Google Software Developer Speaks at St. Clair College | St. Clair College
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Shaun Dass, Don Ward and Josh Gordon
From left to right: Shaun Dass, IT instructor at St. Clair College, Don Ward, head of the Google Developers Group for Windsor-Detroit, Josh Gordon, Google software developer.

Google software developer Josh Gordon was the guest speaker Tuesday night at St. Clair College, where students from Data Analytics got a first-hand look at software used by the tech giant in the development of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Gordon said Machine Learning has grown into an “enormous field” that has applications in virtually every area, including health sciences, business and the arts.

It is the study of programming with data. “You can think of it as programming with statistics or pattern recognition, applied to data to find useful insights.”

Machine Learning, for example, helped Google resolve the issue of spam on its ubiquitous email service, Gmail.

“You’ll notice you don’t get much spam anymore,” Gordon said.

That’s because Machine Learning allowed Google to collect enough data that placed certain words in spam and non-spam folders.

“You just count the words in spam emails and you can find out the top frequent words in spam emails is going to be like pharmacy, Viagra, buy, gold. And the most common words in non-spam emails are going to be mom, dad, birthday – something like that.

“So when you get a new email, you just compare the words. That’s Machine Learning.”

Gordon’s discussion focused on Machine Learning software known as TensorFlow, which is endorsed and used by Google globally to train and run all of its own Artificial Intelligence. The students received a primer on how to develop Machine Learning using TensorFlow software.

Shaun Dass, a sessional instructor in IT, said Gordon’s lecture was one of many IT events at the college, which offers a data analytics program at its downtown campus. “We have Machine Learning, AI, and a whole host of data science courses.”

Dass said the job prospects for students in the field are “really good…They are hiring students with very little experience into high paying jobs. It can be very lucrative. It’s not only Google hiring for AI positions, but we have AI positions across the river at Quicken Loans, GM, Ford, Chrysler.”

Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a “smart” way and Machine Learning is a current application of AI based around the idea that machines can learn for themselves if they’re given access to data.

Don Ward, the head of Google Developers Group (GDG) of Windsor and Detroit, approached St. Clair College to host the event when he heard Gordon was going to be in the Ann Arbor, Mich. area. He said learning from someone like Gordon, who’s an expert in A.I. and Machine learning with over 10 years of experience in the field, is a terrific opportunity for students.

“Google Search is powered by Machine Learning. The Auto Suggest on your phone is powered by Machine Learning,” Ward said. “Right now with Machine Learning there’s so much demand, they can’t hire enough people quick enough.”