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Google’s I/O Conference Offers Modest Vision of the Future


SAN FRANCISCO — There was a time when Google offered a wondrous vision of the future, with driverless cars, augmented-reality eyewear, unlimited storage of emails and photos, and predictive texts to complete sentences in progress.

A more modest Google was on display on Wednesday as the company kicked off its annual developer’s conference. The Google of 2022 is more pragmatic and sensible — a bit more like its business-focused competitors at Microsoft than a fantasy play land for tech enthusiasts.

And that, by all appearances, is by design. The bold vision is still out there — but it’s a ways away. The professional executives who now run Google are increasingly focused on wringing money out of those years of spending on research and development.

The company’s biggest bet in artificial intelligence does not, at least for now, mean science fiction come to life. It means more subtle changes to existing products.

“A.I. is improving our products,…

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