February 10, 2005

"God" is in Google

We all have become accustomed to the instant search results of Google, forgetting the small wonder behind its works, the fact that the search engine surveys billions of web pages in split seconds with satisfactory results. Its Page Rank algorithm which is responsible for predictably successful hits also serves as a model example for a functioning democracy...The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine a paper written by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, the founders of Google, states:
    PageRank capitalizes on the uniquely democratic characteristic of the web by using its vast link structure as an organizational tool. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. Google assesses a page's importance by the votes it receives. But Google looks at more than sheer volume of votes, or links; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."(exerpt from Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki)
Most recently it has been discovered that Googles pages can serve as an immense database from which a software could potentially derive semantics. Up until recently any attempts to deduce meaning were hindered by the necessary overhead of creating vast textual libraries from which word associations could be deduced. Paul Vitanyi and Rudi Cilibrasi of the National Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, realised that a Google search can be used to measure how closely two words relate to each other.
    For instance, imagine a computer needs to understand what a hat is.To do this, it needs to build a word tree - a database of how words relate to each other. It might start with any two words to see how they relate to each other. For example, if it googles "hat" and "head" together it gets nearly 9 million hits, compared to, say, fewer than half a million hits for "hat" and "banana".
Automatic meaning Extraction, is an elaborate system of word comparisons which establishes the Normalized Google distance which has been proven to "distinguish between colours, numbers, different religions and Dutch painters based on the number of hits they return". Could it be that the indexed pages of Google contain all the primordial elements necessary for the inevitable emergence of Artificial Intelligence?

(Thanks Art, for the tip.)

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen this idea in a couple places, though phrased with more paranoia/humor. Search for "Google Skynet" (on Google of course) and you will come up with some interesting comments, much along these same lines. (Remember Skynet from T2?)

Another good article about Google is here:

http://blog.topix.net/archives/000016.html

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Rudi Cilibrasi said...

I think this is probably one of the most important applications of the technology. To reconnect us with our power. To govern ourselves and organize. I don't think this NGD thing really solves this yet, but I think we need to explore NGD enhanced tagging systems and NGD enhanced factual news media. Because if we make it five times easier to learn about issue X, people will learn about 5 times as many things. Thanks for your interest in our work!

Rudi Cilibrasi
cilibrar@gmail.com

1:09 AM  

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