YaC 2021: Чем живёт Яндекс
Good morning, I could say. But it’s 7 o’clock now It’s saturday So tired, it was a hard week I'm on my way to do the filming for YAC So that everyone would know what it is that this huge team of mine and I are doing To be honest, I love being on screen I don't have my script So, this is the dressing room This is my first time filming for YaC, I’m thrilled, so exciting Anticipation of, you know, such a creative atmosphere This is YaC 2021 We’re going to talk about the key moments of 2021 for Yandex including neural networks, smart devices, self-driving cars, e-commerce, and media consumption As Yandex has been impacting the lives of so many people the company’s directors will share their achievements this year while the Deputy CEO of Yandex, Tigran Khudaverdyan, will speak about the growth of Yandex’s business and the responsibility that comes with it Get ready This conversation is going to be just as big as Yandex Have you been working at Yandex since 2006? Yes When was the last time you felt incompetent at work? Oh, I feel incompetent on a daily basis, in principle. About every day Why? Well, first and foremost, because there are things that I genuinely don’t get, to be honest I don't get TikTok, for example I mean, well, it depends... For example, you can say to yourself:
"Nah, I would never have thought of that" And that’s okay, oh well... here’re a lot of things you wouldn’t be able to come up with But it’s a different story when someone has already come up with something and you cannot understand why it has a potential to become a systemic platform in the future I mean, of course, you can understand why it’s fun and cool and everybody loves it Take YouTube, which transformed from a place where you went to look at kittens into a platform where people can watch stuff like… for example, yours Right Well, it wasn’t easy, was it? You wouldn’t show what you’re doing next to the kittens ten years ago, would you? I wouldn’t even start thinking of that it was incomprehensible So, I cannot get my head around TikTok now That’s when I feel absolutely incompetent Talking about TikTok. Do you believe that age is an issue in IT? It might be an issue, but I don’t think I’ll ever find out I believe that, talking about new things, of course, risk taking dulls down with age Even with the most daring risk takers What was the biggest risk you took this year? Well, the biggest risk that Yandex is taking today, objectively, is our investment in e-commerce Huge investments in infrastructure that need to be made Support warehouses, sorting centers, logistics, couriers, automation of packaging and delivery, and much more And this change is for the years to come, because it's just the beginning, in a way I mean, there is still a huge growth potential, and this growth is what everyone is competing for As a consumer, I can’t help but notice that Yandex has occupied almost every aspect of my life Just off the top of my head, that’s Yandex .Navigator, Yandex .Market, Yandex .Taxi, Alice, Yandex .Music, Kinop.... It’s everywhere Do you even realize the scale? Does it scare you at all? The question we’ve asked ourselves for years is: what is it that we shouldn’t do? Because we have the good fortune to be in this space. At any given moment, there are tens, hundreds of opportunities and I want to grab them all by the horns Well, what have you decided against? Where did you...slap yourself on the wrist and decide not to go? I think there are lots of examples To take one of the bigger ones, look at game development The gaming industry is huge, and our friends over at Mail, for instance, have gone heavy into it We haven’t. We don’t have the expertise to develop games
and we didn’t feel like…didn’t think...didn’t think we could pull it off But from a business point of view, what’s the point of having such a huge ecosystem? Just looking to make more money or what? It’s always a plus when you have independent businesses that can come up with something new, flying ahead under their own power Yandex is an example of a company that generates enough power to fly onward to ever more distant galaxies Okay, Tigran invited me to go for a ride this morning. Shall we? Let’s do it Wait, who’s going to drive us? We’re at a test site where lots of self-driving cars drive around twenty-four hours a day I just noticed that none of them has a driver Yes, they’re all self-driving. Just going on their own Amazing until they wear out, basically From a tech point of view. What we’re trying to do is make sure
hey can drive by themselves without anything happening, without them getting into anything they shouldn’t I feel like I’m in a sci-fi movie, something post-apocalyptic Yep with no people, just cars without drivers. I mean, I’ve already tried self-driving cars, only there was always someone there That’s because we were in the city, right? That’s the next level. When you can get rid of the pilot as well as the Insurance policy? The driver in the passenger seat. That’s not allowed anywhere yet Are there countries with taxis like this already driving around? Or just regular cars? here are basically three countries where self-driving cars are being actively tested I mean, on the level of hundreds of cars. That’s Russia, the US, and China Got it You can count on one hand the number of companies developing self-driving cars, and we’re one of them SELF-DRIVING TECHNOLOGY Ever since the project got started four years ago, back when we started work on the tech, when we came up with our first prototypes that was when we started talking about how we have them driving around in a closed space How can we let them out onto the street? If we’re developing technology somewhere in a test space, we’re really just fooling ourselves The actual world around us, out there on public roads, is incredibly complex Even though there are rules, something’s always going on There’s something new, something unpredictable happening every day. It would be impossible to sit back and program everything
SELF-DRIVING TAXIS We’re at a point in time where we’re ready to make the technology available as a service within these circumstances For our pilot testing groundspace, where we’re planning on doing that, we picked Yasenevo It’s more or less isolated, and the road infrastructure is pretty solid We’re in Yasenevo. We’re going to try ordering one of the cars and take a ride opting for a self-driving car setting the starting point here by the metro station Next, I choose where I want to go. For example, we’re going to Rokotva 7, building 2. Ordering a self-driving car And there’s our car Welcome to Yandex self-driving taxi. Please buckle up. When you’re ready to go, tap the button on the screen This is only available to company employees for now In other words, people who are visiting or live in Yasenevo can order a car in the Yandex.Taxi app
and a self-driving car will show up There will be an engineer for now. But the ride will still be fully autonomous Here we have a situation where there’s somebody crossing the road right there We’re stopping at the pedestrian crosswalk and waiting for them to get to the other side Here on the tablet, there’s an indication of what’s going on: the crosswalk, the pedestrian At the top of the screen, we show passengers what the self-driving car is doing at the moment We’re almost there. Don’t forget to take your belongings with you and make sure you close the door after leaving the car thank you for choosing a Yandex self-driving taxi The number of taxi drivers in the country, people driving taxis, is on par with the Russian army In 2019, there were 700,000 taxi drivers and 800,000 soldiers in the army I think there are actually more taxi drivers since not all of them are online So you’re launching self-driving cars Yes What’s going to happen to that army of taxi drivers? I don’t think robotics will come close to meeting the demand in the next, say, two or even three years In reality, we’re not talking about anyone losing their job yet The demand for couriers and drivers is growing multiple times over every year But let’s say you launch self-driving cars tomorrow. What then?
