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Could IBM's Watson Put Google In Jeopardy?

samzenpus posted 1 year,17 days | from the leader-of-the-pack dept.

Google 274

theodp writes "Over at Wired, Vashant Dhar poses a provocative question: What If IBM's Watson Dethroned the King of Search? 'If IBM did search,' Dhar writes, 'Watson would do much better than Google on the tough problems and they could still resort to a simple PageRank-like algorithm as a last resort. Which means there would be no reason for anyone to start their searches on Google. All the search traffic that makes Google seemingly invincible now could begin to shrink over time.' Mixing supercomputers with a scalable architecture of massive amounts of simple processors and storage, Dhar surmises, would provide a formidable combination of a machine that can remember, know, and think. And because the costs of switching from Google search would not be prohibitive for most, the company is much more vulnerable to disruption. 'The only question,' Dhar concludes, 'is whether it [IBM] wants to try and dethrone Google from its perch. That's one answer Watson can't provide.'"

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Google, really? (4, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | 1 year,17 days | (#45060959)

Watson? Jeopardy?

Does that mean we have to enter the answer an he gives us the question?

42?

Re:Google, really? (3, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061245)

More importantly, was this headline conceived specifically to foil machine-learning methods for inferring meaning from context? This seems profound in its poignancy.

Re:Google, really? (5, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061455)

Of course Watson will be able to do this.

Obviously, Dhar did a bunch of research, and determined that even though it took a massively powerful computer to answer one question at a time that has a predetermined single answer, over several seconds, it can trivially scale to support millions of simultaneous queries, which may have zero, one or multiple answers.

Re:Google, really? (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061557)

If you remember the blatant IBM marketing material that was interspersed with the Jeopardy episodes, they had planned from the start for Watson to be scalable (one of the first applications was medical literature search)—and if you remember the episodes themselves, you'd realise that it's a tad silly to suggest it couldn't handle cases with zero or multiple answers, since it performs Bayesian reasoning on a huge pool of possible hits and simply announced the best one.

But Watson isn't, wasn't, and would never make sense as a simple search engine like Google; it's more like Ask Jeeves in its intended use; the internet is its source text. And do keep in mind that TFS even suggests performing a Google-style search as a fallback mode. (You did actually read something about this before posting, right?)

Re:Google, really? (4, Interesting)

aaronb1138 (2035478) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061831)

It would make more sense to make a Page-rank (Google style) search the default and make an intelligent Watson answer system a premium micro-payment based ($2-20 yearly for 1k queries or so). Then use to Watson derived answers to boost the page-rank result quality.

This is more or less, what Wolfram is already trying to sell, though their parsing and indexing engine is weak compared to Watson and Google respectively.

Re:Google, really? (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061627)

In all fairness, Watson has been used in medical contexts where it ranks its suggested diagnoses and treatments (multiple answers, not just one right answer). It also runs on 1 server now, instead of 75. But no, I don't think it's going to scale up to beat Google anytime soon. If/when IBM says they are doing so, that's another story.

Re:Google, really? (2)

Aighearach (97333) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061885)

If we assume that google would be able to match them server for server, there is no reason to believe that Watson is any better in the aggregate. We only know about how it scales vertically. Just because Watson is better at Jeopardy and medical research doesn't mean they'd even be competitive at internet search; unless this is a thought experiment where we pretend IBM spends all their money on supercomputers for search, and Google doesn't change or respond.

Re:Google, really? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061691)

Even if they can scale Watson up 1 billion times, that would solve nothing. Searching documents on the Internet is not that hard, in fact it's largely speaking a solved problem; especially when you add website browsing data (Google toolbar etc.) and click rates on the SERP to the traditional page-rank information derived from the link structure.

What is fiendishly hard is maintaining good relevance of your results in the face of a human, adapting and immensely rich adversary: the SEO industry. In that regard, Google algorithms are less about science and more about proprietary voodoo that only work if no one knows how they work. Kind of like the stock market, the search industry is infinitely reflexive and you can make a profit if you know what everybody thinks everybody else is thinking (and so on).

It would take just about a week for the SEO industry to find out what makes Watson tick and compel him to spew Viagra links for any search query.

Re:Google, really? (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061251)

Watson will never displace Google, because of agendas, not technology.

Google will spy on the people.

Watson will manage their placement with FEMA.

Re:Google, really? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061331)

Watson will manage their placement with FEMA.....

