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Could IBM's Watson Put Google In Jeopardy? 274

theodp writes "Over at Wired, Vashant Dhar poses a provocative question: What If IBM's Watson Dethroned the King of Search? 'If IBM did search,' Dhar writes, 'Watson would do much better than Google on the tough problems and they could still resort to a simple PageRank-like algorithm as a last resort. Which means there would be no reason for anyone to start their searches on Google. All the search traffic that makes Google seemingly invincible now could begin to shrink over time.' Mixing supercomputers with a scalable architecture of massive amounts of simple processors and storage, Dhar surmises, would provide a formidable combination of a machine that can remember, know, and think. And because the costs of switching from Google search would not be prohibitive for most, the company is much more vulnerable to disruption. 'The only question,' Dhar concludes, 'is whether it [IBM] wants to try and dethrone Google from its perch. That's one answer Watson can't provide.'"
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Could IBM's Watson Put Google In Jeopardy?

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  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:27PM (#45060959)

    Watson? Jeopardy?

    Does that mean we have to enter the answer an he gives us the question?


    • by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:46PM (#45061245) Homepage Journal
      More importantly, was this headline conceived specifically to foil machine-learning methods for inferring meaning from context? This seems profound in its poignancy.
      • Re:Google, really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @02:04PM (#45061455) Journal

        Of course Watson will be able to do this.

        Obviously, Dhar did a bunch of research, and determined that even though it took a massively powerful computer to answer one question at a time that has a predetermined single answer, over several seconds, it can trivially scale to support millions of simultaneous queries, which may have zero, one or multiple answers.

        • If you remember the blatant IBM marketing material that was interspersed with the Jeopardy episodes, they had planned from the start for Watson to be scalable (one of the first applications was medical literature search)—and if you remember the episodes themselves, you'd realise that it's a tad silly to suggest it couldn't handle cases with zero or multiple answers, since it performs Bayesian reasoning on a huge pool of possible hits and simply announced the best one.

          But Watson isn't, wasn't, and woul

          • Re:Google, really? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by aaronb1138 ( 2035478 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @02:36PM (#45061831)
            It would make more sense to make a Page-rank (Google style) search the default and make an intelligent Watson answer system a premium micro-payment based ($2-20 yearly for 1k queries or so). Then use to Watson derived answers to boost the page-rank result quality.

            This is more or less, what Wolfram is already trying to sell, though their parsing and indexing engine is weak compared to Watson and Google respectively.
          • one of the first applications was medical literature search

            And IBM being IBM, they would probably not venture into advertising-supported search. They'd rather have some other risk-taker pay them to implement it. Or have every person that wants to do this sort of search pay them for their own private setup.

            • First they will try to figure out how to offshore it while getting the U.S. government to give them more tax breaks while doing so.
          • Re:Google, really? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @03:06PM (#45062257) Homepage

            Medical literature is a tiny world - much smaller even than the one that shapes Jeopardy questions. Medical journals are numbered in what, the hundreds? Many don't even publish monthly. I'd be willing to bet Google indexes more new content in a minute than there is new medical literature in a year.

            On top of that you have a market for the research that can and will pay per query. Combine revenue per query with a small world to search and you can dedicate an enormous amount of processing power and time compared to that which Google can offer.

        • In all fairness, Watson has been used in medical contexts where it ranks its suggested diagnoses and treatments (multiple answers, not just one right answer). It also runs on 1 server now, instead of 75. But no, I don't think it's going to scale up to beat Google anytime soon. If/when IBM says they are doing so, that's another story.
          • If we assume that google would be able to match them server for server, there is no reason to believe that Watson is any better in the aggregate. We only know about how it scales vertically. Just because Watson is better at Jeopardy and medical research doesn't mean they'd even be competitive at internet search; unless this is a thought experiment where we pretend IBM spends all their money on supercomputers for search, and Google doesn't change or respond.

            • The difference being that you can have a conversation with Watson. Not so with Google. Google takes you to information. Watson provides information.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Even if they can scale Watson up 1 billion times, that would solve nothing. Searching documents on the Internet is not that hard, in fact it's largely speaking a solved problem; especially when you add website browsing data (Google toolbar etc.) and click rates on the SERP to the traditional page-rank information derived from the link structure.

