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Google is revamping its search engine to work more like "how humans understand the world," as Google executive Amit Singhal put it in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal previewing the change.
In short, Google will look to answer search queries with direct answers as often as possible. As the WSJ explains, a search for "What are the 10 largest lakes in California?" wouldn't just result in links to other sites; it will give answers. A search for "Lake Tahoe," meanwhile, would produce "attributes" Google knows about the lake.
The changes will incorporate "semantic search" technology into the company's existing system for determining a page's importance. For the past two years, the company's been building a database of "entities," (people, places, or things) which "semantic search" will then be able to associate with each other.
An unnamed source told the Journal that the new technology would affect anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of Google searches. The roll out is expected in the next few months, though a full switchover to the new search technology could take years.
The changes will also have implications for Google's advertising sales: the company could use the technology to provide ads even more tailored to individual users, the
Currently, some Google searches produce direct answers. Type in "election results" and Google provides the most recent figures from the Republican presidential primaries. A list of Google "search features" gives some other examples of answers Google can currently provide, including measurement conversions, sunset times, public data and movie showtimes. But the new technology is expected to make those examples an integral part of how Google's searches work.