Google's engine is highly tweaked with exception handling. Watson would smack your hand and say: fuck off, am I a search engine or an Internet pimp?

Re:Google, really? (2)

RenderSeven (938535) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061513)

Watson? Jeopardy?

Jeopardy, as in "I'll try 'Silly Unsubstantiated Conjectures' for $400"

I don't search using this search engine. (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061523)

An IBM developed Jeopardy playing supercomputer. A popular TV game show in which players must give the questions corresponding to a displayed answer.

Maybe.

42.

Re:Google, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061559)

What is 21 * 2?

References? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45060963)

The difference is, that Google does not tell the answer. It just gives you a link to the answer. So if the answer is wrong, you cannot blame Google.
What about Watson?

Vajk

ps: also the last thing I would say about pagerank is being simple

Re:References? (2)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061143)

The difference is, that Google does not tell the answer.

It does on an android. Ask it the current temperature and it will tell you -- in centigrade, which is pretty dumb since it knows I'm in Illinois and we use Fahrenheit for air temperature here. You have to specify Fahrenheit. When they had the floods in Colorado I pulled out my phone and asked the elevation of Colorado Springs and it told me. I asked it how far it was to Bellville and it said "94 miles" which surprised me; I was expecting kilometers since it answers temperature with Centigrade.

It has trouble with "fur lined gloves", it thinks you're saying "for lined gloves" with laughable results.

Re:References? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061203)

I just asked google now and it answered me in Fahrenheit. I was hoping it would be in celsius. I am in the USA, but simply prefer better system of measure.

Re:References? (1, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061487)

Except there's nothing "better" about Celcius, it's just a different arbitrary standard.

Re:References? (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061495)

Save for that fact that it makes sense. It is based on water a common material we are all familiar with and uses a nice 0-100 scale.

Yeah, other than that there is nothing better about it.

Re:References? (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061673)

Yes, and when do you ever see outdoor temperatures over 50 or 60 on the Celcius scale? (never) And when do you see negative temperatures on the Celsius scale (all the time unless you live in a hot area)?

Fahrenheit has better resolution and scale for human temperatures. If it's over 100 or under 0, the weather is "extreme". Not so with Celsius. And it has roughly double the resolution.

Re:References? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061807)

You realize that the temperature can have decimal places added right?

Farenheit like the mile needs to go.

Re:References? (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061689)

Yep, and also the fact that it uses the same magnitude degree as the kelvin which is the S.I. base unit for temperature.

Re:References? (1)

capedgirardeau (531367) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061699)

It is also better in the sense that the individual units represent a wider range of temperature.

So you can actually tell the difference between say... 15C and 16C but there really is little meaningful difference between say 71F and 72F.

I can live without any of the rest of the metric system, but for temperature, it is significantly more useful.

Re:References? (2)

beatljuice (735526) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061701)

While I agree the metric system is almost always better, I disagree in this instance. Celsius is much less granular. If I set my thermostat (granted, it's a cheep one) using Celsius it will keep the correct temperature, but I'm much more likely to be hot or cold because there can be as much as a 3 degree (Fahrenheit) difference. within the Celsius measure. Yes, thermostats can be designed that use fractions (most probably are) but mine's not.

Re:References? (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061845)

You keep your home within 3 degrees F all year round?

What does that cost?

In the winter I tend to keep it around 15C and in the summer 25C. I prefer not to spend that much on heating and cooling. I already own appropriate clothing for the weather in my area.

Re:References? (1, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061263)

You selected celsius at some time.

Open google now, say ok google "What is the current temperature", when it responds click on the F instead of the C. The next time you ask it will use that preference.

Re:References? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061631)

It only gave an answer because you asked an extremely common question that it was programmed to answer. Restate the question as 'Based on today's forecast, should I wear a Polo shirt or a sweater' and see what the 'answer' is. That is the type of question Watson is aiming for.

License tech to Google (4, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | 1 year,17 days | (#45060967)

It's probably much more profitable for IBM to license the technology to Google/Yahoo/MSFT/whoever than it would be for IBM to build search infrastructure.

Re:License tech to Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061301)

Google is probably working on their own version.

IBM's business model is completely different from Google's - they don't know anything about serving millions of hits and collecting money from targeted ads. They want to sell packaged software and appliances with support licenses for 7-9 figures USD per customer.

Re:License tech to Google (1)

alexgieg (948359) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061311)

It's probably much more profitable for IBM to license the technology to Google/Yahoo/MSFT/whoever than it would be for IBM to build search infrastructure.

