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商业 - 科技

Facebook Scale大会四大看点

Jonathan Vanian 2017年09月07日

此次大会上的有些发言听起来简直就像科幻小说。

Facebook上上周四召开的工程大会涉及了很多方面的内容。

首先,Facebook介绍了它怎样对其社交网络的基础软件进行了升级。同时,谷歌和微软也分别展示了自己在机器学习等热门领域的进步。

此次大会是在加州西部城市圣何塞举办的。会上的有些发言听起来简直就像科幻小说——比如DNA能够成为数据的储存介质。当然,会上也讨论了一些离现实生活更近的问题,比如如何促进科技界的多元化等等。在Uber等硅谷企业频频爆出性别歧视和性骚扰丑闻的背景下,后一类话题显然也是很有意义的。

以下就是此次Facebook Scale大会上的部分精彩看点。

1.DNA或成为数据储存介质

DNA除了承载着人类的全部遗传信息,它说不定还能用于另一个用途。

华盛顿大学计算机科学教授、微软研究员路易斯·塞兹介绍了科学家们对DNA作为数据存储介质的可能性研究。专家认为DNA可以储存大量数据,其容量甚至超过了现在的旋转盘或闪存技术。

塞兹表示,华盛顿大学和微软已经成功地将音乐短片、《人权宣言》和古腾堡工程的文学作品存储进了人工合成的DNA。DNA相比传统存储介质具有永不过时的优点,不会像20年前的软盘一样被扔进历史的垃圾堆里。

不过科研人员在这方面要做的工作还有很多。目前,从DNA传输10兆的数据大约需要一周的时间,大致跟上世纪70年代的调制解调器的速度差不多。

2.Netflix背后的强大计算能力

每天都有几百万人在视频网站Netflix上观看《纸牌屋》和《超胆侠》等美剧。所以网站必须要有强大的计算能力,才能确保视频不卡顿或崩溃。

Netflix高级软件工程师弗兰克·圣米格尔表示,Netflix的流媒体视频服务有亚马逊数据中心里的30万个CPU支持。这些服务器不仅负责播放视频,也负责支持视频处理、字幕和后期制作等上百个应用程序。

3.谷歌翻译或成“下一个大事件”

谷歌对运用人工智能翻译技术有着极为浓厚的兴趣。谷歌负责机器学习和语言翻译业务的高管巴拉克·图洛夫斯基表示,95%的谷歌翻译用户都在美国以外。该服务最大的用户群反而是巴西、印度、泰国和印尼人。

谷歌翻译为何如此流行呢?首先是因为互联网上有一半的内容都是用英文写成的。随着发展中国家智能手机愈发普及,无线基础设施日益完善,非英语国家的网民越来越多,很多人都存在借助谷歌翻译阅读网络内容的需求。

图洛夫斯基:“比如印度有大量人口只会说本地语言,但是网络上却找不到用本地语言创作的内容。”

4.Nest和Slack高管谈招聘与职场多元化

虽然此次大会的焦点是高科技,不过职场即时通讯服务Slack和谷歌的家居自动化业化Nest等公司的高管还是谈到了在招聘员工上的挑战。毕竟没有一支精干的员工队伍,你是做不出任何技术的。

Slack的基础建设工艺总监朱丽亚·格雷斯谈到了职场多元化问题。她举例道,如果一名求职者走进面试现场,发现整间屋子坐着的都是同一个性别、同一个民族或是具有其他相同特征的人,那么他们可能会担心,自己能不能在这样一家公司获得成功。

格雷斯向听众问道:“如果你在公司里永远见不到跟自己相似的人,你是什么感觉?那么从入职第一天起,你就会问自己:‘我真的属于这里吗?我能在这里获得成功吗?’”

