India’s spoken search queries are nearly 10X higher than countries such as the US, where the ratio is only around 3-4% of total searches
India would see more diversification in search queries from multiple modalities, including text, voice and image: Google SVP Prabhakar Raghavan
Currently, the tech giant’s focus is not only on pure Indic languages but also dialects such as Hinglish – a mix of pure and written languages
Nearly a third of search queries originating from India are spoken, as Indians tend to be more comfortable talking rather than typing and searching for answers, said a top Google executive.
“In India, about a third of our search queries are spoken. That is in contrast to like three or 4% in the US. So, it’s a 10x increase. That is because people here are culturally really comfortable pulling out the phone and talking to it,” senior vice president of Google Prabhakar Raghavan said in an interaction with ET.
Raghavan added that India would see more diversification in Google search queries from multiple modalities, including text, voice and image.
The Google executive noted that India is growing at a fairly significant pace, adding that the next big startup from India could be one catering to the needs of Indian users.
The tech giant has developed several India-focussed products, including Google Pay and several Google Maps features such as offline maps, flood forecast warnings and directions for two-wheelers. These products have also found use cases in other geographies. These products have also come to dominate the Indian market. For instance, Google Pay has been among the top three UPI payment apps in the country.
“We have fascinating new opportunities in building better Indic language models because the data sparsity is different. We are trying to develop better resources to train across languages,” Raghavan told ET.
Currently, the tech giant’s focus is not only on pure Indic languages but also dialects such as Hinglish – a mix of pure and written languages.
According to Raghavan, training mixed language models alongside pure language models was also crucial to decode search queries from India, as search queries shifted from traditional text and image to a combination of voice and image or just voice.
Google’s Views On Generative AI
Terming the demands for a pause in AI development as ‘uncalled for’, Raghavan said the rules to govern AI should be based on science and a deep understanding of the subject, voicing his opposition to calls for a blanket ban on the technology, which has risen to superstar status recently.
Though Google has implemented ample use cases for its generative AI and derived models, Raghavan believes that a pause in the development of the technology was uncalled for right now.
Raghavan responded to a query on the calls led by Elon Musk to pause AI development for at least six months. The Google executive said many prominent scientists understand what these things do and don’t do. “My suggestion would be to engage them and try to get from them exactly what they are thinking of,” Raghavan added.
Raghavan added AI regulations must balance innovation and its potential to uplift economies like India, adding that the country remains one of the two priority markets for Google.