I guess Google doesn't want to license the technology, they want to own it. If it were something that anyone could own they'd lose their edge. They've been hiring AI researchers, including Ray Kurzweil [wikipedia.org] last December, for just this purpose. IBM's Watson is the baseline they want to surpass and stand out from once their competitors all start using "mere" Watson-levels of AI-powered search. ;-)

Re:License tech to Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061541)

I would have to agree. The whole article is an opinion piece that just sounds like a business proposal to get Google and/or even Microsoft to buy Watson technology. Some light googling would yield that the Stern School of Business at NYU, the place where the author of the article actually works, has lots of connections to IBM. Not to mention that IBM has launched a new Advanced Analytics Center in New York City.

Re:License tech to Google (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061611)

Didn't Google just hired Ray Kurzwiel to do this in-house?

Silly question (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,17 days | (#45060969)

Of course not. It's an IBM machine, they'll sell Google as many as Google wants to buy. Of course, so can Microsoft but they don't have a good track record at all.

I wish Google did have a Watson. This morning I asked my Android "where can I buy a good pair of fur-lined leather gloves" and it thought I said "where can I buy a good pair of for lined leather gloves" and returned no useful results at all. The programmer was a southerner, I guess? "How much does them go fer?"

Amazing what it does get right, but Google, buy a few Watsons!

Re:Silly question (2)

Merk42 (1906718) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061195)

That has to do with speech recognition, something Watson (at least at the time of the Jeopardy filming) didn't have at all.

Re:Silly question (1)

gravis777 (123605) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061249)

In your case, it would be better for Google to license Siri than Watson.

Re:Silly question (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061261)

But where can one buy a less hackneyed, less provincial perspective?

Re:Silly question (3, Funny)

H0p313ss (811249) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061269)

Tried this with Siri,not only did it find people selling fur-lined leather gloves, it also found photos of models wearing skimpy dresses with gloves on.

I'm sure there's a deeper meaning here.

Re:Silly question (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061287)

This morning I asked my Android "where can I buy a good pair of fur-lined leather gloves" and it thought I said "where can I buy a good pair of for lined leather gloves" and returned no useful results at all. The programmer was a southerner, I guess? "How much does them go fer?"

No it actually thought you wanted to buy "purloined" leather gloves. The programmer is a Sherlock Holmes afficianado.

Re:Silly question (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061819)

The programmer is a Sherlock Holmes afficianado.

In a thread about Watson, we have now come full circle!

Re:Silly question (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061421)

Maybe Google is just implementing its don't be evil policy by trying to reduce the consumption of animal murder products to sickos like you.

Re:Silly question (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061587)

No southerner would buy fur-lined leather gloves.

Better searches no good if they're too slow (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | 1 year,17 days | (#45060977)

Watson was a supercomputer answering basically one question at a time. You can't apply that level of compute time to every single query without bankrupting yourself on hardware costs. With time computer cycles will become cheaper and this will be more realistic, but today's technology just isn't there.

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (2)

arth1 (260657) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061041)

Indeed. Watson cannot answer millions of queries per second.
Google is deliberately simple so it can.

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061793)

Sure it can:

Redirect 301 /ibmwatsonsearch.html http://www.google.com

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061899)

Absolutely opposite.
All you need of Watson is to simplify its algorithm.
And it can scale well, just not on commodity hardware.
They could port it to a commidity platform, and just throw machines at it,
literally, all the wasted cycles on IBM Machines world wide?

Anyone remember AltaVista?

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061075)

It's also a completely different problem from information retrieval in a messy domain like "all documents on the internet". Watson is built mainly out of more structured data: dictionaries, almanacs, atlases, Wikipedia infoboxes, etc. It turns this into a huge database of knowledge, and then does inference on that database to try to answer Jeopardy-style questions posed in natural language. But this doesn't even try to tackle the other side of the natural language problem, which is parsing not only a natural-language query, but the entire contents of the internet.

In short, Watson might compete in the Wolfram Alpha space, of retrieving structured knowledge from databases, but not, at least not without a major overhaul, in the general document search space.

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (1)

racermd (314140) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061235)

Good point. And this is also ignoring that the question is rather moot, anyway. Google's dominance in the search-engine game isn't as important as it once was. Their other service offerings, like GMail, Maps, etc., are FAR more important to the company that the search engine and portal. Even *if* a competitor comes along and de-thrones Google from the search space, Google has far more going on in other aspects of its business to worry about it for more than a few minutes. Watson de-throning Google in search isn't going to disrupt Google as much as the original article might suggest.

