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Google AI Technology

Google's Second Brain: How the Knowledge Graph Changes Search 76

waderoush writes "Last spring Google introduced its English-speaking users to the Knowledge Graph, a vast semantic graph of real-world entities and properties born from the Freebase project at Metaweb Technologies (which Google acquired in 2010). This month Google began showing Knowledge Graph results to speakers of seven other languages. Though the project has received little coverage, the consequences could be as far-reaching as previous overhauls to Google's infrastructure, such as the introduction of universal search back in 2007. That's because the Knowledge Graph plugs a big hole in Google's technology: the lack of a common-sense understanding of the things in its Web index. Despite all the statistical magic that made Google's keyword-based retrieval techniques so effective, 'We didn't ever represent the real world properly in the computer,' says Google senior vice president of engineering Amit Singhal. He says the Knowledge Graph represents a 'baby step' toward future computer systems that can intuit what humans are searching for and respond with exact answers, rather than the classic ten blue links. 'Now, when you encounter encounters the letters T-A-J-M-A-H-A-L on any Web page, the computers suddenly start understanding that this document is about the monument, and this one is about the musician, and this one is about a restaurant,' Singhal says. 'That 'aboutness' is foundational to building the search of tomorrow.'"
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Google's Second Brain: How the Knowledge Graph Changes Search

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  • by Press2ToContinue ( 2424598 ) * on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @09:19PM (#42268059)

    Sorry, but I fail to see how this is so different from all those other messy "graphing" methodologies and so-called analytical tools that have laboriously forced themselves into my workspace only to writhe around awhile and die because they have overly-specialized utility, and waste more screen space than Outlook 2013 [arstechnica.net] i.e. mindmaps [google.com], flowcharts, music maps [google.com], radar graphs, bubble diagrams [google.com], et al, not to mention the hundreds of failed graphical programming languages [google.com].

    Call me skeptical, but I think it will end up in the Google Graveyard Of Flops [wordstream.com].

  • by bessie ( 212155 ) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @09:31PM (#42268165)

    ... and what appears to be its associated features.

    Eg. When I search on my Android phone, there is *no way* to force it to do unweighted searches for keyword prevalence, or even a reasonable approximation thereof (while trying to avoid SOE-seeding keyword-heavy websites, for example).

    I always get stuff that Google "thinks I want", and I get that little nicely-formatted shorthand result set up-top as the first result (a map, a fact or figure, a schedule), and it waits around for awhile before returning the rest of the results.

    I don't want Google to give me what it thinks I want, or SHOULD want, or even what "most people" want - I want a pure result set basic on simple pattern matching in the dataset.

    I know it's a lot more complex than that under the hood, and subject to all kinds of definitions of what a "match" is. But now I am inundated with "apps you may be interested in" and other items for sale or marketing tie-ins or "latest and greatest", and not very often what I'm actually searching for.

    I wish Google would let you turn off all those pre-guessing "features" for folks like me who just want to search for particular, unweighted things.

    - Tim

  • by islisis ( 589694 ) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @10:04PM (#42268467) Homepage

    Currently I have to quote almost every keyword due to the issues drawn in parent and compounded by the change from + syntax in the old system.

    Search is not what it used to be, these days sites are more interested telling you what to search for than asking

  • by Press2ToContinue ( 2424598 ) * on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:07PM (#42268895)

    Thanks, I actually do realize it's being built into the search algorithms, but it appears the upshot of the demo is to float a balloon (as if Google cares to float balloons at all) that they are evolving away from the simple list and are going toward non-list layouts like this space-waster [google.com] and this "collection" [google.com], and ultimately this interactive bubble diagram [google.com] to - I would imagine - enable the user to fully take "advantage" of the internal algorithms. It seems they have that in mind, and I personally don't like any of them as much as a simple list, and the least one is the graph itself. I may have jumped the gun and in my mind thought they were going to implement the graph as well as the other alternative layouts at the same time, but it doesn't actually say one way or another if the graph-layout will be presented as a tool. I don't see why the wouldn't, they have a mock-up already.

  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Wednesday December 12, 2012 @11:08PM (#42268907)

    I don't want Google to give me what it thinks I want, or SHOULD want, or even what "most people" want - I want a pure result set basic on simple pattern matching in the dataset.

    This, exactly. For my purposes, Google has become significantly more inconvenient to use, and its results much less useful, over the past 5 years or more. I now have to use an 'allintext' operator for almost every search, and often the directive is simply ignored. And increasingly I have to put double quotes around every search term, because otherwise I get results that contain Google's idea of synonyms, (and not-so-synonyms), of my search terms; the 'synonyms' almost universally represent irrelevant junk.

    From the sound of it, with this new initiative Google is about to become entirely useless for 90+ percent of my searches. I really have no objection to them coming up with new filtering and relational algorithms - just let me turn off all of the preemptive, predictive, and utterly wrong crap-filled processing so I can get the info I need without trying to figure out how to game their intrusive filters and pointless predictions.

    FWIW, the fact that Google DOESN'T differentiate between "Taj Mahal' the palace and 'Taj Mahal' the artist without deliberate user prompting is a GOOD thing. Such ambiguities are the stuff of diversity, the pathway to new knowledge, and the breeding ground for new associations, ideas, and connections. Google's latest bit of shiny is a path to sterility, and a dumbing-down of the Web.

    Google has always been good at mining the Web for raw data, but they have always totally sucked at divining and predicting needs and intentions, and I really wish they'd just stop trying.

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