          What is fiendishly hard is maintaining good relevance of your results in the face of a human, adapting and immensely rich adversary: the SEO industry. In that regard

          • by pepty ( 1976012 )
            Searching isn't as hard (anymore), interpretation (what Watson aims to do) still is. Given the right query using symptoms and lab test results as keywords Google will give you a list of articles and websites, some of which will have information on the correct differential diagnosis protocols to use to come up with a diagnosis. Watson will give you a ranked list of diagnoses and the evidence for each and/or further tests to run. I agree with you about Watson's vulnerabilities: Watson was raised on a pretty w
    • Watson? Jeopardy?

      Jeopardy, as in "I'll try 'Silly Unsubstantiated Conjectures' for $400"

    • An IBM developed Jeopardy playing supercomputer. A popular TV game show in which players must give the questions corresponding to a displayed answer.



    • I think it means Dhar wants a job at IBM?
  • References? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:27PM (#45060963)

    The difference is, that Google does not tell the answer. It just gives you a link to the answer. So if the answer is wrong, you cannot blame Google.
    What about Watson?


    ps: also the last thing I would say about pagerank is being simple

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      The difference is, that Google does not tell the answer.

      It does on an android. Ask it the current temperature and it will tell you -- in centigrade, which is pretty dumb since it knows I'm in Illinois and we use Fahrenheit for air temperature here. You have to specify Fahrenheit. When they had the floods in Colorado I pulled out my phone and asked the elevation of Colorado Springs and it told me. I asked it how far it was to Bellville and it said "94 miles" which surprised me; I was expecting kilometers sin

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        I just asked google now and it answered me in Fahrenheit. I was hoping it would be in celsius. I am in the USA, but simply prefer better system of measure.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Grishnakh ( 216268 )

          Except there's nothing "better" about Celcius, it's just a different arbitrary standard.

          • Re:References? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @02:08PM (#45061495)

            Save for that fact that it makes sense. It is based on water a common material we are all familiar with and uses a nice 0-100 scale.

            Yeah, other than that there is nothing better about it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Grishnakh ( 216268 )

              Yes, and when do you ever see outdoor temperatures over 50 or 60 on the Celcius scale? (never) And when do you see negative temperatures on the Celsius scale (all the time unless you live in a hot area)?

              Fahrenheit has better resolution and scale for human temperatures. If it's over 100 or under 0, the weather is "extreme". Not so with Celsius. And it has roughly double the resolution.

              • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

                You realize that the temperature can have decimal places added right?

                Farenheit like the mile needs to go.

              • This is really down to familiarity. You are used to considering "0-100" the normal range. That's not even true for everyone .. for instance, where I live, the range of 30-120 F is much more useful. But it doesn't really matter, because once you've used it for a while, you will naturally learn the temperature range that you experience. Same with Celcius. Note that essentially everyone who grew up in countries that use Celcius prefer it.

                The list of actual benefits and drawbacks for either scale are prett

            • Yep, and also the fact that it uses the same magnitude degree as the kelvin which is the S.I. base unit for temperature.
          • It is also better in the sense that the individual units represent a wider range of temperature.

            So you can actually tell the difference between say... 15C and 16C but there really is little meaningful difference between say 71F and 72F.

            I can live without any of the rest of the metric system, but for temperature, it is significantly more useful.

        • While I agree the metric system is almost always better, I disagree in this instance. Celsius is much less granular. If I set my thermostat (granted, it's a cheep one) using Celsius it will keep the correct temperature, but I'm much more likely to be hot or cold because there can be as much as a 3 degree (Fahrenheit) difference. within the Celsius measure. Yes, thermostats can be designed that use fractions (most probably are) but mine's not.
          • by Pope ( 17780 )

            Every digital thermostat I've ever used had 0.5 degree increments for Celsius.

              I seriously doubt the majority uses theirs to move temperature by 1 degree increments in either scale.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        You selected celsius at some time.

        Open google now, say ok google "What is the current temperature", when it responds click on the F instead of the C. The next time you ask it will use that preference.

      • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

        It only gave an answer because you asked an extremely common question that it was programmed to answer. Restate the question as 'Based on today's forecast, should I wear a Polo shirt or a sweater' and see what the 'answer' is. That is the type of question Watson is aiming for.

      • It has trouble with "fur lined gloves"

        It helps to hypenate when you say it.

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:27PM (#45060967)

    It's probably much more profitable for IBM to license the technology to Google/Yahoo/MSFT/whoever than it would be for IBM to build search infrastructure.

    • It's probably much more profitable for IBM to license the technology to Google/Yahoo/MSFT/whoever than it would be for IBM to build search infrastructure.

