Artificial intelligence front and center at Google I/O developer conference

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- Google's biggest event of the year kicked off Tuesday morning at the Shoreline Amphitheatre.

This year's I/O developer conference comes just two days before a White House summit on artificial intelligence -- and the announcements centered around how Google's technology is getting smarter.

Google's soft-spoken CEO Sundar Pichai took the storied stage at Shoreline as seven thousand app developers erupted into seven thousand screaming fans. Pichai began by announcing a bug fix:

"We got the cheese wrong in our burger emoji," he confessed, adding that he has little personal knowledge of the situation, since he's a vegetarian.

But after another nod to the team that fixed the floating foam on the beer emoji, the rest of the show was about artificial intelligence.

"I think the big story with AI is that we can use it as a tool to make our lives a lot better," said Google Photos product lead David Lieb.

Lieb showed us how the app now knows what you want before you ask.

"Google can understand that your friends are in the photo, and with one tap, share those photos with your friends," he said. "You come upon a photo that's too dark, in one tap, Google can recognize it and make that photo brighter."

The Google Assistant has new voices, which introduced themselves to the audience during the keynote.

"Good morning everyone," said one voice.

"I'm your Google Assistant," continued another voice.

There are also famous voices -- including one modeled after singer John Legend. AI makes them sound more human, and reduces the amount of time voice actors have to spend in the studio recording them. To show just how human the voices can be, Google had the Assistant make a phone call to an unsuspecting salon, to schedule a haircut.

"I'm looking for something on May 3rd," the virtual voice said.

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"Sure, give me one second," said the salon receptionist.

"Mm-hmm," said the Google Assistant as it waited.

CNET's Scott Stein had thoughts about the demonstration.

"I thought it was really creepy," he said. "And I think that was the general tone that a lot of people had. The first question you have is, why are you placing robo-calls to other people who aren't in on it?"

Of course, another major place artificial intelligence could impact our lives is on the road. Google's self-driving car unit, which is now Waymo, made a surprise appearance to talk about it.

"We're not just building a better car. We're building a better driver," said Waymo CEO John Krafcik.

We last saw Krafcik and Waymo CTO Dmitri Dolgov when they appeared in court to testify during the company's intellectual property battle with Uber. Now, after Uber's fatal crash, Waymo says its own AI won't hit pedestrians -- even if they're in disguise.

"We have pedestrians who are dressed in inflatable dinosaur costumes," he said, showing an image grabbed from the car's cameras. "We haven't taught our cars about the jurassic period, but we can still classify them correctly."

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