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Search engines have already became extremely important in our quest for information consumption. The time when one could realistically browse an index of all available information to find what he needs are long gone. Now we need a software agent to go through every available piece of info and find exactly what we need.
It is important to recognize that sufficiently high quality "search" is near indistinguishable from Artificial intelligence. Consider the following search queries, ranked in order of increasing intelligence:
- What web pages include the words "logistics," and "Seattle"?
- Who are logistics providers in Seattle?
- Who can ship a package the fastest and cheapest, from one of Seattle to the other?
- How should I ship this package to Lynnwood? I'm in a hurry.
- I need to comfort my mom. What should I do?
Search technology will improve over time, to provide us with more and more intelligent answers.
In the future we won't use search only for finding interesting Web-pages, we will be searching everywhere for everything. Search functions will become much more powerful and more integrated. Desktop search is one such new field. Reading about Google's ambitions one can catch a glimpse of a future where access to various online information is something that we need in every moment of our lives.
In the future a lot of information will be presented to the user based on the context of his situation before he even thinks he needs it. Just like today our subconscious provides helpful memories, ideas and hints based on what we experience, the smart agents running in our exocortices will be providing various information based on our environment and our activities.
- Watson searches for information online based on the content of the document you are editing.
- Remembrance Agent is a similar application for Emacs. It is a "plug-in that watches over your shoulder and suggests information relevant to what you're reading or writing. While search engines help with direct recall, Remem is a tool for associative memory." The page also have links to papers about just-in-time information retrieval.
The ability to answer questions in natural language (and especially having the search engine understand the question correctly) is also important.
- Brainboost is an interesting project in this field - it takes a normally phrased question and attempts to retrieve just the answer (with links to source pages).
Search Wikia Labs: Building a new open global search engine.
According to Jimmy Wales, the creator of Wikipedia, there are Four Organizing Principles (TCQP) - the future of Internet Search must be based on:
- Transparency - Openness in how the systems and algorithms operate, both in the form of open source licenses and open content + APIs.
- Community - Everyone is able to contribute in some way (as individuals or entire organizations), strong social and community focus.
- Quality - Significantly improve the relevancy and accuracy of search results and the searching experience.
- Privacy - Must be protected, do not store or transmit any identifying data. Search Wikia Website and forums
Alternative avenues for answers
People are increasingly looking for answers elsewhere. With the increasing popularity of blogs (or weblogs), people can now look for answers to there questions here. There are now even search engines that search blogs specifically such as http://www.ljfind.com . This service searches all livejournal blogs.
- Ms Dewey - a flash video-based search engine with an attractive female assistant providing answers.