This was a critical part of building the company's Google Maps service. Knowing the precise address of a building is really helpful information for mapmakers. But that didn't make life any easier for those poor Googlers who had to figure out whether a string of numbers captured by Google's roving Street View cars was a phone number, a graffiti tag, or a legitimate address.
Then, a few months ago, they were relieved of their agony, after some Google engineers trained the company's machines to handle this thankless task. Traditionally, computers have muffed this advanced kind of image recognition, and Google finally cracked the problem with its new artificial intelligence system, known as Google Brain. With Brain, Google can now transcribe all of the addresses that Street View has captured in France in less than an hour.