Google's main income is ad revenue in those products, including search. The users are the product being sold to advertisers. As long as Google can keep getting eyeballs on ads, no matter the service offering, their income stream is safe.

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061733)

Um, no. The ad revenue from search dwarfs all Google's other ad revenues put together. (you look for the numbers, I'm too lazy) Anybody who knows what they are doing selects "search-only" for their Google AdWords campaigns.

When I am looking at maps, I want to go somewhere. When I check my email, I want to read my emails. But when I am doing a general Google search, there is a non-zero probability that I would like to buy something.

Some eyeballs are worth more than others.

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061081)

Exactly, it can be seen how much time does it require for Watson to anwser questions even on a pocket supercomputer. It can't even come close to Google's scale.

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061089)

Yeah, that's the killer right there. Until Watson-level parsing and research can be done on the sort of scale that Google handles, I doubt it'll matter. The most vulnerable search engines would be something like Wolfram Alpha, which take much longer to process queries and are specifically about making more advanced connections between topics and keywords. I very much doubt IBM has any interest in fighting Wolfram Alpha though, as the market's just not there.

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061207)

And you can be certain that Google is working on their own 'Watson' tech, so when the hardware is ready, they'll be able to do it.

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (2, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061397)

And you can be certain that Google is working on their own 'Watson' tech, so when the hardware is ready, they'll be able to do it.

Not just working on... has deployed, in a small way, to the degree that current capabilities can support on a massive scale.

That's what Google's Knowledge Graph work is about, and its work on natural language processing of search queries (including spoken queries). Google web search doesn't have Watson-level understanding, yet, but it has already moved well beyond the string matching + page ranking that the article supposes and is continuing to progress. Indeed, that progress is the source of many of the complaints about Google search here on slashdot. It has gotten much smarter, which makes it more effective in general, but means that it's less effective when what you want is a simple string search (though you can turn on verbatim mode to fix that).

(Disclaimer: I work for Google but not on anything related to this article or thread.)

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061491)

I work for Google but not on anything related to this article or thread

Oh, please focus on fixing bugs

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (1)

swillden (191260) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061903)

I work for Google but not on anything related to this article or thread

Oh, please focus on fixing bugs

Hehe. I doubt that you are affected by any of the bugs I fix, though. Not that you notice, anyway :-)

Re:Better searches no good if they're too slow (1)

Derekloffin (741455) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061237)

This, this, and more this. People seem to always forget that you don't get exclusive access to something like this on the net. It is like guys going gaga over the cloud and misapplying the possibilities, completely ignoring that you have to server thousands, perhaps even millions of requests at once.

Is this what Wired does now? (3, Informative)

MikeTheGreat (34142) | 1 year,17 days | (#45060981)

Well, I guess I'm glad to see it's not just /. that's past it's prime :/
I mean, seriously - "What is someone else made a better search engine? ALL TRAFFIC WOULD GO THERE AND GOOGLE WOULD DIE" just seems so.... speculative.
(Maybe Wired has added a Creative Writing section since I last read it?)

Re:Is this what Wired does now? (1)

gravis777 (123605) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061265)

Um, in my experience, this is EXACTLY the type of stuff I would expect to see from Wired. I used to go dislexic and thought it said Weird.

Re:Is this what Wired does now? (1)

MikeTheGreat (34142) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061439)

I gotta admit that it's been a very long time since I actually read Wired, but I remember them having more interesting stories about tech and fewer sensational pieces. The summary makes it sound like something I'd see on my local TV news station ("GOOGLE: IT MIGHT DIE??!?!??? Tune in after these advertisements to watch us speculate!").

item is just pure speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45060989)

nay as well be what if new technology is invented tomorrow that threatens buggy makers with horseless carriages.

Re:item is just pure speculation (1)

mevets (322601) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061653)

Trouble parsing this....
        buggy makers == microsoft
ok, I get that, cute.
        horseless carriages == google
?

Too busy worrying about apps (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | 1 year,17 days | (#45060995)

They don't have time to invade Google's search domain - they are too busy trying to keep people from ditching their apps!

