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Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.
World-renowned artificial intelligence expert and Google’s new Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, wants to build a search engine so sophisticated that it could act like a ‘cybernetic friend,’ who knows users better than they know themselves. “I envision in some years that the majority of search queries will be answered without you actually asking,” he said at an intimate gathering at Singularity University’s NASA campus.
Kurzweil, a noted futurist and engineer, tells me in a rare follow-up interview that CEO Larry Page offered him the job after learning of his intention to start a company to build his long-held dream of an artificially intelligent computer. “Why don’t you do that here?” Page asked him. “Google is quite unique,” explains Kurzweil, on his decision to head to the search giant, rather than venture out on his own. “It fundamentally deals with language.”
Language, Kurzweil argues, is the window to creating a genuine artificial brain, that can understand the meaning of ideas and concepts. “If you write a blog post, you’re not just creating a bag of words, you’re creating some meaningful sentences.” For now, search engines have brute-force algorithms that pick out key words in popular pages and hope that the results, on average, will yield the best information.
So-called “semantic” search parses the meaning and intentions behind words. Semantic search aims to solve the ‘hotdog’ problem, as explained by Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt,