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Machine Intelligence

Google is at the forefront of innovation in Machine Intelligence, with active research exploring virtually all aspects of machine learning, including deep learning and more classical algorithms. Exploring theory as well as application, much of our work on language, speech, translation, visual processing, ranking and prediction relies on Machine Intelligence. In all of those tasks and many others, we gather large volumes of direct or indirect evidence of relationships of interest, applying learning algorithms to understand and generalize.

Machine Intelligence at Google raises deep scientific and engineering challenges, allowing us to contribute to the broader academic research community through technical talks and publications in major conferences and journals. Contrary to much of current theory and practice, the statistics of the data we observe shifts rapidly, the features of interest change as well, and the volume of data often requires enormous computation capacity. When learning systems are placed at the core of interactive services in a fast changing and sometimes adversarial environment, combinations of techniques including deep learning and statistical models need to be combined with ideas from control and game theory.

Recent Publications

Preview abstract Browser fingerprinting is often associated with cross-site user tracking, a practice that many browsers (e.g., Safari, Brave, Edge, Firefox and Chrome) want to block. However, less is publicly known about its uses to enhance online safety, where it can provide an additional security layer against service abuses (e.g., in combination with CAPTCHAs) or during user authentication. To the best of our knowledge, no fingerprinting defenses deployed thus far consider this important distinction when blocking fingerprinting attempts, so they might negatively affect website functionality and security. To address this issue we make three main contributions. First, we propose and evaluate a novel machine learning-based method to automatically identify authentication pages (i.e. sign-in and sign-up pages). Our algorithm -- which relies on a hybrid unsupervised/supervised approach -- achieves 96-98% precision and recall on a large, manually-labelled dataset of 10,000 popular sites. Second, we compare our algorithm with other methods from prior works on the same dataset, showing that it significantly outperforms all of them (+83% F1-score). Third, we quantify the prevalence of fingerprinting scripts across sign-in and sign-up pages (9.2%) versus those executed on other pages (8.9%); while the rates of fingerprinting are similar, home pages and authentication pages differ in the third-party scripts they include and how often these scripts are labeled as tracking. We also highlight the substantial differences in fingerprinting behavior on login and sign-up pages. Our work sheds light on the complicated reality that fingerprinting is used to both protect user security and invade user privacy, and that this dual nature must be considered by fingerprinting mitigations. View details
Visual Grounding for User Interfaces
Yijun Qian
Yujie Lu
Alexander G. Hauptmann
2024 Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (NAACL 2024) - Industry Track
Preview abstract Enabling autonomous language agents to drive application user interfaces (UIs) as humans do can significantly expand the capability of today's API-based agents. Essential to this vision is the ability of agents to ground natural language commands to on-screen UI elements. Prior UI grounding approaches work by relaying on developer-provided UI metadata (UI trees, such as web DOM, and accessibility labels) to detect on-screen elements. However, such metadata is often unavailable or incomplete. Object detection techniques applied to UI screens remove this dependency, by inferring location and types of UI elements directly from the UI's visual appearance. The extracted semantics, however, are too limited to directly enable grounding. We overcome the limitations of both approaches by introducing the task of visual UI grounding, which unifies detection and grounding. A model takes as input a UI screenshot and a free-form language expression, and must identify the referenced UI element. We propose a solution to this problem, LVG, which learns UI element detection and grounding using a new technique called layout-guided contrastive learning, where the semantics of individual UI objects are learned also from their visual organization. Due to the scarcity of UI datasets, LVG integrates synthetic data in its training using multi-context learning. LVG outperforms baselines pre-trained on much larger datasets by over 4.9 points in top-1 accuracy, thus demonstrating its effectiveness. View details