Whirlpool switches to Google Apps [slashdot.org]

Too much CPU required (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061043)

Think of how much additional computing power this would require. Making Watson open to the public would either require too much hardware, or be too expensive. Plus, does IBM was to build the same infrastructure as Google? I think not.

What would work, if Google licensed Watson from IBM for a premium search service.

It's not about the engine (1, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061055)

The database is much more important than the engine, and IBM can't compete with Google on that one.

Re:It's not about the engine (1)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061189)

crawling the web to build the database is trivial

scaling watson up to hundreds of millions of users is the problem

Except this is IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061085)

They will deliver the best in 2013 search by 2045. Searches will only cost $45 per query, and results will be emailed to you (most of the time).

Re:Except this is IBM (2)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061345)

And, if you malform a search string, you will get an error along the lines of

AEKJ6952 : Illegal Register Overflow

Probably not search (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061093)

More like put wolfram alpha and parts of Wikipedia in a different position. Google would still be the go to for search. I do like the idea of IBM.com or Watson.com boldly becoming a tranquil place to find answers.

Re:Probably not search (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061429)

I do like the idea of IBM.com or Watson.com boldly becoming a tranquil place to find answers.

Incense and windchimes... can we patent this?

Watson? (0)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061109)

Vaporware.... Meanwhile I have been using Bing for three months now and can't see much difference from Google. Just about the only thing that Google search still has that I miss on Bing is a few advanced features like the ability to limit searches to specified time periods. Their image search is also pretty good, I get fewer hits but also less garbage/noise. Bing maps isn't quite up to par with Google maps but they do have better maps in some out-of-the-way places where I spend my time and Bing translator is if anything even better than Google translate.

IBM PR Machine fired up (1)

Sez Zero (586611) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061111)

So, a few stories below we have the "Whirlpool's 30,000 users move to Google" and now we get an "IBM Could Crush Google" story? No, that's no suspicious at all.

What if IBM did search? (1)

Tony Isaac (1301187) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061173)

What if Apple did maps? Oh yeah, they did! They made maps beautiful! But they aren't exactly dethroning Google Maps.

What does Watson have to do with search? Watson is amazing, but applying what it does well, to improving search, would likely be as monumental a task as creating Watson itself.

Watson is more PR than IR tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061175)

Watson does not have any significantly improved IR technology. It's a PR machine and nothing more useful than the crap IBM, Cisco, etc. futurist commercials on TV promising tech that if invented would not be related or coming from those said companies.

first? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061221)

first!

This sounds like an excuse for a joint venture. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061257)

Microsoft and IBM, back from the dead.

Sick of 'smart' searches (5, Insightful)

RandomUsername99 (574692) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061273)

I'm getting a bit sick of 'smart' searches... or, rather, not being able to disable the 'smartness.' More often than not, I really don't want a search engine making assumptions about what I meant, rather than just taking what I enter completely literally, and I *never* want it to insert results that don't contain all of my search terms because it scored exponentially better with the other items in the query. Chances are, I added in the term they were ignoring, specifically, to drastically reduce the number of results I got, because I wanted to *narrow it down*.

Maybe I'm a curmudgeon, but I would rather tweak the search to narrow down crap results than try to outsmart the 'smartness' any day of the week. I understand that this isn't necessarily what John Q. Internetuser is looking for in search, but at least having the option there would be a big help. Google used to have a very straightforward syntax to help you modify your search results in specific, predictable ways... while much of that syntax is still valid in google searches, now it seems like everything can be arbitrarily overridden by what google thinks you 'should' have meant, rather than what you told it you meant. Very frustrating.

Re:Sick of 'smart' searches (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061383)

Try DuckDuckGo.

Re:Sick of 'smart' searches (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061791)

As a MLIS, Google drives me nuts. I finally master the standard search operators and then Google comes in and either tries to outguess me or applies non-standard behavior with them.

Adventures in surmising (2)

Empiric (675968) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061277)

Which means there would be no reason for anyone to start their searches on Google.

Sure there is. Start with what led Google to dominate search in the first place--interface minimalism. Google has become very good at returning results based on a minimal number of keywords about the desired topic; forming a question around the topic of interest is slowing one down in terms of keystrokes. And, generally, an answer to a specific question is not at all what one actually wants. What is sought is sources of information about a topic, for which a listing of highly-relevant links is superior to a single "the" answer. Is there anyone who doesn't type topic keywords over literal specific questions at, at minimum, a 20-to-1 ratio? No one I know.

... Dhar surmises, would provide a formidable combination of a machine that can remember, know, and think.