They will cover...start to cover part of the demand Most likely, without self-driving vehicles, both as taxis and rovers making deliveries without automation and robotization, the industries will drown in the demand One important thing to understand is the myth that new technology destroys jobs or something. That’s an exaggeration If you look, for example, at the long-distance trucking market in the US, what’s the problem? They don’t have enough drivers. I mean, right now they don’t So what will happen when new technology emerges? It will meet that surplus demand, covering don’t know, certain areas within cities or particular routes Little by little, self-driving vehicles will take over, and what will happen then? Nobody will lose their job. There will just be a transition
Getting a job as a driver won’t look like such a good deal, and that’s that The same thing happened when people stopped going into a career as a coachman. Nobody actually suffered, and humanity as a whole came out ahead LiDAR Look, this is our LiDAR lab. Where we work on LiDAR Why are you red, and I’m orange? It has to do with the distance. The farther away, the greener; the closer, the redder. Red means danger What do you need this for? What’s the point? LiDAR is the most important sensor in self-driving technology Back when self-driving technology was getting started, just a few years ago, these cost a hundred thousand dollars One LiDAR spinning around with pretty poor resolution. Three years ago, we decided to make our own LiDAR for two reasons First, we wanted to make it as cheap as possible so For yourselves For ourselves. And second, we want more precise control than generally available LiDAR gives you That lets us see objects more clearly from farther away. Most our cars now use our LiDAR
TOMORROW? We’re not following the beaten path, not trying to do the same thing that’s been done before We’re coming up with algorithms and a system that have never existed before And that means we don’t have textbooks we can read to see what to do. Self-driving cars won’t happen overnight It’s not like it’s so integrated into our lives that we’ll wake up one day only to find self-driving cars or self-driving taxis all over the place It’s a gradual process If you stick a camera in a self-driving car and point it at the passenger, and then have letting a ton of people drive around, what you’ll see most frequently is that they have their phone out in the back seat taking a video of the steering wheel Oooh! What? People need to get used to it, for it to become normal ROVER We’re in the calibration room. When you’re putting together a self-driving vehicle whether it’s a rover or car, it has a bunch of sensors, cameras, LiDAR, and so on All that has to be synchronized The vehicle scans all those little squares, all of them at different angles After that, it compares the pictures, for example, from two cameras. See? It grabbed different pictures, and it’s trying to use two cameras to figure out what angle they’re at to each other Okay, so it has “Yandex” written on it in English. Is that thing going to the US? That thing will probably be headed to the US, Israel, or another country where they don’t speak Russian Really, this project is completely international in scope We launched it on our first university campus, over at The Ohio State University There are almost 100 of these rovers delivering food every day there ROVERS IN OHIO Two years ago, if you’d told someone on the street that there’s a city or campus where all food deliveries are made using robots well, they would have laughed or told you...basically, they wouldn’t have believed you
And so it’s really amazing from that point of view First of all, there are lots of students there They pull all kinds of tricks with the robots: they ride on them, sometimes flip them over They like to see if the robots can go around them as an obstacle, all of that I mean, if you see a Yandex courier outside, you’re not going to jump in front of them to see if they’ll go around you, right? But they do that with robots They’re not just toys though. People really use them, and they really work The second important aspect is that it’s a commercial project Oh, there it is: unlock The happy recipient of food from a rover So when did you even have the idea of taking the insides of a car and sticking them into such a cute little thingy? I’m not sure when it was, though I do remember the first video Dmitry Polishchuk sent me, asking me to check out what they put together They’d stuck some wheels on a board and taught it to drive After they had fun making something that ran by itself, we realized that rovers could help the whole delivery industry This is something that never fails to amaze me Well, look, you as a company provide the money the developers sit there, you say you want a board with wheels, a little casket on wheels, and then you figure out what to do with it That’s why it’s called a design office. They invent things here, and you can’t just ask them to invent what you want, right? I thought, you know, there’s a need. We don’t have enough couriers So let’s come up with something that will stand in for them That’s later, after everything’s said and done They write in the books that the strategy worked like that, only it’s the other way around in reality Inventions are random, and you find a use for them later SMART DEVICES This room is where the engineers work on Yandex.Station, our TVs. Let me show you how it works
Here’s the Mini 2, our Station, the one we just launched. It has a clock Actually, the clock is what’s most important for all household appliances. The rest is negligible. Yes, this is the first prototype It’s Alice undressed This is the first, the first Station, made more than a year ago. Basically, it was made using a 3D printer to see how that works We launched three devices this year: Light, Mini (the updated version), and Yandex.Module We’re expanding our product range to make sure people have choices Yandex Light was designed for children, made without fabric so it can be used in the kids’ room A kid could, I don’t know, paint it with gouache to give it a personalized flair Mini is closer to the classic version, so the sound is better, and it comes with additional functionality like...like the display, the clock We came up with Yandex.Module because we have a vision for how
or how video content consumption will develop, not just audio consumption, but also video viewing Sales have already passed two million devices That’s if we count all our Stations and the TVs where Alice is, the ones with Alice Tigran, I just have one question for you Yes? When is Yandex going to be in my iron? In your iron? In everyone’s iron If there’s a way for irons to make life better than they make it now, we’ll figure it out. It’s a pretty natural story there Think about voice recognition technology People, well, say, adults, kids, they don’t know how, can’t type on a keyboard, don’t know the letters yet For example, adding Alice to their TV means they can watch any movie they want to. In other words, there are the basic, you know 10-20 channels that everyone’s used to flipping between Someone who’s older will want to watch a particular movie, they don’t know how to look for it and their vision isn’t that great, so they can’t see the keyboard This way, they can just say, “Play my movie.”