Preview abstract Recently proposed long-form question answering (QA) systems, supported by large language models (LLMs), have shown promising capabilities. Yet, attributing and verifying their generated abstractive answers can be difficult, and automatically evaluating their accuracy remains an ongoing challenge. In this paper, we introduce a new QA task for answering multi-answer questions by summarizing multiple diverse sources in a semi-extractive fashion. Specifically, Semi-extractive Multi-source QA (SEMQA) requires models to output a comprehensive answer while mixing between factual quoted spans---copied verbatim from given input sources---and non-factual free-text connectors that glue these spans together into a single cohesive passage. This setting bridges the gap between the outputs of well-grounded but constrained extractive QA systems and more fluent but harder to attribute fully abstractive answers. Particularly, it enables a new mode for language models that leverages their advanced language generation capabilities, while also producing fine in-line attributions by-design that are easy to verify, interpret, and evaluate. To study this task, we create the first dataset of this kind with human-written semi-extractive answers to natural and generated questions, and define text-based evaluation metrics. Experimenting with several LLMs in various settings, we find this task to be surprisingly challenging, demonstrating the importance of our work for developing and studying such consolidation capabilities. View details
Preview abstract We focus on the problem of learning without forgetting from multiple tasks arriving sequentially, where each task is defined using a few-shot episode of novel or already seen classes. We approach this problem using the recently published HyperTransformer (HT), a Transformer-based hypernetwork that generates specialized task-specific CNN weights directly from the support set. In order to learn from a continual sequence of tasks, we propose to recursively re-use the generated weights as input to the HT for the next task. This way, the generated CNN weights themselves act as a representation of previously learned tasks, and the HT is trained to update these weights so that the new task can be learned without forgetting past tasks. This approach is different from most continual learning algorithms that typically rely on using replay buffers, weight regularization or task-dependent architectural changes. We demonstrate that our proposed Continual HyperTransformer method equipped with a prototypical loss is capable of learning and retaining knowledge about past tasks for a variety of scenarios, including learning from mini-batches, and task-incremental and class-incremental learning scenarios. View details
DORSal: Diffusion for Object-centric Representations of Scenes et al.
Allan Jabri
Emiel Hoogeboom
Thomas Kipf
International Conference on Learning Representations (2024)
Preview abstract Recent progress in 3D scene understanding enables scalable learning of representations across large datasets of diverse scenes. As a consequence, generalization to unseen scenes and objects, rendering novel views from just a single or a handful of input images, and controllable scene generation that supports editing, is now possible. However, training jointly on a large number of scenes typically compromises rendering quality when compared to single-scene optimized models such as NeRFs. In this paper, we leverage recent progress in diffusion models to equip 3D scene representation learning models with the ability to render high-fidelity novel views, while retaining benefits such as object-level scene editing to a large degree. In particular, we propose DORSal, which adapts a video diffusion architecture for 3D scene generation conditioned on frozen object-centric slot-based representations of scenes. On both complex synthetic multi-object scenes and on the real-world large-scale Street View dataset, we show that DORSal enables scalable neural rendering of 3D scenes with object-level editing and improves upon existing approaches. View details
Preview abstract Instruction tuning has emerged as the key in aligning large language models (LLMs) with specific task instructions, thereby mitigating the discrepancy between the next-token prediction objective and users' actual goals. To reduce the labor and time cost to collect or annotate data by humans, researchers start to explore the use of LLMs to generate instruction-aligned synthetic data. Recent works focus on generating diverse instructions and applying LLM to increase instruction complexity, often neglecting downstream use cases. It remains unclear how to tailor high-quality data to elicit better instruction-following abilities in different target instruction distributions and LLMs. To this end, we introduce CodecLM, a general framework for adaptively generating high-quality synthetic data for LLM alignment with different downstream instruction distributions and LLMs. Drawing on the Encode-Decode principles, we use LLMs as codecs to guide the data generation process. We first encode seed instructions into metadata, which are concise keywords generated on-the-fly to capture the target instruction distribution, and then decode metadata to create tailored instructions. We also introduce Self-Rubrics and Contrastive Filtering during decoding to tailor data-efficient samples. Extensive experiments on four open-domain instruction following benchmarks validate the effectiveness of CodecLM over the current state-of-the-arts. View details