Saturday, March 15, 2008

Google - “A Prediction Shop”?

Google is almost “Human”.

Internet psychologist Graham Jones in his post on his website on 13th March’08 says psychologists prove Google is almost “Human”. He supported his conclusion on the research done by researchers at University of California, Berkley.

An excerpt of the research report said:

“Human memory and Internet search engines face a shared computational problem, needing to retrieve stored pieces of information in response to a query. We explored whether they employ similar solutions, testing whether we could predict human performance on a fluency task using PageRank, a component of the Google search engine. In this task, people were shown a letter of the alphabet and asked to name the first word beginning with that letter that came to mind. We show that PageRank, computed on a semantic network constructed from word-association data, outperformed word frequency and the number of words for which a word is named as an associate as a predictor of the words that people produced in this task. We identify two simple process models that could support this apparent correspondence between human memory and Internet search, and relate our results to previous rational models of memory.”

So now my question is: Is this good or bad for me, as a search user?

Good Side: If I am thinking of some specific term in my mind and I google that term, in most probability google shows me the most relevant response. Wow it is good! Well it’s based on there algorithms, their experiments, their learning from data of masses and billions of queries and web history and many more reasons. So in a way I am happy that I got what I wanted. So google is not evil and truly giving me very precise search results.

Bad Side or Not? If google can give me the relevant search results of the stuff that I am searching for, does that also mean that they knew at one point of time in future I am going to search that? Something like a predictive search? And if yes, if they know what I am going to search for that means, they are going to serve me that even without me searching for it eg: If they know that I won a online marketing contest and previously I have been searching for a vacation in Thailand, so are they not going to serve me ads on Vacation Planning and special tours in Thailand?

Now this is debatable. Should I be happy about Google knowing that I am planning for a holiday in Thailand and they offering me relevant tour operators who can help me find a good package or should I be left alone to decide on my own through my research to find the best for me?

Last but not the least…So will a Machine algorithm take over Human Mind, and will google become a prediction shop?

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