Google Cloud Innovator Juan Guillermo Gómez on transforming AI and the importance of community

Google Cloud Champion Innovators are a global network of more than 600 non-Google professionals, who are technical experts in Google Cloud products and services. Each Champion specializes in one of nine different technical categories which are cloud AI/ML, data analytics, hybrid multi-cloud, modern architecture, security and networking, serverless app development, storage, Workspace and databases.

In this interview series we sit down with Champion Innovators across the world to learn more about their journeys, their technology focus, and what excites them.

Today we’re talking to Juan Guillermo Gómez. Currently Technical Lead at Wordbox, Juan Guillermo is a Cloud Architect, Google Developer Expert, Serverless App Development Champion, and community builder who is regularly invited to share his thoughts on software architecture, entrepreneurship, and innovation at events across Latin America. 

Natalie Tack (Google Cloud Editorial): What technology area are you most fascinated with, and why? 

Juan Guillermo Gómez: As a kid, I dreamed of developing software that would change the world. I’ve always been fascinated by programming and the idea of creating products and services that make people’s lives easier. Nowadays, my focus is on architecture modernization and using innovative new tech to scale and improve systems. Following a Google Cloud hackathon around 10 years ago, I started to take an interest in serverless architecture and became really enthusiastic about Google Cloud serverless computing services, which enable you to focus on coding without worrying about infrastructure. Nowadays, I’m excited about the potential of AI to help us create better, more robust, and more efficient systems, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where that will take us. 

NT: As a developer, what’s the best way to go about learning new things?

JGG: There’s a wealth of resources out there, whether it’s YouTube, podcasts or developer blogs. I find the Google Cloud developer blog and YouTube channel particularly instructive when it comes to real use cases. But the most important thing in my opinion is to be part of a community. It enables you to share experiences, collaborate on projects and learn from others with expertise in specific industries. Google Developer Groups, or GDGs, for example are a great way to network and keep up with the latest developments. Becoming a Google Cloud Champion Innovator has been really beneficial. It enables me to learn directly from Googlers, collaborate around shared problems, and work directly with other people from my field. I can then share that knowledge with my community in Latin America, both as co-organizer of GDG Cali and via my podcast Snippets Tech. 

NT: Could you tell us more about your experience as an Innovator?

JGG: I joined the Innovators program in September 2022, and it was a natural fit from the start. The Innovator culture is deeply rooted in that of developer communities, which I’ve participated in for over 20 years now. The core philosophy is sharing, collaboration and learning from others’ experiences, not only through getting together at talks and conferences, but also open source software and libraries. Basically, creating things that benefit the community at large: the Innovator mindset is fundamentally collaborative. 

As a result, the program provides a wealth of information, and one of the biggest benefits from my point of view is the amount of real use cases it gives access to. I’ve learnt a lot about embedding and semantic similarity that I’m putting into practice in my work as Technical Lead at Wordbox, a startup that helps people learn languages through TV and music. 

NT: What are some upcoming trends you’re enthusiastic about?

JGG: Generally speaking, I’m very interested to see where we’ll go with generative AI. I started working with Google Cloud APIs such as Translate and Speech-to-Text around three years ago as part of my work with Wordbox, and I’m impressed with the way Google Cloud democratizes machine learning and AI, allowing anyone to work with it without extensive machine learning knowledge.

There are so many potential use cases for gen AI. As a developer, you can work faster, solve programming language challenges, write unit tests, and refer to best practices. As an Innovator, I gained early access to Duet AI for Developers (now called Gemini Code Assist), which is a great tool to fill in knowledge gaps, suggest scripts and help out junior architects or those that are new to Google Cloud – basically helping you focus on creating great code. 

NT: Can you tell us about an exciting new project you’re working on?

JGG: The Wordbox language learning app features a collection of short videos with English phrases that we show users based on semantic similarity, where the phrase in the new video is similar to the previous one. To enable that, we use Vertex AI, PaLM 2 and Vector Search, and are keen to explore Gemini models, as they offer advanced capabilities for comparing semantic similarities not only between text, but also between text and video, which would enable us to create stories around specific phrases. For example, if a user is watching a video related to a “Game of Thrones” review series and learning certain expressions from it, we can use Gemini models to find similarities with other videos or texts. This will allow us to produce a narrative around the learned expression, creating a comprehensive learning environment that’s tailored to the user’s proficiency level.  The learner can then read or watch the story, answer questions and engage in a more interactive, personalized learning experience. 

As a side project, I’m also working on an AI-enabled platform that helps musicians and singers create lyrics based on keywords, genre, and context. They input the information, and the platform generates lyrics that hopefully serve as a jumping-off point for a great new piece of music. 

NT: What advice would you give to budding innovators? 

JGG: The Innovators program can be summed up in three words: networking, learning, and growth. I’d advise anyone interested in becoming an Innovator to be proactive both in learning and in engaging with their fellow developers. It feels pretty great to be given early access to an API and then a few months later tell your community about it while creating fantastic new features for your clients. 

Take the next steps on your Google Cloud journey and learn more about the Google Cloud Innovators Program, designed to help developers and practitioners grow their Google Cloud skills and advance their careers. No matter where you are on your cloud journey, the Innovators Program has something for you!