Documenting the Coming Singularity

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The First Real Natural Language Search Engine?

A company is claiming to be on the verge of launching what I think may be the first real natural language search engine. Powerset Inc. is not talking about just being able to accept searches in the form of questions.

No, they happen to be claiming a bit more, namely that their engine will find "the best answer by considering the meaning and context of the question and related Web pages. 'Powerset extracts deep concepts and relationships from the texts, and the users query and match them efficiently to deliver a better search,' Powerset CEO Barney Pell says."

How have they been able to succeed where others have failed?
Even though attempts have been made at natural-language search for decades, Powerset says that its system is different because it has solved some of the fundamental technological problems that have existed with this kind of search. It has done so by developing a product that is deep, computationally advanced, and still economically viable.

Pell says that it's difficult to pinpoint one particular technological breakthrough, but he believes that Powerset's superiority lies in the three decades of hard work by scientists at PARC. (PARC licensed much of its natural-language search technology to Powerset in February.) There was not one piece of technology that solved the problem, Pell says, but instead, it was the unification of many theories and fragments that pulled the project together.
We shall soon see for ourselves, since they say they plan to release demonstration versions on its web site sometime in September.

Source article

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