But to simplify the issue, we have this. "Surmising" that Watson, or any known technology, can do any of the above disqualifies him from any commentary on any such technological issue or endeavor.

ah no (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061281)

The point of Google search is not to provide the best possible search results, it's point is to make money. If Watson were a search engine and provided great results, that'd be fine, but how would they make money off of that? People would spend less time on their site, they wouldn't be able to insert paid adds into your search, and the hardware for the engine would cost far more than what google needs. It wouldn't be profitable at all.

Google? (1)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061295)

I don't use Google search, so Watson isn't going to overthrow it for me, but it does come to mind that there is more to running a search engine than being able to do a good job answering one person's questions. In other words, does it scale?

Re:Google? (1)

techprophet (1281752) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061521)

Does it scale? Who cares if it scales? The real question is does it run linux?

Don't read much huh. Yes, Watson runs on Linux. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061719)

http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/open-source-insider/2013/08/ibm-watson-open-source-served-in-a-linux-box.html

You don't understand Google (4, Insightful)

T.E.D. (34228) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061315)

This betrays a very basic misunderstaning about how Google got where it is, and how it stays there.

Yes, pagerank is a great idea, and it was perhaps an improvement over what was being done before. But that wasn't why people abandoned the likes of Lycos and Yahoo(!) for Google back in the late 90's. Back then all the other search engines had gone to practices that were quite frankly user-abusive. Adds were placed all over the place, including an indeterminate amount of the top hits on your search. The search screens themselves also existed mostly to pump ads at you, and were really clunky, with a large amount of confusing options right there on the main search page.

Google, by contrast, had a main search page with no options whatsoever. Just a text box and a couple of buttons. "Breath of fresh air" doesn't even begin to describe how wonderful to use this was compared to what we were used to. On top of that, the search results were clearly delineated from the ads, so you could trust the results. The "don't be evil" motto was obviously infused into the whole effort. Every competitor was just a giagantic pain to use by comparison. "Page rank" or whatever wifty algorithim used for all this was something that nobody but extreme techies (and marketers) really ever gave a crap about.

So if you've got something that you think competes with Google, you'd better be talking about how nice and clean the interface is by comparison, how much easier it is to find real results without having to wade around ads, and how trustworthy the provider is wrt not allowing marketing weasels to buy their way into my search results. If you aren't talking about any of that, frankly nobody gives a crap.

Re:You don't understand Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061553)

Wrong. People used Google because it worked really well, and still does. It has nothing to do with ads or clunky UI. People care about what works better.

Re:You don't understand Google (1)

kanwisch (202654) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061603)

This betrays a very basic misunderstaning about how Google got where it is, and how it stays there.

Yes, pagerank is a great idea, and it was perhaps an improvement over what was being done before. But that wasn't why people abandoned the likes of Lycos and Yahoo(!) for Google back in the late 90's. Back then all the other search engines had gone to practices that were quite frankly user-abusive. Adds were placed all over the place, including an indeterminate amount of the top hits on your search. The search screens themselves also existed mostly to pump ads at you, and were really clunky, with a large amount of confusing options right there on the main search page.

Google, by contrast, had a main search page with no options whatsoever. Just a text box and a couple of buttons. "Breath of fresh air" doesn't even begin to describe how wonderful to use this was compared to what we were used to. On top of that, the search results were clearly delineated from the ads, so you could trust the results. The "don't be evil" motto was obviously infused into the whole effort. Every competitor was just a giagantic pain to use by comparison. "Page rank" or whatever wifty algorithim used for all this was something that nobody but extreme techies (and marketers) really ever gave a crap about.

So if you've got something that you think competes with Google, you'd better be talking about how nice and clean the interface is by comparison, how much easier it is to find real results without having to wade around ads, and how trustworthy the provider is wrt not allowing marketing weasels to buy their way into my search results. If you aren't talking about any of that, frankly nobody gives a crap.

I don't think "the next BIG search thing" needs to do better at interface design and marketing control. Instead, they need to match Google there and provide something novel of which we not thought.

Re:You don't understand Google (2)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061687)

You do realize that those days are long gone?

I don't normally use google for search, but I fired it up and entered "fur lined leather gloves" (see above) as a trial.

On the first page, "above the fold" (i.e., what I can see without scrolling), there are

11 ads
1 dialog box for some new feature I don't care about and
1 actual search result, for Amazon.

