Friday, April 22, 2011
By Scott Knaster, Google Code Blog Editor
Clarke's Third Law states that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". That's exactly how I felt the first time I saw various bits of advanced software: for example, watching a word processor automatically wrap words at the end of a line without having to press Return, seeing the Mac's graphical user interface and learning that I could program it into my apps using ordinary-looking function calls, and watching a search engine take a couple of words and almost instantly find exactly the right web page from among millions.
The Prediction API described in yesterday's post on this blog is a modern piece of software that feels like magic. Using machine learning, the Prediction API examines existing data, determines patterns, and makes educated guesses at answers to questions. For example, if you train a program with phrases in various languages, you can then feed it new phrases and have it determine the language of the new phrases. That's certainly something humans can learn to do; having computers do it sounds remarkable to me, but it's real.
You can use the Prediction API to tell whether user comments are positive or negative, decide which emails are most and least relevant, and identify suspicious activity. If you'd like to add features like these to your apps, please check out yesterday's post.
Turning to a completely different topic, if you're interested at all in making your HTML5 and CSS3 faster, spend half an hour or so watching this talk by Paul Irish from the Google Developer Relations Team. There's a lot in there, including a nifty section about hardware accelerated CSS.
Finally, for nerdy nature fun, please check out this video that shows what happens when a wasp and an ant fight over the same food.