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Xerox's PARC licenses natural language tech to search engine startup

     
9:29 am on Feb 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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from the ny times [nytimes.com]:
On Friday, PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) is announcing a deal that (it) is licensing a broad portfolio of patents and technology to a well-financed start-up with an ambitious and potentially lucrative goal: to build a search engine that could some day rival Google.

The start-up, Powerset, is licensing PARC’s “natural language” technology — the art of making computers understand and process languages like English or French. Powerset hopes the technology will be the basis of a new search engine that allows users to type queries in plain English, rather than using keywords.

1:48 pm on Feb 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The list of investors is interesting.
3:25 pm on Feb 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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users to type queries in plain English, rather than using keywords

I guess I've been searching with keywords for so long that I don't quite understand what the difference is between "queries in plain english" and "keywords".

What is the difference? If I'm searching for a search engine consultant I think I will always type in "search engine consultant". What would be the "query in plain english" for my search term?

4:22 pm on Feb 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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"Who is the best search engine consultant in the state?"
5:25 pm on Feb 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'm looking for an SEO consultant who has several articles published in mainstream business publications and has Fortune-500 clients. I'd like him to specialize in sports sites.
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Why is this better than keywords?

With keywords, there's no understanding that you are looking for an SEO consultant. You might be looking for mainstream business publications. You might be looking for sports sites. To a keyword search engine, these are just words without meaning.

Pick apart the meaning, and the search engine can show you the SEO consultant who has had articles published - not the articles themselves. Or the sports sites.

BTW, I just Googled my query above. (As is, as sentences.) It failed miserably. Not a single SEO consultant in the result. Mostly articles ABOUT SEO. Sure, I might pour through the articles and find a likely candidate. But Google didn't return what I want because it doesn't even have a simple undertanding of subjects and objects.

1:41 am on Feb 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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They should hire "Jeeves"