And the tech is so simple that it doesn’t have to be connected to Yandex That’s why we’re involved in this project Not just because we want to be in every iron. If we need to add something similar to irons, we’ll add it to irons You start by making a new device, and then you have to scale it There aren’t many companies in the Russian market that can push manufacturing to this level and that’s experience you pick up as you go along So we’re always worried about quality. Basically, the more functionality tests, the better They put our minds at ease Welcome to our lab. This is where we test out different smart devices The word “Alice” is coming at us from the central monitor, and there’s white noise coming out of the ones on either side Twelve more hours to go We have to do something quickly about the prototype. It isn’t stable enough. A cat could knock it over
Nah, dude, it’s bullcr*p, you need to do it again There you go, you can really see it here… what we’re getting now is 14 for the old one, and 17 new You can see where the Smart Home Team is in the office right from the street. Just look up to that window with the lights on Done I think she’ll do it … she must start Alice, let down the blinds I don’t have any That’s where Alice actually lives Alice, what time is it? Alice, say ‘half two’ I’d rather say 518 Why is she not saying it again?! Because she knows she will hear ‘f**k you’ from you PREMIER We would like to announce a new device, a second-gen station in…with a new design The second-gen station will launch in the first half of next year. For this product, we bet on even better-quality sound I mean, it sounds better than the first-gen station. We equipped it with two broadband speakers and two passive radiators
In total, the speaker boasts 35 watts, with 360-degree sound, actually 360 degrees The number of microphones built… There are four of them We even made a special screen, it’s called aperiodic The structure is aperiodic since a symmetrical screen would actually cost you some frequencies They’re just lost. Aperiodic screens get rid of that problem SMART HOMES For this generation, we focused on smart homes even more We decided to go with more advanced protocols so we can skip an internet connection There’s the Zigbee protocol, and Matter is coming up to replace it Our devices support both protocols: Zigbee and Matter Zigbee is the most popular and widespread wireless protocol for smart home devices Matter is a promising young standard designed to bring devices from all different manufacturers into a single ecosystem What happens, what’s the magic? I buy a device, be it Zigbee or Matter, I buy a second-generation Station I plug it in, and the connection just happens. The Station will control all the devices in...in the house without an internet connection My apartment is smart, and I spend time programming it sometimes Okay, so what can your home do? Different things. In the morning, the light turns on depending on how much is coming in from outside, the time of year, the temperature It’s all pretty simple in reality, and it’s nothing you absolutely have to have, but So you do all that on your computer or what? Yes And then it all…? Yep, and everyone at home walks around yelling at me “Why isn’t the light in the bathroom working?” SMART HOME APP We’re developing a standalone app that’s easier to access and has widgets so you don’t even have to open it You just...look at your phone, see the main screen, and automate it however you want
QUIET, PLEASE One problem all household devices have in common is that there are other people in the home Yep It’s not just you and Alice, after all, since there could also be sleeping children. And we just recently taught Alice to understand whispers Also, something that was much harder, we taught her to speak in a whisper And I think that’s… Here, we can try it out on this thing Alice, whisper something We can just chat. Say, “Alice, let’s chat.” There. She answered in a whisper Alice, can you hear me? What’s up, butter cup? as one gardener said when he set up his smart speaker ALICE Imagine how many hours we needed the voice actor to talk so we could create Alice’s voice And now imagine what it would have taken for us to teach her how to whisper the same way Yep… They would have had to whisper the same number of hours. But that was out of the question It’s just unreal.… Everyone would get tired
Not even voice actors can whisper that much, so we had to...had to come up with something different We needed to invent a way for Alice to transform everything she knows about how sounds and words are made into a whisper So we ended up making a special neural network transformer that recognizes different tonalities different ways of placing emphasis, and different emotions that unlocked new abilities for Alice in action ALICE, MORE HUMAN THAN EVER Whispering is actually pretty cool by itself. But there was one thing that was really...well, I think it was a real breakthrough Let’s say Alice takes the same voice she uses to talk with you and reads a book. Well, that would be boring It’s too...too monotone for that
Instead, we trained her a voice she can use to read books So if you get an ebook, download it as an epub file right in the Yandex app, you’ll see a Read button And there is such a reading voice there that I can listen to a few dozen pages while I’m on my way driving to work, in the car nd it isn’t at all boring. That was a breakthrough. She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it), and sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes PERSONAL ASSISTANT When I made my documentary on artificial intelligence, IT scientists told me that personal assistants are the future. What do you think? I think if we go back, we had information search then We’re now seeing that space expanded. On the one hand, people want to interact with the information in a natural language that’s why we have Alice. Alice isn’t just about recognizing what I said; it’s also about understanding what I actually meant
it’s also about the dialog. When you’re using a search engine, you are trying to formulate your query very precisely you are trying to use the computer’s language. You’re trying to write... Yeah, store nylons buy Basically, yes. You talk the way you think a robot will understand you But here you have dialog, and there are actually lots of cases where it’s impossible to ask Nylons buy is simple enough, but sometimes you don’t even know what you want Will it be like in the movie Her? Was it something about emerging emotions, right? Yes It most likely won’t be emotions. Most likely the robot will always stay in the rational space Well, this is ridiculous, of course Obviously, robots and Alice will learn about how feelings and emotions Even now, Alice can be more empathetic for lots of people than some friends or acquaintances Someone sent me a message that was so touching It said, “I was taking the train, and there was someone in the next cabin over singing along to Alice the whole night He was telling her about his life, and she was encouraging him.” He just connected her, shared his Wi-Fi hotspot, sat there, and chatted with her in his train cabin Just try telling me that Alice doesn’t have feelings WHAT ALICE IS MADE OF Alice is built on three components. She has access to all the knowledge in the world thanks to the search engine and translator
The second thing at her core is, well, kind of sensory organs. She can hear, she can talk, she can see For example, the Yandex app has a smart camera you can point at, let’s say, a Station Mini, and Alice will recognize it Let’s use the smart camera to see which breed this dog is. Wait. Okay. And let’s also...let’s take a look at that. See? Doggie suits The third important thing Alice has is her memory and something that can understands the meaning That’s the most important component when it comes to Alice moving from just being a tool just something you use, to something that really helps to solve problems That makes her actually smart. One thing she can do in terms of using her visual memory and concept understanding for example, is chatting Anyone can ask her how she’s doing, talk about what they’re up to, and she’ll keep up her end of the conversation Sure, she can’t pick up on deep patterns, but she’s learning more all the time And this ability isn’t just for fun. It’s something that enables, well, some kind of a co-authorship The assistant’s role is now more defined You don’t have to give her the same context over and over When Alice knows what you like, what you don’t like, she can make recommendations based on that information A little birdie told me the first word one of your sons said was Alice. Is that true?
