Another day at Google Developer Days

7 minute read

Image taken from GDD India highlights

After coming back home from the first day of GDDIndia, it was such a great and exciting experience that I stayed awake all night writing about it(here). For the second day, I made it to the venue with only few minutes left for the keynote. There were few “Hi”s and smiles exchanged as I was on my way to the keynote. It was Sebastian Trzcinski-Clement(he accepts it’s a complicated full name) with a cool turban who started the keynote. He spoke more than Namaste in Hindi. We Indians find it overwhelmingly friendly when someone from another country speaks our language. Sebastian started his keynote talking about diversity and inclusion. This year’s GDD in India had 36% of women attendance. Is it more or less when compared to other Google events? We will get to that when we are at the Community Lounge with Dan Franc.

Sebastian had a guest talk with Geetha Manjunath, who is the CEO of Niramai, a startup for detecting Breast Cancer at a very early stage using AI and Machine Learning based algorithms. With AI and ML having a lot of potential for changing lives in a good way, results like these can help fight the scepticism these fields face. This was followed by Sowmya Subramanian’s talk about inclusive design paradigm. What’s that? If you are designing an algorithm which takes images and classifies it as human or not and if it learns from images of only light skinned humans, it will classify dark skinned humans as not humans. To avoid this, the algorithm/product/technology which is being built should be usable,accessible and inclusive for all(if that’s not possible, then it should be accessible for as many people as possible).

Sowmya and Sebastian(Pic by Peter Lubbers

After the keynote, I headed to one of my favorite spots at GDD which is the Community Lounge for the event “Meet a Googler”. The Googler was Amit Chopra. It was an interesting talk which he started by showing us some pictures and sharing his experiences as a programmer which he started doing before I was even born. During the talk, he said though it’s important we do what we want to and dream about, it should also be a careful decision when we decide what we do. When he was asked what’s so great about working in Google and how his typical working day in Google will be, he said that no two days of his work will be the same(the list of reasons for wanting to work in Google never seem to have an end. Challenging tasks, amazing people, great salary, awesome food, pet friendly, employee gift-matching and now this). When you listen to someone who as a part of working with computers flipped in and flipped out around thirty floppy disks, you feel how much the things have changed!

Remember the bag I got on the first day? I got another one at the Community Lounge on my second day as well. The few things which were missing in the Pico Pro kit were also provided at the Google Assistant demo lounge. Google Assistant demo lounge has been my other favorite spot. It has been busy and crowded throughout the two days. Drawbot was a real crowd puller. I told you it was cute. Stephen and Brian who were there all day taking care of Drawbot were really patient and friendly(so were every others at other places too). If you go around Drawbot, chances are that you will be greeted by Stephen Hawes in his smiling and exciting voice saying “Hellooo” and then introducing you to the Drawbot. After I talked to him and bumped into him sometime later, he said, “heyyy, loong tiime no seee”.

Anitha Vijayakumar and Kaz Sato had sessions on Machine Learning and TensorFlow. Post lunch, I had a talk with Anitha as she was sitting there and answering questions on TensorFlow and Machine Learning. Learning, practising what we learn, contributing to open source were few of the key things she suggested. Though Machine Learning and Data Science are at high demand, she was saying there are not currently enough number of people skilled in those fields. When I asked her about Google Brain Residency Program, she said they receive a lot of applications for that most of which are from researchers.

I saw a talk by Kaz Sato on Machine Learning from some other Google event. So attending a live session of his and talking to him in person was really nice. It was in the evening that I saw him sitting at the TensorFlow demo, where I talked to Anitha. He suggested using Keras along with TensorFlow since that would make things easier from code perspective. Just a decade ago, when compared to now, the amount of data that is being shared and uploaded online, consisted of mainly and only the demographics data. But it’s a totally different scenario now since it also includes the bio-metric data. We talked for sometime and he shared his views about how the data can be secured. I wished him a happy journey to Singapore(that’s where he was heading from GDDIndia).

If you are a Roger Federer fan, every time his Wimbledon ends and whether he wins it or not, you will wait for him to say, “See you guys next year”. That’s what I wanted to hear about GDD happening next year. I already asked few people from the event organising team about that, who said the event could happen again next year but I didn’t get a confirmation that there will be. In the evening at the Community Lounge, Dan Franc in his talk said that from the stats they got, the GDD event here in India had a women attendance of 36%. He then said Google events that took place at other places had, wait, he asked us to guess. You should take a guess too. It’s 5–15%. He said they are all really happy to see many women being part of the event here in India and he said they want it to grow next year. Two good news about that. One, its good to have so many women in a tech conference and two, though he didn’t give a confirmation about GDD happening in India next year, that was enough to keep me waiting. He also answered a question, “What does Google get from events like these? How does it profit?” He answered saying, Google wants developers to try their products. That’s one of the reasons. And then he said Google believes in sharing the knowledge and education with the community.

There was one event which I wanted to attend but I couldn’t. It was the Design Thinking workshop. It was scheduled to happen from 2.50pm to 5.50pm. I reached there 10 minutes before only to see that there was a big line of people waiting to attend the workshop. The number of people standing were almost double the capacity and so many people had to miss it. I went around talking to few other people. Sam who was totally busy for two days clicking photos said he has been to India before and travelled to many cities. Another Googler shared how she had such a nice time when she was in Nepal during this year’s Diwali. She is currently part of the IoT team which she recently got into from a totally different role. Though she finds it challenging, she said she is getting around with the great team she is part of.

It was almost end of the second day at GDD. I went around thanking and wishing a happy journey to all the googlers I could find, Peter, Michael, Stephen,Agnes, Sam, Morgan, Brian,Aleks and few others whose names I dont know(I seem to know many of them now, the Googlers). It was not only a big event, it was such a big success too. Starting from receiving people at the metro station to organising events, food, having time with students and developers, the goodies, the after party and much much more, a lot of effort must have been taken for all this to happen. A big thanks to everyone who made this possible, the event staff, speakers and everyone else. It was really a special experience for me and probably for everyone who attended it.

Thanks Google and come back next year for GDDIndia2018…


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