AC – Web search as a force for good

Peter Norvig, Director of search quality, Google. Quality is a good thing ;-). Shares an office with three other people. Don’t see that often with Director types.

Shows web queries as a function of time visually. Most searches are coming from the us, western Europe and the East. Very cool visual he presented. What have we accomplished so far? Ability to search for 4B web pages.

Makes a difference in people’s life.

  • Told a story where a journalist got kidnapped in Iraq and told his captures he was a journalist. His captures search for his name in Google to verify and then let him go.
  • Sites can make $$ using AdSense–enables people to change their life
  • The other search inside the book 😉 another good
  • Got involved in Blogging (buying Blogger) and providing blog content easier via web search.
  • You can search locally and mobile.
  • Gave a demo of their new acquisition (big round of appluase). Here’s a cool sample (wmv file) from CNN.

What’s going to happen in the future?

  • Showed an image from Blade Runner where the world turns into a bunch of ads. Said it was out of date because it wasn’t assuming targeted ads. Minority Report might be more accurate.
  • HAL 9000. “In the future, search engines should be as useful as HALs, but hopefully they won’t kill people.” Sergey Brin
  • How to learn from data? Examples: their spelling corrector, personalization (nothing new said), semantic understanding (understanding what words are saying on a web page–uses clustering to pull out labels and members of categories), machine language translation

Didn’t hear much new (surprisingly) in this talk. Ironic that the coolest thing in this talk was KeyHole (which they didn’t build).