When… That was my fifth son, and he was… He’s a year and a half now. His first word was “Alice.” It was so funny. Actually, he was frustrated that he was the only one the Station didn’t respond to since everyone else walked by and talked to Alice, his older brother included, all except him after about two weeks, he got Alice to respond to him She started answering. Interestingly enough, it was four whole months later that he started saying “mama.” FAIRY TALES WITH ALICE All the parents we know who have Stations say they’re the best thing they’ve ever bought It’s important for kids to be able to dream, to build their own myths, to understand what’s going on with them and how to be able to create situations and understand how to interact in them, to see how people or other characters respond And kids can now do that with Alice All they have to say is, “Alice, let’s make a fairy tale.” But Alice doesn’t just...doesn’t take you along a template You can add new characters to the fairy tale, say what they’re doing. And Alice takes that information and builds a storyline That’s co-authorship TRANSLATING VIDEOS At the end of the summer, we launched something that... something I think all my friends wrote to me about: video translation
In some ways, it’s an obvious idea… Language recognition is already there it would seem. When you’re translating from English to Russian, the quality is already great Sure, in reality you have to recognize, and then understand if it’s a boy or girl talking since Oh, is it matching the voice? it even understands… There’s biometric technology that identifies gender After that, you have to translate. Then there’s a more complicated job: getting the timing right The technology right now accelerates or slows down the voice to make sure it matches the timing These days, that’s pretty, well, out of this world, since you can pull up any YouTube video even something like American rap, and listen to it in Russian, and finally even understand what it’s all about It’s incredible. You find a YouTube video in English, of course using Yandex Browser, and a Translate button will pop up
When you tap it, the sound comes through in real time, and you can hear the people I don’t know, actors or whoever else, speaking in your native Russian. And you can understand everything You just tap the Translate button There we go SUPERCOMPUTERS Lots of people aren’t aware that even just teaching Alice how to talk meant building what you might call a supercomputer It’s this gigantic machine that can perform a ton of operations to find patterns in language. What is YaLM? YaLM is a family of generative neural networks that write texts on their own in Russian, sometimes just as well as a human might YaLM models are trained using several terabytes of text from all over the Russian-language internet This is the most advanced language model for the Russian language known to the world, and it’s trained using lots and lots of textual information It learns all those patterns, how words are used and in what context, and what they mean And that’s why we need bigger servers, data centers, and our own supercomputer Our top cluster was named after a Yandex team member One of the people who created the machine learning algorithm and one of the most outstanding Russian scientists in machine learning, Alexey Chervonenkis There are lots of interesting engineering and tech methodologies we used to make the whole thing work And the only yardstick we have for...for supercomputers is these petaFLOPS
A petaFLOPS is a unit of measurement for computer performance All three of our supercomputers are overtaking Russian competitors in that, by computing capacity Our beloved Yury Dud released a film about Silicon Valley, after which I think all women in IT wrote to me asking why they get discriminated against, why nobody talks about them. So I want to ask how What is life like for women at Yandex? How many more men are there, and is that a problem? We’ve been tracking the...the percentages of women and men in the company for many years And we compare ourselves with the biggest IT players in the American market: Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Google Surprisingly, and it’s a mystery to me why this is, almost all the companies, ours included have identical numbers, just 1-2% off from each other For us, women...make up 34% of the company, and the weird thing is that all four of those American companies have the same numbers
be it for engineers or anyone else The fact that Elena Bunina took over as CEO, has that made a difference? For example, with a woman as CEO, do other women see that and go look for a job at Yandex? Does that work? Well… I’m not sure. I think the fact that we have Elena Bunina, professor at the MSU Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics someone with a PhD in mathematics, inspire women who are looking at this profession She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it) I think they see her and understand A role model to follow? A role model to follow I was appointed CEO after working for a long time as HR director and that role meant I was responsible for hiring developers and understanding if there was gender balance or disbalance With almost eleven years under my belt as an HR director, that’s always been my consideration Since we’re constantly looking for good developers, it’s an endless search with vacancies always open Developers are hard to find, so we take everyone we can get regardless of all those parameter Age, gender, of course, none of it matters. If you’re a good programmer, get over here It’s not harder for women to find a job as a developer The problem is that girls may not consider going into IT or math in the first place since they don’t think they can handle it or they see it as a men’s domain It’s mothers and grandmothers more than fathers and grandfathers that say “Oh, are you sure you want to go into math? What about the humanities? Why don’t you be a designer? Or a stylist.” It’s going to be a long time before we find out how many girls would go into math or IT if it weren’t for that since a few generations need to go by before mothers and grandmothers stop saying it I’d like to talk about you. Do you remember your math teacher from school? I went to one of the best schools in Armenia, and we had a really good math teacher But if you mean who taught me math, well...oh, and physics...that was my dad Why do you think it was so interesting for you? I think I enjoyed it because I was good at it. I mean, I think we’re all that way, but humans can only do what they’re actually good at
If it doesn’t work, you… Well, myself too, at least. And also when people talk about it in an interesting way I’ve just heard that you’ve left a meeting a few times saying you needed to do math with your son. And you went home They often don’t explain the fundamental idea at school You have to mechanically solve problems, and the kids don’t actually know how how it all works, how...how to solve the problem or...why it works that way And I try to explain to them the root cause behind it Why is it so important to know math? Because two plus two will always be four, even ten thousand years from now. Knowing math is important because it helps you understand the way the world is structured and built Knowing physics is important because you have to… It lets you feel the world ILYA SEGALOVICH FOUNDATION Yandex first got into education almost fifteen years ago. It was 2007, so we’re coming up on the 15th anniversary Back then, we started because we needed to grow our staff We now know that the profession we were trying to grow is called data science, data analysis While we called them “data analysis specialists,” nobody had any idea who they were I was a professor at MSU’s Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics, though I also taught at a school and at the Bauman University And a mutual friend of Arkady’s and mine… he knew that Arkady was planning that he’d had an idea for the School of Data Analysis It was just a rough idea back then, but he asked me to teach I told him there weren’t any classes I could teach well since I just taught very abstract mathematics He said, “Okay, let me just introduce you to Volozh.”