Nest公司电子商务与网络安全高级总监朱莉·珀尔表示,Nest的科技产品是面向普通消费者的,所以公司必须确保它生产的联网恒温器等家居产品能够适应来自各种背景的消费者。因此,Nest要想推出被更多人接受的产品,就要需要更多来自不同文化背景的员工。

珀尔表示:“我们在招聘中会强调某种形式的多元化。现在我正在认真思考,如何将它体现在我们所构建的产品中。”(财富中文网)

译者:贾政景

Facebook's latest engineering conference for techies on Thursday covered a lot of ground.

Facebook described how it overhauled the underlying software for its social network. Meanwhile, Google and Microsoft revealed their latest advancements in hot areas of data crunching involving artificial intelligence technologies like machine learning.

Some of the discussions at the event, held in San Jose, seemed like science fiction such as storing digital data in DNA. Other topics like the problems of diversity in tech were more practical amid recent discrimination and harassment allegations in Silicon Valley at companies like Uber.

Here's a roundup of some of the most fascinating items from Facebook's Scale conference.

1. Storage drives of the future may be built with DNA

It turns out there may be another use for DNA besides serving as blueprints for humans.

University of Washington computer science professor and Microsoft researcher Luis Ceze discussed how experts are looking into how DNA could be used to store huge amounts of digital data, more so than any current technology like spinning discs or flash drives.

Ceze explained the progress his university and Microsoft (msft, +1.04%) have made in storing things like music videos, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and literature from the Project Gutenberg archive initiative into manufactured DNA. Some of DNA’s advantages over conventional storage are that it won’t become obsolete, like the old floppy discs of the past, he said.

However, researchers have a lot more work to do. As of now, it takes about a week to transfer 10 megabits of data from DNA, which Ceze said is the equivalent of the speed of old modems from the 1970’s.

2. It takes a lot of computing power to make Netflix run

Millions of people visit Netflix (nflx, -0.14%) daily to binge watch House of Cards and Daredevil. But it takes a lot of computing power to make sure that those videos don’t stutter or crash.

Netflix senior software engineer Frank San Miguel said that on a “good day,” the video streaming service is powered by roughly 300,000 CPUs running in Amazon’s data centers. Those thousands of servers are not only responsible for delivering video to people, but they also power the 100 apps Netflix built that handle tasks like audio processing, subtitles, and other post-production services.

3. Google’s big efforts to translate languages

Google’s interest in using artificial intelligence to quickly translate languages became clearer. Barak Turovsky, a Google (goog, +1.02%) executive overseeing machine learning and language translation, said that 95% of people using Google to translate text are not based in the U.S. In fact, residents in Brazil, India, Thailand, and Indonesia are the biggest users.

One reason for its popularity overseas is that half of all Internet content is written in English, Turovsky said, a consequence of the English-speaking world being able to afford the computers to access the Internet. But the rise of smartphones and increasingly improved wireless infrastructure in developing countries has led to non-English speakers getting online—and needing to use Google’s translation service to read online content.

“There’s a huge population of people who speak Indian languages, but they can’t find content created in their language,” Turovsky said.

4. Nest and Slack executives talk hiring and diversity

Although Facebook's conference focused on cutting-edge technology, several executives from companies like workplace messaging service Slack and Google’s Nest home automation business talked about the challenges of hiring workers. You can’t build technology without a savvy workforce, after all.

Julia Grace, Slack’s head of infrastructure engineering, discussed the problems companies with diversity problems (ie. most tech companies) face when recruiting. For instance, if someone walks into a job interview and only sees people who look the same in terms of gender and ethnicity or some other characteristic, they may question their chances of succeeding at the company.

“What happens if you never see anyone who looks like you?” Grace asked the audience of techies. “You, from day one, will ask ‘do I belong here? Can I be successful here?’”

Nest senior director of e-commerce and security Julie Pearl explained that because Nest builds technology for everyday consumers, it must also ensure that those web-connected thermostats and other gadgets are built to accommodate people from diverse backgrounds. For this, Nest needs more workers with different cultural backgrounds to build its products, she explained.

“We talk about certain types of diversity with hiring,” said Pearl. “Now I’m really starting to think about how does that come out in the products that we are building.”

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