Google: Bert Search Is Here. Where Is Ernie Advertising?

November 10, 2019

Google wants to stay at the top of search, so they are constantly developing new technology to keep their search algorithms ahead the competition. Fast Company shares the latest on Google’s search technology in the article, “Google Just Got Better At Understanding Your Trickiest Searches.” Search queries power all of Google searches and the problem for search algorithms is understanding which words in the query are the most important. Another issue is that the algorithms need to understand how the words relate to one another. The relationship between keywords and their intent is subtle, particularly with all the subtle meanings in the English language.

Google’s newest search algorithm endeavor is dubbed BERT, short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. What does that mean?

“We non-AI scientists don’t have to worry about what encoders, representations, and transformers are. But the gist of the idea is that BERT trains machine language algorithms by feeding them chunks of text that have some of the words removed. The algorithm’s challenge is to guess the missing words—which turns out to be a game that computers are good at playing, and an effective way to efficiently train an algorithm to understand text. From a comprehension standpoint, it helps “turn keyword-ese into language,” said Google search chief Ben Gomes.”

Apparently the more text fed into a search, the better BERT can interpret its meaning. Google search scientists tested BERT by feeding the algorithm an endless stream of text from the search engine results. The “bidirectional” in BERT’s name comes from how the algorithm interprets data. Traditional search algorithms read English search queries from left to right, while BERT’s bidirectional reads the queries from unconventional ways.

The average user will not recognize that BERT has altered their search results, but it will be beneficial to them. BERT will not have the same reaching impact as universal search and knowledge graph, but it does give Google a competitive advantage.

The Wall Street Journal did some Google related sleuthing. The focus is advertising. You can read the story and look at the very millennial diagram in “How Google Edged Out Rivals and Built the World’s Dominant Ad Machine: A Visual Guide.” You will have to pay to learn what the diagram shown below means. You will also have to do some homework to figure out how advertising and search / retrieval are connected. That’s important to some. But that diagram is remarkable. It uses Google colors too.

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Whitney Grace, November 10, 2019

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