So I made the decision. Why not? I went to meet Volozh. He asked me what I thought about the...the idea for a school I told him it was a great idea. And why was I so enthusiastic? Because I had lots of students in my department who knew they...knew they wouldn’t be going into mathematics
and they were coming up to me and asking what they could do outside science and teaching math and asking what they could do outside science and teaching math Without really knowing what to say, I just suggested some kind of investment analytics or programming Back in 2007 it was hard to answer that question. It’s much easier now And when Arkady told me about his idea for a school, I realized it was one more answer, and maybe even a very good one The students could graduate to the School of Data Analysis, and while it was hard to say who they’d be at the end it was definitely someone top-notch Who they’d be working as, I mean So then he asked me if I was interested. I said I was. The rest is history. So we decided to ourselves that it would be the Yandex School of Data Analysis a kind of incredible two-year master’s program for only the best After graduation, students are worth their weight in gold all the companies in Russia, everyone who needs data scientists Greetings from Facebook’s office in London Huge greetings from the Amazon campus Greetings from San Francisco I am so excited to be sending this message from London Big greetings from Silicon Valley With thanks and best wishes from the main Google Campus And good luck to everyone with your studies I hope to see you all soon Hello to all the graduates of the Yandex School of Data Analysis in Moscow Helloooooo When we’re talking about education, every ruble, basically, that we invest brings a return of ten rubles I mean, I’m speaking very generally. In a sense, the most profitable thing Yandex could be doing is building education in the country Six million people have participated in Yandex’s educational programs over this past year That’s people who… It’s schoolchildren using Yandex Textbook, it’s our massive olympiads it’s teachers, it’s the parents of the children we’re teaching it’s people using Yandex.Practicum to move to a new profession. Lots of different people With that many educational services launched, and when we realized they’re our social responsibility that’s when we decided we need to bring everything together Absolutely everything that has social significance in education, all of it in one place We also realized we need to move past doing our own thing to think about others so to speak, and help third-party educational organizations with grants, maybe That was when we had the idea for the foundation, and we knew right away that it had to be called the Ilya Segalovich Foundation Ilya Segalovich is a Russian programmer, a tech entrepreneur, and a social activist. He cofounded Yandex and was the company’s CTO
First of all, we’d like to memorialize our founder Second, Ilya was all about doing something concrete, something about education, something amazing Ilya was always thinking about people. He was kind of, I don’t know, really emotional always very empathetic to everyone here at the company As HR director, it’s my job to think about how to think about people. And I probably learned that from Ilya You worked with Segalovich, right? Yes How would you say the Yandex of his time and today’s version differ? Knowing him, would he like everything that’s going on? I think he would have appreciated, for example, what we’ve done with our search engine something that’s relatively old technology in the internet age. He’d like how well we’re growing He’d like how well we’re growing, how Alice is coming along, that Yandex.Station is so fantastic If he were here today, something like in the movies, you know, where frozen people wake up Yes, just opened the door and walked in and walked in, I think he’d be in shock Why? Because I think all of us, him and everyone else, would have had a hard time imagining back then that that today’s Yandex would be more than a search engine. That’s we’d be taxis, food delivery, an e-commerce platform YANDEX.MARKET
Yandex is the kind of company that makes things for itself, at least, for itself to use Every day, we use the same product as our customers. But we don’t work on the other side You’re not working as a courier every day, not as a taxi driver, not at a warehouse not driving over to the warehouse, not at a store, none of that And you don’t get to see and understand what’s going on if you did a good or bad job, no matter how nice the things that we do are we don’t get that pair of fresh eyes. Because no matter how good we are, we’re biased That’s why I worked on the packing line a few weeks ago, and I had a super sensei to tell me how to do the job and make sure I didn’t send anything to the wrong person Unfortunately, I… Even with her help, I made a blunder Ham-handed, I guess But she told me they had a great box, and it always worked well for a bunch of different things And I feel like we really don’t have a way to get feedback from factory workers They come up with some great ideas For example, when you’re buying a laptop, it already comes in a box. Why pack it in something else, right? The problem there is that everyone in the logistical chain sees it’s a laptop. And the chances of someone snatching it are high With that in mind, we came up with this amazing box made out of two other boxes, and packing that laptop took, I don’t know, twenty minutes A long time. Really, a very long time
That was instead of just buying a larger box that would fit a laptop or anything else that’s bigger. Bingo That’s the kind of thing you either need to ask about or go there and see for yourself I give up It broke This thing isn’t working Can I have another? It didn’t print anything There’s something really important that I just wasn’t getting into my head When you’re building something completely online, your reaction time is very fast When you’re building something completely online, your reaction time is very fast But for operations, you come up with something, program it, hit deploy, and nothing works. Everything breaks. It takes you a long time to work out the process and get it working flawlessly You and I are sitting here and feeling like ordering something. What needs to happen for that? How my cat sees food delivery What it actually looks like There’s so much involved in the process, and anything in the chain can go wrong HITTING TOP SPEED Market Express is something that happened, as things often do, mostly by chance We were sitting in the office arguing about how to get deliveries to customers faster Sitting there, thinking about how to make same-day deliveries happen Getting something to the recipient from a big warehouse the same day is hell But then it dawned on us that, well, if we took a phone as an example, it was probably sitting right there in the store next door We went over to the electronics store that was one building over, and there it was. It could be delivered right from there
After that, we took Yandex.Delivery, headed off to see our partners with offline sales points, and said “Let’s make a new service. We’ll deliver your products really fast right from your offline stores We just grab them; stick them in a box, slap a sticker on them, or drop them in a bag; and the courier takes it away.” Perfect SPEED TEST Our interview is scheduled to last, basically, an hour and a half, two hours And that’s enough time for Market Express to get here. Let’s give it a try
Let’s do it. I’ll order My Little Pony or something for my daughter although this is a risk, honestly. What if it doesn’t work? My Little Pony toys. A movie. Six mega ponies Okay, it’s ready. The courier will deliver have the order here today between 11:40 and 12:20 ABOUT AUGMENTED REALITY I recently bought a TV, and the only reason I went to an offline store was, well, how big is 42 inches? Is it this much? This much? No idea. And I also wanted to see, will it fit...here or not So we’re in the middle of adding a feature where augmented reality lets you You point your phone at the spot where you want the TV to go, and it tells you if the TV will fit or not You can imagine the entire store, everything they sell there And you can touch the things check them out, see how they look on you, try on new sneakers, and all of that I think that’s what shopping will be like five years from now Is this for you? Yes, thank you No problem It’s here.
