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Eric Schmidt on the Future of Google Search

   
9:00 pm on Sep 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Michael Arrington at TechCrunch published an interview with Google's CEO Eric Schmidt [techcrunch.com], under the sensational headline "Google CEO Eric Schmidt On The Future Of Search: Connect It Straight To Your Brain."

Long-term Borg ideation aside, the interview also contained Schmidt's comment about where he sees Google in ten years.

So I don't know how to characterize the next 10 years except to say that we'll get to the point - the long-term goal is to be able to give you one answer, which is exactly the right answer over time.

I am struck nearly dumb by that statement. The absurdity of thinking that there can even BE "the right answer" just jumped out at me. Has he been living with data so long that he lost touch with the real human world?

Organize the world's information? Maybe a bit grandiose, but an OK mission statement. Give us a tool to explore the world's information? That's more what I want from Google.

But tell us "the right answer" for any query? I shudder at the Orwellian vision. I am not having any of that, thank you very much.

I can only hope that he misspoke or his remarks were poorly reported.

7:52 pm on Sep 6, 2009 (gmt 0)



For any publisher, optimisation is increasingly about what you don't allow the engines to spider, as well as what you do.

It's also about how you package information. Facts are usually in the public domain, and they're usually available from any number of sources. If you can deliver information in a form that people want to read (and that encourages people to stick around or come back, as they do with Wikipedia or Internet Movie Database or THE NEW YORK TIMES), you'll gain a lot more from search engines than you lose.

8:43 pm on Sep 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



why cut him the slack ..

Based on lots of experience with interview material, I feel that the broad sweeping questions with which the article is framed simply don't match up with the minute specificity of the quoted answers or with my sense of Eric Schmidt as a speaker. I've heard Schmidt speak on numerous occasions, and he's simply much more articulate about visionary-type questions than the quotes used in the article suggest.

The initial question asked was...

"What are the hard things to be solved in search in the next ten years?"

The quote we're all kicking around, about one answer, sounds like it's a response to a follow-up question about how a natural language "Google Answers" type feature might work. I don't see it as Google's overall vision, or as an indication that Google is trying to brainwash us.

Looking at what Google has been doing... yes, the disambiguation of some queries, which in turn may limit the range of answers we can get, has been driving me nuts. I deeply hope that they will fix this.

But I also feel that Google has in fact strained to index a very broad range of information, and to present a broad and diverse spectrum of that material in its queries. That's simply not consistent with a one-answer-fits-all approach which is being predicted here. I suppose you can try to turn this inside out and say that an all-media-fits-all is essentially a one-answer-fits-all approach, but I'd have to respond that Google's attempt is to diversify, not to get simplistic about serps it returns for a query. Also, as has been pointed out, if Google were trying to maintain ad revenue, as I assume it must, it would not be distilling down its overall serps to a single-sentence, mini-Knol response.

The suggestions about data aggregation are something I'd be much more concerned about....

So you go to a very good definitive site. And what Id like to do is to get to the point where we could read his site and then summarize what it says, and answer the question ... Along with the citation and so forth and so on.

This is not the place to discuss data aggregation in general, except perhaps to say that it's been happening on the web in various ways since day one (or day two, anyway ;) )... that it has both drawbacks and benefits... that it's a societal issue, not just a web issue... and that it's increasingly prevalent. The Rich Snippets and Microformats discussion is one that I expect will continue and get more heated over the years.

Digital content can be easily copied. It's harder to copy, of course, if it can't be found.

...a viable alternative - non profit search engine

Be careful what you wish for. ;)

I'd love to see more competition out there, btw... and I'd love to see the Library of Congress doing some of the things that Google is now doing, but that too could be problematic.

11:10 pm on Sep 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



The quote we're all kicking around, about one answer, sounds like it's a response to a follow-up question...

Point taken, Robert. The whole thing would make more sense that way - and if that is indeed the situation, then Mr. Arrington did a pretty poor job. In fact, it is a pretty short article given that this was a one hour interview. I basically felt cheated first, and then I got upset by the quote.

11:32 pm on Sep 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



In fact, it is a pretty short article given that this was a one hour interview....

It's the second part of a series that Mr Arrington is dribbling out every few days.

I should say clearly that I was put off by the articles. With regard to Google, I don't know whether Arrington has an agenda or not. I can say that journalism often thrives on controversy, and artificially created controversy has become a modern disease.

