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Google’s AI Wants To Do It All

Patent filings from Google reveal AI that could make anyone a UX designer or app developer – no experience necessary.

Photo via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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Google wants to make web development as simple as sending a text. 

The search giant is seeking to patent tech for creating a user interface using AI. Basically, this system trains machine learning models on user interfaces, graphical elements and natural language descriptions, so that the model can generate graphical user interfaces using textual descriptions that “describe the high-level design goal.” 

For example, if you tell the model you want it to create a login page with a certain amount of text boxes, pop-ups or buttons, the model can generate a mockup through just a basic description. The tech in Google’s patent essentially could allow anyone to do the basics of UX design with little to no training. 

“The conventional approaches of GUI development (are) time and resource consuming,” Google said in its filing. “Automation saves both time and resources when compared to existing techniques.”

Want to take it a step beyond UX? Google has a plan for that too. The company is seeking to patent a system for programming and publishing apps using natural language descriptions. Basically, a user writes a detailed description of the app’s function and the entities involved, which can then be translated into a “viable running app.” Google noted that this process can be “iterative and/or incremental,” meaning once you have an initial description, you can add more detail to flesh it out further and can publish the app at any point in the process. 

Another consideration: Google mentioned that this system isn’t limited to just app generation, and can be applied to a “wide variety of other software applications.” 

Google has been burning the candle at both ends on AI work, and it hasn’t necessarily been quiet about it. In March, the company announced major AI integrations throughout the Google Workspace suite, which includes automated email composition and document summarizing. It has also touted plans to enhance its flagship search engine with AI. Last week, Google merged its two major AI divisions, DeepMind and the Brain Team, into a single entity called Google DeepMind led by Demis Hassabis, as it gears up to “significantly accelerate” its AI progress. 

These patent filings give us a look at how Google may be thinking about its grand AI vision, and a peek at what might be next: A tool that can not only assist you with small tasks, but design and generate entire platforms for you. 

That said, Google has some competition, Jake Maymar, VP of Innovation at The Glimpse Group, told me. The company may be moving so quickly as a way to remain on top as competitors like Microsoft push ahead in the AI race. “With OpenAI, Microsoft and other companies entering the market, Google is now a little bit on shaky ground,” Maymar noted.

But let’s look away from the business of it all for a moment. Google patenting these web development tools underscores the most poignant question that the tech presents: Whether or not a machine can do the job of a human just as well as a human can.

If you’ve gone on LinkedIn at all over the past few months, you’ve probably seen at least one person post the phrase “AI will not take your job, but a person who uses AI will.” While this is likely true, the implications are potentially far greater than many realize, said Maymar: “Everyone will have to pivot. I don’t really think you’re going to have a choice.” 

“This is a watershed moment,” said Maymar. “AI is a new way of life, just like when computers were introduced. But AI is even more different from that because it moves at an exponential rate.” 

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