Okay, let’s open it too We have a lot of work left to do on packaging, that’s for sure Ta-da! I saw on Shuleyko’s Instagram that he’s been going to the warehouse himself I saw on Shuleyko’s Instagram that he’s been going to the warehouse himself but it’s strange that a top manager is off doing the job himself. Obviously, he’s not going to work as a courier Right Well, why is it? It's a way to see for yourself what the actual problems at the warehouse are, how life is for our different employees which processes they’re working on Instead of just looking at “average cow yields” you really understand how it all works by seeing at least some choke points, obstacles pain points that all those processes obviously have. It’s a great method What about you? Did you try working as a taxi driver? Yes, I got behind the wheel for a bit Really? Yep. Ilya Krasilshchik, for example, worked as a courier, delivering packages to see what works and what doesn’t
When you get into the weeds, you get a feel for all the problems Do you have other clothes? No, why? Just holding my phone hurts We’d like to rent a car The route looks easy enough, actually. Everything makes sense The turn is over there. It’s so cold out I hope this is some kind of joke The order said it’s 25 minutes to McDonald’s. That’s 3-4 kilometers walking Obviously, the timers aren’t just off. They’re way f**king off Okay, I need to get on my route It wants me to go through biometrics. Oh, you just have to close the app and open it one more time
The couriers are pretty happy I was talking to them by the shawarma stands, in shopping malls First of all, they really have a sense of community, much more than drivers Hey there It’s not like you work here as part of a team or something Are you kidding me? I’m not sure what the courier is supposed to think right now In an hour, I’m supposed to be on the other side of the river, and I’ve been walking my damn legs off for 20 minutes already It doesn’t look like cars can even go there. A delivery right into the river Are there a lot of fines? When you’re late, yeah, there are a lot of fines on the orders. I get it sometimes where the time is wrong And then we wonder why we have so many cancellations in Nizhny Novgorod The taxometer, the built-in GPS, the search function doesn’t work. I couldn’t find our hotel I was late for all my orders that day since I was late for the first one, and it just went from there for a very long time I’m already 15 minutes late getting to the restaurant since the tram just stopped on the tracks Let’s see why the tram stopped. Is there a word for the driver of the car that’s the reason someone isn’t going to get their delicious dinner? Ah, the courtyards here are a nightmare. How am I supposed to get through? How?
One interesting insight about life as a courier is that when you grab the bag and put on the coat, you become invisible to the rest of the city You’re cold, you’re bored, and you’re exhausted, honestly And I really don’t get how I’m supposed to fit all this in one bag Either it’s all going to get squashed, or something will spill. I’m not sure how the courier is supposed to make it work Yes, it’s a really good idea for everyone to give it a try. That’s the only way to understand where the real problems are Yes, it’s a really good idea for everyone to give it a try. That’s the only way to understand where the real problems are Prices for taxis this year have skyrocketed. Taxis have gotten really expensive. What do you have to say about that?
The system is completely automated. There’s a robot that’s constantly trying to maintain a balance between supply and demand and find the price that would make the service viable We don’t want empty shelves like you saw at stores in the 90s back when there was a price, but it was just empty… You go to the store and...there’s nothing there You could have one problem, where users log into the app, and there aren’t any cars Or you could have the opposite problem, where the price is too high which means the drivers just sit around without getting any orders If you were to take out, for example, 20% of drivers right now, the price would automatically jump higher If you were to then bring them all back, the price would be back where it was ten minutes later I still don’t get why you can’t set the service up so I have the same price I used to have on t...for my commute home
Same price since lots of people want to take taxis. If the price were lower, you’d wake up in the morning and there wouldn’t be any cars available since your neighbor would have woken up before you and grabbed yours I mean, none at all. If you want the shelves to be stocked, the price has to be in line with the market People are demonstrating huge demand these days for...for taxis compared to life before COVID Demand is higher. And the exact opposite was true of supply since the borders were closed, people left for example, to be with their families the way they usually do And they can’t come back since the borders are closed So yes, that means we’re seeing higher demand on the one hand, and a lack of supply on the other I mean, the number of drivers has dropped ens of percentage points in the country right now But there’s a third factor I’d like to tell you about, something that’s also important. There’s something called “platform efficiency.”
Imagine you have a driver who’s just sitting in their car without getting orders or maybe they got an order, showed up and the customer canceled Maybe they got the order and missed their turn because they just got it too late All of that contributes to idle mileage, or time that’s wasted instead of them earning money. And there’s a lot of that If we can cut back on all those problems, drivers will be able to earn much more money per hour YANDEX.GO Yandex.Pro is a platform for earning money that brings different services together in the same app
Right now, that’s taxis, deliveries, Yandex.Lavka, Yandex.Eats, and even Yandex.Market They’re handled by drivers and couriers, even Yandex.Eats personal shoppers Bringing all those services together has let us build scenarios that are much more efficient Taxi drivers can take more than just orders from Yandex.Go There are deliveries instead of just taxi rides There are deliveries instead of just taxi rides And that’s good for the driver, since they can earn more in the same time while it’s also good for the app user With more drivers available, they get picked up faster or have their order delivered faster The platform benefits from the boost in platform efficiency PRO EFFICIENCY When I pulled up the app myself, I’d see that a car was available, say, in 2-3 minutes But when I tapped the Order button, the numbers changed, or I saw two minutes that eventually turned into ten That was happening for two reasons. First, the driver’s GPS is creating noise We learned to check driver routes when assigning orders. In other words, if a driver is heading down Tverskaya Street we know for sure that he’s heading toward the center, which means the time can’t go from two to ten minutes We learned how to eliminate those leaps. And because of that, cancellations were cut in half
The second reason that was happening was because the driver was at an intersection at the moment you were making the order We offer the order, and he crosses the intersection. And while it would have taken two minutes from where he was, it’s now ten minutes We learned how to pick out those situations, and that let us cut way down on wait times THE GIG ECONOMY I’m not sure if you’re the right person for this question, but still. Taxi drivers often complain about about being overworked and tired. As the employer, do you take responsibility for that right now?
