Was Google Glass Ahead of Its Time? Sergey Brin’s Take on Google’s New Astra AI     – CNET

Was Google Glass Ahead of Its Time? Sergey Brin’s Take on Google’s New Astra AI – CNET

Google co-founder Sergey Brin is no stranger to the company’s Google I/O developer conference. In 2012, he famously led a parachuted demo and introduction of Google Glass. While no such shenanigans took place on Tuesday, Brin did show up to the first day of the conference and interacted with reporters and attendees. 

“It’s funny, because it’s like the perfect hardware,” Brin told a gathering that included CNET after he walked into a demo of Google’s Project Astra AI software. “It’s like the killer app now, 10 years later.” 

Google demoed Project Astra alongside the announcement of a slew of new AI products at its annual conference that included updates to its Gemini AI model, revamps to search and ways AI can assist with everyday tasks like summarizing threads in Gmail.

Asked if Glass would be making a comeback, Brin said, “We’ll have to think about that.” But he acknowledged that when it comes to Astra, “hands-free is the idea.” He noted that companies have made AI clips and devices, likely a reference to the Humane AI Pin and Rabbit R1, but he said that a glasses “form factor was pretty cool,” and that he wishes he “had timed that a bit better.”

More from Google I/O 2024

He also added that “something wearable” is “more ideal hardware” than a phone for use cases like those shown in the Project Astra video. 

It was reported by The Wall Street Journal last year that Brin was back at the company he co-founded to work on Google’s AI products, which included Gemini, the model that Google touted heavily throughout Tuesday’s event. 

Google demoed Astra with experimental glasses in a video, but Brin said he didn’t know what that product was. “But there are now lots of companies and lots of displays out there that are pretty interesting, so we’ll see how people use them,” he said.

Brin noted that a lot of the demos that Google showed off were based on the same Gemini Pro 1.5 AI model, something he said he found “really exciting and that’s surprising even,” that “these AI models can be so general purpose right off the bat.”

In a wide-ranging conversation, Brin said he watched OpenAI’s ChatGPT 4o announcement, but that he didn’t yet have a chance to play with it. As for how AI fits into his life today, Brin says that he uses it “a lot for coding” and that using Gemini for that purpose is “kind of extraordinary.”

A phone looking at a computer monitor, interacting with an AI assistant with the camera

Google demonstrated Astra on a phone and also on camera-enabled glasses.


In a debate with a member of his team, a colleague asked how good AI would be at solving Sudoku puzzles. So Brin decided to put it to the test. “And I just said, ‘well, why don’t I see?’ And I actually had it write a piece of code to generate Sudoku puzzles, and then test the solutions.” 

Coding, in Brin’s view, is the “No. 1” use of AI today.

Sergey Brin at Google I/O 2024

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

“It wasn’t completely flawless,” he said, referring to using AI for coding. “But [there were] a couple of minor issues that I’d cleaned up right away. That was pretty amazing.” 

When it comes to AI hallucination, Brin says that it is a “big problem” but that it is “shrinking” and that he “wouldn’t be shocked if there were some significant advances that would really, you know, make orders-of-magnitude improvements.”

While he was retired, Brin seems to be reinvigorated by the opportunity to shape AI. “It’s just such an exciting time,” he said, noting that this is what brought him out of the brief retirement he entered prior to COVID. “With this AI boom… being a computer scientist like, I want to be a part of that. It’s just so exciting. And yeah, it’s a treat,” he said.

“I can’t imagine a better time to be a computer scientist, and I feel super lucky to be able to see the details of how these things work,” he said.

Editors’ note: CNET used an AI engine to help create several dozen stories, which are labeled accordingly. The note you’re reading is attached to articles that deal substantively with the topic of AI but are created entirely by our expert editors and writers. For more, see our AI policy.


Eli Blumenthal

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