      I guess Google doesn't want to license the technology, they want to own it. If it were something that anyone could own they'd lose their edge. They've been hiring AI researchers, including Ray Kurzweil [] last December, for just this purpose. IBM's Watson is the baseline they want to surpass and stand out from once their competitors all start using "mere" Watson-levels of AI-powered search. ;-)

      • > I guess Google doesn't want to license the technology, they want to own it.

        Absolutely. They can license or outsource payroll software, backup systems, communications - anything that is similar to what other companies have. Outsourcing SEARCH, the thing that makes them special, would be making themselves into an easily replaceable retailer for IBM.

        Schwinn learned that the hard way. They were the dominant bicycle company. First they outsourced the manufacturing of parts, and that was fine. They designe

  • Silly question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:27PM (#45060969) Homepage Journal

    Of course not. It's an IBM machine, they'll sell Google as many as Google wants to buy. Of course, so can Microsoft but they don't have a good track record at all.

    I wish Google did have a Watson. This morning I asked my Android "where can I buy a good pair of fur-lined leather gloves" and it thought I said "where can I buy a good pair of for lined leather gloves" and returned no useful results at all. The programmer was a southerner, I guess? "How much does them go fer?"

    Amazing what it does get right, but Google, buy a few Watsons!

    • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )
      That has to do with speech recognition, something Watson (at least at the time of the Jeopardy filming) didn't have at all.
      • Maybe. Or it could use context (comparing to learned common phrases) to determine that a wrong word was chosen. Something that Google normally does, except since it saw the word "for" it mostly ignored it as a filler word.

    • In your case, it would be better for Google to license Siri than Watson.

    • by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:48PM (#45061269)

      Tried this with Siri,not only did it find people selling fur-lined leather gloves, it also found photos of models wearing skimpy dresses with gloves on.

      I'm sure there's a deeper meaning here.

    • This morning I asked my Android "where can I buy a good pair of fur-lined leather gloves" and it thought I said "where can I buy a good pair of for lined leather gloves" and returned no useful results at all. The programmer was a southerner, I guess? "How much does them go fer?"

      No it actually thought you wanted to buy "purloined" leather gloves. The programmer is a Sherlock Holmes afficianado.

  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:27PM (#45060977) Homepage Journal
    Watson was a supercomputer answering basically one question at a time. You can't apply that level of compute time to every single query without bankrupting yourself on hardware costs. With time computer cycles will become cheaper and this will be more realistic, but today's technology just isn't there.
    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      Indeed. Watson cannot answer millions of queries per second.
      Google is deliberately simple so it can.

    • It's also a completely different problem from information retrieval in a messy domain like "all documents on the internet". Watson is built mainly out of more structured data: dictionaries, almanacs, atlases, Wikipedia infoboxes, etc. It turns this into a huge database of knowledge, and then does inference on that database to try to answer Jeopardy-style questions posed in natural language. But this doesn't even try to tackle the other side of the natural language problem, which is parsing not only a natural-language query, but the entire contents of the internet.

      In short, Watson might compete in the Wolfram Alpha space, of retrieving structured knowledge from databases, but not, at least not without a major overhaul, in the general document search space.

      • by racermd ( 314140 )

        Good point. And this is also ignoring that the question is rather moot, anyway. Google's dominance in the search-engine game isn't as important as it once was. Their other service offerings, like GMail, Maps, etc., are FAR more important to the company that the search engine and portal. Even *if* a competitor comes along and de-thrones Google from the search space, Google has far more going on in other aspects of its business to worry about it for more than a few minutes. Watson de-throning Google in s

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      Yeah, that's the killer right there. Until Watson-level parsing and research can be done on the sort of scale that Google handles, I doubt it'll matter. The most vulnerable search engines would be something like Wolfram Alpha, which take much longer to process queries and are specifically about making more advanced connections between topics and keywords. I very much doubt IBM has any interest in fighting Wolfram Alpha though, as the market's just not there.
    • And you can be certain that Google is working on their own 'Watson' tech, so when the hardware is ready, they'll be able to do it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by swillden ( 191260 )

        And you can be certain that Google is working on their own 'Watson' tech, so when the hardware is ready, they'll be able to do it.

        Not just working on... has deployed, in a small way, to the degree that current capabilities can support on a massive scale.