I thought the "Connect It Straight To Your Brain" part of the title, eg, obviously intended by Schmidt as a joke (a joke which many friends have made as well), might have been opportunistically hyped to suggest a darker agenda. I don't know... I wasn't there... but a close reading of the article makes me, at least, think that it was milked for all it was (and wasn't) worth.

11:38 pm on Sep 6, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I'm waiting for Sooty to post in this thread ..or maybe Lamb Chop ..
5:18 am on Sep 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month Best Post Of The Month



>The absurdity of thinking that there can even BE
> "the right answer" just jumped out at me.

Of course there can be one right answer. Some times that answer may be multiple options. In ten years, computers will all have retinal or finger print scanners on them. When you set down, you will connect to "the cloud" of computing, by being scanned.

Google will know your entire 'search' history - probably your entire email history (gmail), tracked your life via gps (android), your preferences and tastes (google news), your browsing habits (chrome/toolbar) your purchasing habits (g checkout), and a host of other things there are to know about you.

Given all that, if you ask Google a question, they should be able to give you the 'one' answer you are looking for with a very high degree of certainty. There are currently around 6 billion people on the planet, and we all do the same stupid stuff. Sorry, we are not that unique. A couple thousand variations in the algo is probably all it will take to nail most of the human population. In ten years, Skynet will look like a Commodore 64.

5:52 am on Sep 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Of course there can be one right answer. Some times that answer may be multiple options.

But one right answer can't have multiple options. ;)

8:16 am on Sep 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



"But one right answer can't have multiple options."

Of course it can. If I search for the sexiest woman alive, it could feed me Jessica Biel results. If the guy across the street made th same search, the right answer for him would be Megan Fox.

There could be literally billions of "right" options to answer that query.

That's the easy part of personlization. The hard part, where the engines now fail totally, is trying to personalize searches like [barack obama] or [halley's comet].

[edited by: steveb at 8:44 am (utc) on Sep. 7, 2009]

10:26 am on Sep 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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sexiest woman alive...There could be literally billions of "right" options to answer that query.

You can just imagine the Divorce proceedings. "My Google search told me he wasn't my ideal husband, and his says I'm not the sexiest woman for him"
*************************************

Some questions with definate answers I look forward to resolving:
Will smoking kill me?
When will I die?
What is Bill Gates' Social Security number?
What is the solution to quantum gravity?
Why "42"?

10:43 am on Sep 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member beedeedubbleu is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Of course it can.

Where I come from one right answer is one right answer.

11:17 am on Sep 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



I think BT was suggesting any one person will have one right answer. "Behind the scenes" there are multiple answers, but only one get presented as determined by the personal preferences of the asker.

FWIW, I don't buy it either

11:46 am on Sep 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member steveb is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



"Where I come from one right answer is one right answer."

Are we the same age? The same height? Have the exact same interests?

If John in New York and Mary in Mongolia type in [local restaurants] it's absurd to pretend that the one right answer for John must be the same as the one right answer for Mary!

11:55 am on Sep 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If John in New York and Mary in Mongolia type in [local restaurants] it's absurd to pretend that the one right answer for John must be the same as the one right answer for Mary!

Agree, as far as it goes. But there is no "right" [best local restaurant] single result

11:57 am on Sep 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sem4u is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



These results may well be personalised to the searcher, e.g. if you search for a name of a steak restaurant of a certain quality, and then search for just "fish restaurant", you may well get back results of just fish restaurants of a similar quality to the steak restaurant.

If Google went onto buy Facebook or Twitter, then they can find out even more about you. Facebook PPC targeting is scarily good. I am a fan of a band on there and sometimes ads show for a rival group...also they show me ads for things SEO related...

1:49 pm on Sep 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



the sledge hammer to crack a nut scenario. While some questions are improved when you know something about the asker most answers are reduced in scope if you always try and narrow the answer to what you know of the asker.
In the real world with real AI (which is what they are trying to emulate) you would ask the question, which is the best restaurant for me and the source would then ask the pertinent questions such as do you want a local restaurant? Do you want a particular type of cuisine, what is your budget range. Thats how AI works. They do not assume the answers to all the afor mentioned detail requests first and then give you their idea of what you are probably looking for based on what the majority would have answered to those questions.
So if you type in local restaurants dont assume local is where i am now or have been in the past, just ask me. Just add a couple of steps to truly tailor the results because otherwise im having to do that anyway by adding stuff to my search term.
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