December 17, 2012
“The perfect search engine would really understand whatever your need is,” says Google CEO Larry Page. And that’s exactly what the search giant wants to do. Moving past mathematical statistics and indexing, Google is building up its Knowledge Graph, a new database for understanding “things, not strings.”
The “knowledge panel” rests in the right-hand margin of Google’s results page, featuring pictures, maps and basic facts of queries. It became available to English speakers in May and has since expanded to seven other languages.
“But the story behind the knowledge panels goes back to mid-2010, when Google bought a San Francisco search startup called Metaweb Technologies and decided to use its massive semantic database, called Freebase, as the nucleus for its own project to approximate the way humans understand the world,” Xconomy writes.
“Metaweb’s creation doesn’t boil down to a collection of guesses about how documents are related to one another, the way Google’s other databases do,” the post continues. “Rather, it’s a human-curated encyclopedia of verified facts about things in the world and relationships between them — more than 570 million things and 3.5 billion relationships, at last count.”
But Page’s perfect search engine isn’t here just yet. “While true AI is still a long way off, the Knowledge Graph represents a shortcut to a time when software will be better at meeting, or even anticipating, our information needs,” the post states.
New improvements will focus on “better speech recognition, spoken-word interfaces, computer vision, natural language understanding, machine translation, and contextual awareness — all tough computer-science challenges that legions of PhDs at Google are gradually chipping away at. The results will be seen not just in the classic desktop search scenario but also in Google’s mobile interfaces.”