        That's what Google's Knowledge Graph work is about, and its work on natural language processing of search queries (including spoken queries). Google web search doesn't have Watson-level understanding, yet, but it has already moved well beyond the string matching + page ranking that the article supposes and is continuing to progress. Indeed, that progress is the source of many of the

        • I work for Google but not on anything related to this article or thread

          Oh, please focus on fixing bugs

          • I work for Google but not on anything related to this article or thread

            Oh, please focus on fixing bugs

            Hehe. I doubt that you are affected by any of the bugs I fix, though. Not that you notice, anyway :-)

    • This, this, and more this. People seem to always forget that you don't get exclusive access to something like this on the net. It is like guys going gaga over the cloud and misapplying the possibilities, completely ignoring that you have to server thousands, perhaps even millions of requests at once.
  • by MikeTheGreat ( 34142 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:28PM (#45060981)
    Well, I guess I'm glad to see it's not just /. that's past it's prime :/
    I mean, seriously - "What is someone else made a better search engine? ALL TRAFFIC WOULD GO THERE AND GOOGLE WOULD DIE" just seems so.... speculative.
    (Maybe Wired has added a Creative Writing section since I last read it?)
    • Um, in my experience, this is EXACTLY the type of stuff I would expect to see from Wired. I used to go dislexic and thought it said Weird.

      • I gotta admit that it's been a very long time since I actually read Wired, but I remember them having more interesting stories about tech and fewer sensational pieces. The summary makes it sound like something I'd see on my local TV news station ("GOOGLE: IT MIGHT DIE??!?!??? Tune in after these advertisements to watch us speculate!").
  • They don't have time to invade Google's search domain - they are too busy trying to keep people from ditching their apps!

    Whirlpool switches to Google Apps []

  • No (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
  • The database is much more important than the engine, and IBM can't compete with Google on that one.

    • crawling the web to build the database is trivial

      scaling watson up to hundreds of millions of users is the problem

      • by Xtifr ( 1323 )

        crawling the web to build the database is trivial

        Well, trivial in the sense that it doesn't require particularly sophisticated technology. Just huge, gigantic piles of not-sophisticated technology. The deployment, provisioning, and maintenance of that huge pile of technology is non-trivial. The code itself is relatively trivial, though. But code is only a tiny portion of what's required.

        scaling watson up to hundreds of millions of users is the problem

        Exactly. And this is even more so when you consider ongoing costs. Google uses cheap, throwaway servers in mind-boggling quantity. Building gigantic clusters of Watson-sty

  • More like put wolfram alpha and parts of Wikipedia in a different position. Google would still be the go to for search. I do like the idea of or boldly becoming a tranquil place to find answers.
    • I do like the idea of or boldly becoming a tranquil place to find answers.

      Incense and windchimes... can we patent this?

  • So, a few stories below we have the "Whirlpool's 30,000 users move to Google" and now we get an "IBM Could Crush Google" story? No, that's no suspicious at all.
  • What if Apple did maps? Oh yeah, they did! They made maps beautiful! But they aren't exactly dethroning Google Maps.

    What does Watson have to do with search? Watson is amazing, but applying what it does well, to improving search, would likely be as monumental a task as creating Watson itself.

  • by RandomUsername99 ( 574692 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:49PM (#45061273)

    I'm getting a bit sick of 'smart' searches... or, rather, not being able to disable the 'smartness.' More often than not, I really don't want a search engine making assumptions about what I meant, rather than just taking what I enter completely literally, and I *never* want it to insert results that don't contain all of my search terms because it scored exponentially better with the other items in the query. Chances are, I added in the term they were ignoring, specifically, to drastically reduce the number of results I got, because I wanted to *narrow it down*.

    Maybe I'm a curmudgeon, but I would rather tweak the search to narrow down crap results than try to outsmart the 'smartness' any day of the week. I understand that this isn't necessarily what John Q. Internetuser is looking for in search, but at least having the option there would be a big help. Google used to have a very straightforward syntax to help you modify your search results in specific, predictable ways... while much of that syntax is still valid in google searches, now it seems like everything can be arbitrarily overridden by what google thinks you 'should' have meant, rather than what you told it you meant. Very frustrating.

    • Try DuckDuckGo.

    • If your search engine doesn't apply "smart", in what order do you suggest it to return its results?

      Free Google hint: try the verbatim search option - you get the smart ordering minus the smart word guesses.

    • True story. Not so long ago (interestingly it appears to be fixed now), I did a Google search for CP/M submit (I was trying to remember whether submit was the command to run batch files in CP/M, for some pathetic joke that's lost in history. Anyway...)

