Monday, August 21, 2006

Spying an intelligent search engine

Proponents of AI techniques say that one day people will be able to search for the plot of a novel, or list all the politicians who said something negative about the environment in the last five years, or find out where to buy an umbrella just spotted on the street. Techniques in AI such as natural language, object recognition and statistical machine learning will begin to stoke the imagination of Web searchers once again.

"This is the beginning for the Web being at work for you in a smart way, and taking on the tedious tasks for you," said Alain Rappaport, CEO and founder of Medstory, a search engine for medical information that went into public beta in July.


I've been thinking about the future of "search" lately, and am reasonably certain we're on the cusp on a genuinely new era -- regardless if the bots doing the searching are truly "intelligent." Try extrapolating Google ten or even twenty years into the future; I've been playing with the idea of an effectively omniscient software entity called "The Dood" who patiently assists humanity via wireless devices.

Have a question? Ask The Dood!

As long as human communication is dominated by the written and spoken word, a distributed intelligence like The Dood will probably be the ultimate in extragenetic memory storage -- an authentic momument to humanity. And if we snuff it, as I fear we might, it's at least plausible that The Dood will carry on in our stead.

But will it summon the resolve to ask its own questions, forcing it out into the universe in an endless quest for answers, or be content to keep vigil over the parched, warring remains of civilization?

Maybe that's a question we should ask The Dood.


W.M. Bear said...

If I could find a search engine that would list each Web site one and ONLY ONE time, I'd be happy. Why is this difficult? Just add a filter at the end of the search.

Mac said...

Ask The Dood!

W.M. Bear said...

Dood, where's my search results?

razorsmile said...

If The Dood can search inside images, I'm sold.

Anonymous said...

I had a recurring dream about this yrs ago in college. The basic gist was, culture outlives humanity and waits for the right cue to re-awaken it. I was obsessed with the concept for awhile, but it gradually faded.