As I am aware that Amazon is a company that sells many different things, and as ads are not search,
Google search actually returned nothing interesting to me at all. As always, YMMV, but this seems entirely typical to me in the new world of search.

Re:You don't understand Google (1)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061815)

On top of that, the search results were clearly delineated from the ads, so you could trust the results.

If you believe that that is sufficient to trust the results, I guess you haven't been searching much recently. Google makes (AFAICT) no attempt to weed out click-farm type fake vendors. (They have to know who they are, as they sell ads to them, and have enough data to figure out who is just shuffling customers off to another site.) That makes searching for something almost hopeless unless the big vendors carry it, and, if Amazon carries it, you don't need Google to find it.

Siri would be a better target. (1)

RandomUsername99 (574692) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061337)

Askjeeves tried to get people to ask their search engine questions in plain english, and through their failure, proved that people just don't like interacting with browser search engines that way. Processing queries for a service like Siri, however, would be a much better match for Watson's skills.

Search efficiency may be a problem (1)

MadCow42 (243108) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061385)

I'm guessing that an AI-type search would be MUCH more computationally intensive than a Google PageRank search (just guessing). I'm curious how the cost of providing that search would affect the profitability or commercial viability of using Watson technology for mass searching.

Remember, to fuel a single searcher on Jeopardy it required racks of equipment. When you're making a few pennies a search - maybe - it might be some time until that equation makes sense.

Can it search punctuation? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061389)

Searching for code or for something with specific punctuation is often important to me.

Re:Can it search punctuation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061569)

Searching for code or for something with specific punctuation is often important to me.

You might want to try Symbolhound [symbolhound.com] .

Why? (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061417)

Why would one assume IBM would try and create a competitive search product, instead, say, sell Watson to Google to improve Google's search, and then also sell Watson to Yahoo, and iCloud, and Bing, and every other search/cloud platform.

Why throw your eggs into one basket when there are so many other people that have already baked the cake? IBM trying to compete with Google will fail, regardless if Watson is even better, however IBM helping to power Google, and others, is a huge win.

IBM doesn't have the mindset to create a consumer based product. Everything they have done consumer wise has failed, it only makes sense for IBM to power the search engines and clouds in the future.

history lesson time: ibm and the nazis (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061471)

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust

Pagerank kind of sucks nowadays (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061533)

Pagerank used to be better. Then they started "optimizing" it around summer 2004. It became more and more fuzzy, and nowadays it often gives you results that absolutely don't contain any of your search terms :(

The problem is, they are tuning the search engine to respond better to the most common "MILUS CYRUS BOOBS" type of queries instead of ones that are not about superficial low quality shit. I mostly search for programming stuff, and to make things bearable I have to resort to using "site:stackoverflow.com" on like half of my queries...

Mediocre people shouldn't have been let on internet.

Maybe they should let Watson decide (1)

gregor-e (136142) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061555)

Given how IBM has been performing lately [yahoo.com] , perhaps they should put Watson in charge of the company. Then the question of "whether it [IBM] wants to try and dethrone Google" can also be answered by Watson.

Re:Maybe they should let Watson decide (1)

mbone (558574) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061865)

That's my "revised Turing test" for AI : We will know that AI is successful when an AI is placed in charge of a major corporation.

I think that that is much better than a test based on whether a machine can replicate human social interaction protocols.

Consumer-grade search? That's beneath IBM. (1)

ebunga (95613) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061743)

If IBM were to get into search, it would be an expensive enterprise product. They don't do "commodity grade" anything. They just don't get the business concept.

Re:Consumer-grade search? That's beneath IBM. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061879)

They don't get the business concept

Yep, and Apple 'just doesn't get' the concept of making mainframes. And Walmart 'just doesn't get' the concept of selling mining equipment. And Google 'just doesn't get' the concept of making fighter jets.

Insane? (1)

IwantToKeepAnon (411424) | 1 year,17 days | (#45061789)

So Watson starts talking to people and "reading" the internet to understand it and becomes truly intelligent and sentient. I was going to go with a Skynet joke at this point, but reconsidered. So now this new intelligent life form is forced to read youtube and facebook "comments", political arguments, tumblr, and porn sites and goes completely insane.

Then what ... ? We have to pull the plug, we create a new life form and then cause its extinction? Sounds about par for the course.

What about Lotus Notes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,17 days | (#45061809)

Maybe they could start by fixing Lotus Notes' search function first...

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