      The list of results was apparently enormous, but none of the pages that initially came up had anything whatsoever to do with CP/M. There was nothing to suggest they'd changed my search parameters in the usual annoying way (no "Searching for "Something reall

  • by Empiric ( 675968 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:49PM (#45061277)
    Which means there would be no reason for anyone to start their searches on Google.

    Sure there is. Start with what led Google to dominate search in the first place--interface minimalism. Google has become very good at returning results based on a minimal number of keywords about the desired topic; forming a question around the topic of interest is slowing one down in terms of keystrokes. And, generally, an answer to a specific question is not at all what one actually wants. What is sought is sources of information about a topic, for which a listing of highly-relevant links is superior to a single "the" answer. Is there anyone who doesn't type topic keywords over literal specific questions at, at minimum, a 20-to-1 ratio? No one I know.

    ... Dhar surmises, would provide a formidable combination of a machine that can remember, know, and think.

    But to simplify the issue, we have this. "Surmising" that Watson, or any known technology, can do any of the above disqualifies him from any commentary on any such technological issue or endeavor.
  • The point of Google search is not to provide the best possible search results, it's point is to make money. If Watson were a search engine and provided great results, that'd be fine, but how would they make money off of that? People would spend less time on their site, they wouldn't be able to insert paid adds into your search, and the hardware for the engine would cost far more than what google needs. It wouldn't be profitable at all.

  • I don't use Google search, so Watson isn't going to overthrow it for me, but it does come to mind that there is more to running a search engine than being able to do a good job answering one person's questions. In other words, does it scale?

  • by T.E.D. ( 34228 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:52PM (#45061315)

    This betrays a very basic misunderstaning about how Google got where it is, and how it stays there.

    Yes, pagerank is a great idea, and it was perhaps an improvement over what was being done before. But that wasn't why people abandoned the likes of Lycos and Yahoo(!) for Google back in the late 90's. Back then all the other search engines had gone to practices that were quite frankly user-abusive. Adds were placed all over the place, including an indeterminate amount of the top hits on your search. The search screens themselves also existed mostly to pump ads at you, and were really clunky, with a large amount of confusing options right there on the main search page.

    Google, by contrast, had a main search page with no options whatsoever. Just a text box and a couple of buttons. "Breath of fresh air" doesn't even begin to describe how wonderful to use this was compared to what we were used to. On top of that, the search results were clearly delineated from the ads, so you could trust the results. The "don't be evil" motto was obviously infused into the whole effort. Every competitor was just a giagantic pain to use by comparison. "Page rank" or whatever wifty algorithim used for all this was something that nobody but extreme techies (and marketers) really ever gave a crap about.

    So if you've got something that you think competes with Google, you'd better be talking about how nice and clean the interface is by comparison, how much easier it is to find real results without having to wade around ads, and how trustworthy the provider is wrt not allowing marketing weasels to buy their way into my search results. If you aren't talking about any of that, frankly nobody gives a crap.

    • by mbone ( 558574 )

      You do realize that those days are long gone?

      I don't normally use google for search, but I fired it up and entered "fur lined leather gloves" (see above) as a trial.

      On the first page, "above the fold" (i.e., what I can see without scrolling), there are

      11 ads
      1 dialog box for some new feature I don't care about and
      1 actual search result, for Amazon.

      As I am aware that Amazon is a company that sells many different things, and as ads are not search,
      Google search actually returned nothing interesting to me at all

      • How badly did you want those fur lined gloves? You've posted about them at least three times, so you must be pretty mad about it. Imagine how people used to get their fur lined gloves before we had the internet...

    • by mbone ( 558574 )

      On top of that, the search results were clearly delineated from the ads, so you could trust the results.

      If you believe that that is sufficient to trust the results, I guess you haven't been searching much recently. Google makes (AFAICT) no attempt to weed out click-farm type fake vendors. (They have to know who they are, as they sell ads to them, and have enough data to figure out who is just shuffling customers off to another site.) That makes searching for something almost hopeless unless the big vendors carry it, and, if Amazon carries it, you don't need Google to find it.