As a platform, we do take responsibility for that. It’s actually a new...a new reality called the gig economy And there’s a new kind of responsibility, something that’s between a business-employee relationship where you might chuck out the contract and go on to the next employee and an employer-employee relationship We’re trying to build tools that would let drivers use...well in a sense they now need… might need the most For example, when they are sick In other words, they’re sick, the driver is, and for a few days they can’t receive the money they need to pay the car rent asically...so that they wouldn’t lose their income Yandex is tracking me. Yes? When you’re talking to people, you know that… when you’re talking to someone someone said something… they don’t need to say this again tomorrow or… I mean, they’re...they’re someone new since they already got the information and processed it
We’re trying to teach, we learn, learn to recognize people. So when you say You’re tracking me as we’re talking since you remember what I said before this Sure In that way, the same way people track each other, any service you use, be it a social network, a search engine, or a food delivery service tries to learn how to work with you And the same way you and I are talking, I wouldn’t want you to take everything I’ve told you and pass it on On my YouTube channel Well, your YouTube channel, to your neighbors, and so on It’s important to me that I can tell you something private. In the same way, Yandex is very careful about what it does with the data There are two...two parts There’s what’s called personal data: first and last names, phone numbers...usernames, passwords, birthdays, all of that personal data that you that you might find in your passport, basically That’s all very carefully stored and protected to make sure it doesn’t leak That would be catastrophic for the person, for the company, for the service you shared the data with Then there’s the second set of data, that one is generated throughout our conversation And in some ways, the data here isn’t so critically important since it wouldn’t be that bad if someone found out that I smiled, for example But putting together a long string of that data gives you a bigger picture And here we’re putting together a rule for ourselves that we only ever use the data we have to improve Yandex services Can I tell Yandex not to track me? No, probably not, the same way you and I can’t tell each other that right now… We’re looking at each other, right? And just try to not remember But I… There’s nothing I can press in the app to…? Hold on, hold on, let me tell you I’m saying I can’t ask you to not remember what I’m telling you. You... you can’t make yourself do that
But... but what you can do, and I think we’re the only Russian internet company who has made this option available is delete all the data about you One complaint that came up this year is people looking for fake COVID vaccination certificates when mass vaccinations started happening in Russia Everything worked fine. But then Yandex blocked it I mean, when people entered that search term, they started getting official information about COVID, about the vaccines Isn’t that censorship since you blocked that query and wouldn’ton’t give me the information I’m looking for? These are sensitive topics. We made the tough decision that if there’s some sort of life-and-death issue, in other words
if there could be irreversible consequences, we have the right to interfere For the vaccine, we decided that we first need to provide information about the vaccine. Is that censorship? Well, we think it’s a question of life and death for humanity. The coronavirus is in general EXPERT SEARCH The whole thing with certificates is a perfect example of how Yandex Search has a responsibility to its users We can make a search engine based on expert opinion.Experts aren’t there to make a decision for every query on Yandex Of course not. It’s the algorithms what makes decisions. Experts provide the benchmark the unreachable target that all our...all our machine learning needs to aim for
Expertise isn’t just important in highly scientific areas, you know, in physics, biology, math. Of course, it’s important there But it’s also important for critical things like medical questions People ask Yandex how to treat something, which medicine can be combined with which. The queries are endless And making a mistake there can cost someone their wellbeing. Only an expert can look through all the available information
And making a mistake there can cost someone their wellbeing. Only an expert can look through all the available information and pick out the sources that can and can’t be trusted Last year, we rolled out a transformer neural network that was disruptively innovative and a great breakthrough And we realized it can handle more complex tasks than the algorithms we had before NEW TASKS What kind of tasks? Well, we ourselves weren’t happy with how Yandex respoded to programmers’ search queries It’s like the cobbler’s children always without shoes Unfortunately, we found ourselves Googling questions having to do with programming, and that was really disappointing At some point, we decided we were ready to deal with the situation. We want Yandex to respond in the same way a real programmer would if they were reading information online and answering a question. How did we do that?
