict behavior and things of that nature. Pretty scary stuff when you really think about it. It targets more than just people too, and can target and analyze entire communities of groups of people at events.


The term being tossed around is anticipation engine, but there’s more to it than that. Apparently Expect Labs wants to listen in on your device, do a little eavesdropping, and then help anticipate what you’ll want to ask. Directions you might need in a few moments after chatting with friends, and much more. Sounds a bit freaky right?

Using voice recognition the company has built what they’re calling ACE (Anticipatory Computing Engine) that will listen in on a user’s conversation and more, then analyses what it learns to predict or anticipate what you’re going to search for or want next. Basically predicting your every need. While it sounds scary their goal isn’t to invade our privacy, although it certainly will, instead it wants to only help assist us much like Siri and Google Now does today, only on a completely different level.

What do you think of Google’s recent acquisitions all pointing towards an anticipation engine? How do you feel about your phone predicting what you will want it to do? And do you believe this will lead to privacy issues?


9 thoughts on “Google’s Anticipation Engine

  1. The first thing I thought of when I started reading the post was Big Brother and sure enough it came up towards the end. I think the idea of a computer listening in on my conversations is really creepy and I would much rather ask the computer what i want it to do rather than have it just anticipate what I am going to ask and save a few seconds of my time. Then again, I feel that auto correct when texting performs a similar function, and this function has drastically improved my texting speed. To think that by monitoring your phone a computer can figure out what you want to search next is truly insane and just shows the extent of how far technology has come in so little time. Google always seems to be making acquisitions, so these acquisitions do not surprise me, especially with this specific goal in mind. I definitely think that this technology would be groundbreaking, but whether or not it catches on with the public is another story entirely.

  2. I question how well an anticipation engine would be received by the public. Yes, our smartphones instantly bringing up directions to a location or a restaurant menu would save us some convenience, yet it would also begin to get a little creepy. I think many people would feel like this is a major invasion of privacy. Additionally, this might be bad for the human mind. If computers can anticipate our thoughts, this leads to us using our minds less and less. This can be hazardous once we have this technology taken away from us if, for an example, our phone breaks. Think of the time on a math test our calculator battery dies and we actually have to do math in our heads. Since we’ve gotten so used to using technology in this situation, something our minds should be able to do quite easily becomes a struggle. I worry the same may happen with anticipation engines. This is a very interesting post and points to a very controversial issue as well as a remarkable developing technology.

  3. When I first started to read this blog, I thought the idea seemed really cool that devices could make accurate predictions. However, as I read further, your comparison to big brother totally hit the nail on the head. To answer your questions, I think that Google is definitely in the works to take the idea of Siri to the next level. With all of the data collecting power it has, it would provide a perfect use for it all. However, while this technology is amazing, I personally would not feel comfortable with this new technology until I knew how Google plans to protect and balance the idea of privacy. The idea that you could talk to you friend on the phone about going out to eat and the hang up and look at your phone and it would show places to go eat nearby is an amazing idea to me. But, I do not think this technology can be successful without its assured regulation and safety. The way Google introduces and enforces its new technology will greatly impact its overall success.

  4. I agree with Jack’s comment. I’m nervous to let technology do our thinking for us. Already, I’ve found that people are terrible at directions. My parents have a sense for the road that my friends and I just do not. We never have to learn how to get places because of GPS technology. I’m nervous of the repercussions of no longer even having to search for a destination.
    I also am concerned about the complete lack of privacy that this entails. I’m not sure I would like to have my every conversation overhead, and wouldn’t something like this seriously decrease battery life?
    Despite my worries, I am often astounded by the positive benefits of technology. Perhaps an anticipation engine like this will greatly increase efficiency. It may be a problem solver that has the answers to questions we’re about to ask. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  5. After reading this article, I am sufficiently freaked out. It makes me extremely curious on the implications a service like this would have on legislation and new laws. There must be some lobbying groups already existing who are against this type of invasion of privacy. Yet there are probably others who are extreme proponents of these services. I predict that there will be controversy that will lead to laws being made to either allow or protect citizens from this type of data collection because many people will see it as a Big Brother type of situation, as you mentioned in the article. Aside from the implications in government, what about the implications on how we live? As other classmates mentioned in their comments, this is making us increasingly dependent on technology to solve all of our problems and questions, to the point where our brains may lose some capacity for problem-solving. This topic always reminds me of the film Wall-E, and how Pixar’s interpretation of humans in the future played out. Check out this clip from the movie:

  6. First of all, this article perfectly matches the things we talked in class. Google is spending a lot of money on innovations and trying to create the next big thing. It knows that its a one trick pony and wants to expand its areas. Google’s DNNresearch project really has a big benefit, for example its GOOGLE glass requires a lot of voice and speech recognition . However, its attempt to invent anticipation engine is scary in some sense. I am afraid that in the future, technology will do the thinking for us. At that time, the situation will be reversed, we will be like the robot who does not think and just follow. It is always good to research for more advanced technology, but it is also important to keep in mind to not let technology control out lives.

  7. I don’t think there is a scenario where this technology doesn’t lead to privacy concerns. For as many people who genuinely want to use this anticipatory technology to improve our lives, there will always be a portion of people who will use it to profit or simply to mess with us just for the thrill of it. I think people who exploit other’s privacy will become the new generation of hackers. Of course the exploitation of privacy already happens but I think this new technology is going to allow it to happen on a grander scale.

  8. An extremely interesting concept, but one fraught with incredible risk. Privacy regulations are becoming more stringent over time and I am curious how such technology will be perceived by the government and the public. The technical challenges are also immense. I recall how Siri was ridiculed when it was initially rolled out because what was shown in advertisements were either difficult to accomplish (i.e. voice recognition issues) or non-pragmatic (i.e. I don’t really need to do all those things during my morning jog).

  9. I think it certainly looks as if Google is moving towards an “anticipation engine” but I also think it’s just a smart business plan on their part. Apple has Siri, and in order to compete in the technology environment of today’s market, you have to at least be able to keep up with your competitor. I also hope for a more advanced voice-recognition software in whatever Google produces. I think they’re privacy issues currently but if the technology becomes more advanced, like Google’s predicative technology, those may be further addressed.

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