    • You could not be more wrong. Google was the first search engine that analyzed the links between pages rather than only the page contents. Lots of links to a page was comparable to having lots of "likes" in today's parlance. Pages with many outbound links also had significance. The results of taking links into consideration were dramatically better than everyone else's results. With my previous favourite search engine, AltaVista, I often went through more than five pages of results to find what I was looking
    • by dkf ( 304284 )

      Yes, pagerank is a great idea, and it was perhaps an improvement over what was being done before. But that wasn't why people abandoned the likes of Lycos and Yahoo(!) for Google back in the late 90's

      Bullcrap. That's exactly why people switched to Google. You got the answer you wanted in the first hit instead of maybe somewhere in the first 10 pages if you were very lucky. The problem was that before Google, people were statically giving each site a ranking and just ordering by that ranking; that might work for the most popular terms, but for anything even vaguely off the beaten track (i.e., a very large fraction of searches) then its totally shit. (There was also the old Yahoo! technique of manually cu

    • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Monday October 07, 2013 @03:17PM (#45062377) Homepage

      No. It was poor results from other engines. I seriously don't think you remember how bad search results were in the late 90's. It was like a light was switched on and suddenly the best of the Internet was illuminated. Before, AltaVista barely cut it. It was far too easy to game the simple keyword system.

  • Askjeeves tried to get people to ask their search engine questions in plain english, and through their failure, proved that people just don't like interacting with browser search engines that way. Processing queries for a service like Siri, however, would be a much better match for Watson's skills.

  • I'm guessing that an AI-type search would be MUCH more computationally intensive than a Google PageRank search (just guessing). I'm curious how the cost of providing that search would affect the profitability or commercial viability of using Watson technology for mass searching.

    Remember, to fuel a single searcher on Jeopardy it required racks of equipment. When you're making a few pennies a search - maybe - it might be some time until that equation makes sense.

  • Searching for code or for something with specific punctuation is often important to me.
  • Why would one assume IBM would try and create a competitive search product, instead, say, sell Watson to Google to improve Google's search, and then also sell Watson to Yahoo, and iCloud, and Bing, and every other search/cloud platform.

    Why throw your eggs into one basket when there are so many other people that have already baked the cake? IBM trying to compete with Google will fail, regardless if Watson is even better, however IBM helping to power Google, and others, is a huge win.

    IBM doesn't have the min

  • Given how IBM has been performing lately [], perhaps they should put Watson in charge of the company. Then the question of "whether it [IBM] wants to try and dethrone Google" can also be answered by Watson.
    • by mbone ( 558574 )

      That's my "revised Turing test" for AI : We will know that AI is successful when an AI is placed in charge of a major corporation.

      I think that that is much better than a test based on whether a machine can replicate human social interaction protocols.

  • If IBM were to get into search, it would be an expensive enterprise product. They don't do "commodity grade" anything. They just don't get the business concept.

  • It's pretty clear to me that IBM only care about a small number of things:
    1) Protecting management, particularly US based management, no matter what.
    2) Getting rid of costly first world employees (except in France, where lucky them, the law prevents this) and replacing them with much cheaper employees in India.
    3) Driving up the stock price by doing #2 repeatedly until there are no more first world employees left to cut who aren't management.

    I worked for a company who tried tactic #1 and #2. The c
  • Your government, your senior management, traffic authority or other institution of choice may all trust IBM, but the average user simply wont. Try to think of a single space in the last decade where IBM has been successful with end users within 10 seconds, can you do it?

    This can never compete with Google because the average user is never going to trust IBM. When the average non technical person thinks of IBM the first words that come to mind are probably "outsourcing", "India", "layoff's", "big brother", "b

  • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Monday October 07, 2013 @03:28PM (#45062523) Homepage

    A couple of points.

    First of all, RE PageRank... If people think PageRank is still all Google uses to process search results, they are living in a reality distortion bubble. PageRank is 20 years old, and everyone knows how it works. Google's algorithm relies on a lot more than PageRank, in fact PageRank is probably a very minor factor nowadays in what decides the top 50 results of a search.

    Second, search is about a lot more than answering questions, and this is what I think people still don't fully understand about why Google is what it is and why they own this field so much. Search is just as much about FINDING the actual question, as asking the question itself. When people go to Google they often don't actually KNOW the question yet, all they have is something they want to know about. The real questions come later.

    • When people go to Google they often don't actually KNOW the question yet, all they have is something they want to know about. The real questions come later.

      Well spotted - this is the sharp edge of Google's usefulness for me but I doubt I'd have ever put my finger on it, yet it was there all along. With that in mind I'm chuckling that one of my favourite quotes hasn't been correct for a long time now:

      Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
      Pablo Picasso

System checkpoint complete.