Google's cloud gaming service, Stadia, is set to launch next month, and while the technology is certainly interesting in concept, there's an understandable amount of skepticism in regards to how the experience will be impacted by latency. Since games will be running off of machines in the cloud, not only will the experience be conditioned by the user's internet connection, even ideal conditions may not guarantee you won't see any delays between your controller input and when the corresponding action happens on screen.
Google seems to be confident this won't be a problem, though. In a recent interview with Edge magazine (via PCGamesN), Madj Bakar, Vice President of engineering at Google, said the service will be even more responsive than local gaming hardware in "a year or two". Bakar adds that this will be the case regardless of how powerful that gaming hardware may be.
In order to achieve that, Google will use artificial intelligence to counteract any potential delays, in what it calls "negative latency". This means the service will try to predict the expected amount of latency for the user's connection and then try to mitigate the effects of that latency, such as through increasing the framerate to reduce the delay between controller input and the corresponding action.
Even more interesting is that Google will try to predict your next controller input in order to reduce input lag. According to the report, the system won't assume your input and take action for you, but it can use its predictions to improve the response time when you do press a button.
Of course, this is clearly a forward-looking statement, and it remains to be seen if the technology will evolve quickly enough for this kind of feature to be useful. At this point, we haven't even seen how the current version of Stadia will work in the real world. We'll have to have wait until November to see if the experience is any good.