We sent out a challenge to the entire company, asking our programmers to pick the best answers for the real questions our users ask, so we could build that benchmark the good answers are those answers that our the expert programmers actually think are good How do we get the algorithm moving toward that benchmark? There’s this...vacuum, abyss between them We can’t just take the algorithm and tell it, “Okay, Algorithm, do it like...like Pete doesr.” We can’t But what we can do is train the algorithm The knowledge of one expert turns into tens of thousands of examples that we use to train the algorithm and search results for programmers’ queries are getting better DATA CENTERS Tigran, why is it so loud in here? Loud? Yes! It’s loud because of the fans. For example, the temperature here in the summer can reach 40 degrees, and everything still has to work Each of these servers has eight graphics cards They’re special graphics cards, very powerful, not the ones people usually buy and plug into their computers How many of my home computers is this? A lot. Just one… This computer is 5.5 kilowatts. That’s about three electric teapots
A solid home computer might get up to one kilowatt, maybe a bit more This year, we started manufacturing these servers in Russia. We opened a joint venture with Lanit, Gigabyte (a Taiwan company), and VTB A factory will be built in Ryazan, and it will manufacture from the territory of...in Russia hey will be Russia-made servers since they’re not just You’re going to sell them? We’re going to sell them. I mean, the servers weren’t just designed in Russia, they’re Manufactured manufactured here too SERVERS OF OUR OWN The server you’ll see most often here at Yandex looks something like this It’s made up of different subsystems, two processors, and a fast network All the drives can be hot swapped. We have two hot processors that combine for up to 256 cores And there’s the fast network that we change in and out depending on the data center they’re going to We manufacture tens of thousands of these servers every year, and they’re used in almost all our clusters Why do we do this? Again, because we need to be able to build data centers that only need ventilation. In other words, if So you can buy them instead of making them on your own? Yes, you can go buy a ready-made server. There are lots of companies around the world manufacturing them, and that’s their design
By design, I mean the internal architecture Okay, let’s explain to everyone who Galushkin is and why the supercomputer was named after him Galushkin was a Soviet mathematician, a master of machine learning and neural networks in the Soviet Union and Russia This supercomputer is among the fifty most powerful in the world In the world, and not just in Russia? In the world, yes. There are official tests run by the people who compile the ranking, and they’re launched on supercomputers This one passed the test and made it into the ranking ENERGY EFFICIENCY Ah-h-h, sweet mother! Hey this is...this is where they make these music videos, the ones where I’m scattering the cloooooouds, right? Yes, these are extraction fans. We have energy efficient data centers that lose 10% of their electricity. That’s called PUE Data center efficiency is measured using PUE, or power usage effectiveness For us, that number is 1.1. In other words, 1.1 kilowatts of electricity goes in, and one kilowatt gets to the server. The global standard is 1.6-1.8 Actually, it’s not...it’s not just about ecology. It’s about the economy too
Around half of the cost of computing is for electricity, and most of the losses happen at the cooling stage But we have ventilation instead of cooling. This is one of our ventilation rooms INFRASTRUCTURE If we take one of our facilities in Vladimir, our data center uses the equivalent of 3000 apartments So if you imagine an apartment building, a pretty big one, so 100 apartments, we use the equivalent of 30 apartment buildings And that’s just one of our facilities. If you combined all the facilities you’d have yourself a nice micro district with 1000 apartment buildings I think our energy efficiency is among the best not just in Russia, but around the world One of the reasons for that is the fact that we design both the servers with all the server equipment designed by us, and the data centers as one big system, a single computing module I heard Yandex.Lavka opened in France Yes. It’s just an experiment so far. We have another, somewhat bigger experiment going on: Yandex.Lavka in Tel Aviv, in Israel In France, we’re just trying it out, so there are only three shops in the city, not much at all Just dipping a toe in the water. Our operation in Tel Aviv is much more mature with dozens of warehouses and big plans to cover the entire city and almost the entire country eventually YANDEX.LAVKA
Yandex.Lavka in Israel launched in November 2020. We probably started work on the idea at the beginning of summer 2020 during the... when they had their first COVID wave Back then, you could say, well, we really had no idea how to launch a project in another country We’d barely launched it in our own. And how to launch it in another country, of course was beyond us, and we made lots and lots of mistakes Thank god, we had time to... to fix them. Everything’s much, much better now But why Israel? Because there’s already a lot there. Yandex .Taxi, which is called Yango there; employees; I don’t know, a legal entity In other words, there’s a kind of foundation we were able to build on We decided to build the service on Yango, and that was how the international brand Yango Deli was born It is first and foremost in Israel, though our experiments in Paris and London are under the same brand While it’s still a pretty small project, we can see from the way it’s growing that the scale could be similar to what we see here MOSCOW — TEL AVIV Yandex is such a big company, and it might seem like we have ready-made recipes all kinds of divisions, plenty of people who can always help out But that’s much more complicated, and when you’re starting work on international projects, a lot of that expertise you have here it isn’t transferable to other markets. A lot of things you have here are hard to build there
The most important question, actually, when you’re launching a project like this, is what should become of it in Moscow and what should become of it in Israel. And it’s important to pass your experience over but at the same time make sure it isn’t relied on as a kind of Bible There are lots of things that work here but won’t work there. A big company ends up in another country and it turns out there’s a lot we have to learn all over again Once again, we have to build a reputation as an employer, as an expert on the city we’re in That process took us six months WORKING AS A COURIER I was in Israel for the first time, actually the first and only time since we’ve started Yandex.Lavka there back in March. Almost as soon as I got there, I headed out to try working as a courier, see what it was like I got on a scooter. And immediately I knew… I realized it’s completely different
It’s warm, the sun is shining Sometimes you can work as a Yandex.Lavka courier in Tel Aviv. In Tel Aviv, orders are delivered, for example, to life guards at the beach So, I’m on my way You give them their order, and they ask if you want coffee. And then I… I realize they’re asking me if I want coffee I mean, I hear the word “coffee” but don’t understand the rest. And that’s when I realized I forgot about one important detail
I don’t speak the language at all. And they’re saying something to me, only I don’t understand what they’re saying. You really feel like an immigrant right then Actually, in Moscow I… I mean, I get on my bike almost every month to deliver orders, see how everything’s working get a feel for it, really understand it. Over there, I was completely immersed They’re saying something to me, but I don’t know what it is. That was a fascinating
Overall, it’s just completely different… It’s a different setup because it’s so much easier. I mean, the last time I worked as a courier it was Shelepikhinskaya Naberezhnaya in February, and it was 18 degrees below zero It’s not a very good idea to ride a bike in minus 12 without a balaclava What else did I want to ask? How closely does Yandex keep an eye on the political leanings of its employees? Can I vote for whoever I want, write on social media everything that’s on my mind as a Yandex employee? We have precisely one rule: people who are the face of the company, top managers they in some sense can’t give their opinion or take a political position publicly And there’s a fairly, well, really simple explanation for that. We’re one of...one of the biggest media resources in the country So we have… Yandex wields strong influence in the media Whatever happens, you’re absolutely neutral, be that red, white, black, green...it doesn’t matter You create services that have no political... political flavor or political leaning And so... and since the services... the company is built by people, our top managers have to reserve their opinions So this Sunday, you couldn’t go to a protest as a private individual? No, I couldn’t But regular Yandex employees? They could Do they go to protests? Sure Have there been cases where employees disagreed with company policy? With decisions that were made? That will probably always be the case. But have there been riots and revolts? I can’t think of anything like that