Predictive Search: Are You Ready?
September 28, 2012
We read “A New Google App gives You Local Information—Before You Ask for It.” The idea is that smart software knows where you are and what you probably will want to know. Years ago I heard Scott McNealy, the former Sun Microsystems CEO, describe a system in an automobile which would display the location of filling stations and highlight the gas pump with the best price. The Google app seems to be a step in this direction. According to the write up:
Google, along with other companies and researchers, dreams of so-called ubiquitous computing or ambient intelligence — computers woven into the texture of life as opposed to being separate machines. Eventually, the theory goes, computers will be part of the environment, know where people are and anticipate what they want to know. The Field Trip app is a small step in that direction, and an example of what Google is capable of doing.
The good news is that Google is making the predictive system available as an app, not a default setting in a mobile device’s browser. That step would not be one I would welcome. For those who are keen to have smart software think for them, the Field Trip app will be extended to meet market demand.
My personal view is that “smart” software is, like semantic technology, most helpful if it is kept behind the scenes. We are moving to an information access model in which run-and-gun decision making is the norm. The time and effort required to formulate a query, analyze the results, and then check the provenance of the information is becoming irrelevant for some people.
Progress in search marches on. I just worry that those who define progress are the handful of math wizards who decide which algorithms to use and what threshold settings to implement. Smart software in my experience can make some pretty dumb decisions.
Stephen E Arnold, September 28, 2012
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