From the Times article:
Google researchers and Stanford scientists have discovered that if you show a large enough computing system millions of images from random YouTube videos for three days, the computer will teach itself to recognize
That may sound inconsequential at best and downright ridiculous at worst — but in fact, it is very important.
The research shows that if a computer is big enough, and programmed correctly, it can learn to make sense of random, unlabeled data, in just days without any help from humans.
And this research is especially important to Google because it has major implications for search.