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Eric Schmidt on the Future of Google Search

     
9:00 pm on Sep 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

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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.

12:17 pm on Sept 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

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haha - good plan! :)
1:02 pm on Sept 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

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One correct answer and 10 paid links to sites owned by people who think they can satisfy those users sufficiently to turn a dollar.

Or maybe you can have one answer for free but if you want to explore a subject you have to pay a subscription.

Perhaps what will happen is Google will research what everyone else has said in web pages and Google books and then create a page and send you to that.

Perhaps one day Google will own all knowledge and we will only be allowed to see a little bit of it as it would be dangerous for us to have too much knowledge. Google will decide what is a safe correct answer that will not provide us with anything that could be used against the great Goog monster.

Cheers

Sid

2:23 pm on Sept 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Why would you say something so ridicuous? By definition if YOU want dissenting viewpoints in the results, as you are saying here, then the ONE group of results for YOU would include them! If *I* don't want dissenting results, then my ONE group would not have any.

Yes, I understand that, and I have a problem with it. It's like a leader who is surrounded only by yes-men. People with narrow minds would go through life never realizing that not everyone thinks as they do. This phenomenon is already bad enough as it is without Google making it worse.

From Raising Arizona:

" -- Son, you're not just telling us what we want to hear are you?

-- No sir, no way.

-- Because we just wanna hear the truth.

-- Well then, sir, I guess I am telling you what you want to hear.

-- Now son, didn't we just tell you not to do that?

-- Yes sir.

-- Well OK then!"

Rather than that, I would much prefer to have everyone see the same set of results, and have those results reflect as much diversity of opinion as possible.

3:02 pm on Sept 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Now I'm educating my users about BING instead.

Maybe you're too young to remember the fuss that ensued when Microsoft introduced online updates and support for Windows. There were countless forum, Usenet, and listserv threads about how Microsoft was going to copy the data off users' hard drives for its own nefarious purposes. So how did we reach the point where Microsoft became benign and Google turned into the villain? A change in corporate behavior, or merely a change in perception and fashion?

3:25 pm on Sept 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Rather than that, I would much prefer to have everyone see the same set of results

Yes, but thats your preference. Some people would just rather see confirmation that they are right. Google enforcing an ethos, even if that ethos is diversity, is surely just as disturbing as selecting results the individual wants to see.
So how did we reach the point where Microsoft became benign and Google turned into the villain?

When the balance of power shifted. Google has access to more data, and critically the infrastructure to parse, analyse and reorder that data. MS also has the benefit of history where they DIDN'T actually abuse that particular position. OTOH, Google is making slightly worrying statements where they appear to imply they WISH to do this. There is intent, not just opportunity.
5:10 pm on Sept 10, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Again to note that the question that Schmidt used as an example in the article was a factual question with a more or less unambiguous answer. Even Schmidt's formulation of the example demonstrated an understanding of the ambiguity possible depending on how the question is asked....

...how many Americans have what percentage of Americans have passports?...

This "one answer" comment is not any overarching vision about the nature of truth or the ultimate invasive personalization.

12:14 am on Sept 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Google has been gathering data for 10 years.

Google has been yammering on about "personalization" for 5 years.

Google delivers different results when you log into your Google account compared to when you do not.

Some here are now suggesting Google intends to completely abandon what they have been doing, and do a complete *180 degree turn* to totally ignore personalization and instead serve the exact same result to everyone... regardless of location, habits, and the jillions of gallons of data Google has accumulated about individuals. And then after creating this strawman, these same people condemn Google for doing this something that is 180 degrees different than what they are actually doing!

That interpretation is illogical and distracts from what is actually going on, which is Google ongoing/longstanding devotion to the personalization boondoggle, and it's privacy implications.

12:52 pm on Sept 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Google undergoing changes very often. One cannot simply predict whats its going to be in the next 10 years by looking how it is today. The growth is exponential and unpredictable.
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