Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Drop of Intelligence

Google has became the most used search engine on the web and has made its owners proud and filthy rich and all this with good reasons. Lately I have been checking out a new feature of Google: if you have an account with them, you can sign in and then do your searches and the search history is kept. Now I haven't got that far using it and I don't know the exact reasons for which they implemented it but it reminded me about my earlier studies of search engines, web crawlers and agents where I found an interesting concept: doing customized searches. Now just imagine that you are a botanist, you log on to Google, do a search query for, let's say "cell", and the results you receive are just what you expected, no more useless links to irrelevant information like prison cells or sheet cells or even human or animal cells...just info about good ol' vegetable cells. That would be nice, wouldn't it? I think it would be great to be able to do that and I also believe it is doable. Just by asking for more details about the user doing the search, his/her background, profession, interests, hobbies and other personal info and then ranking the results against this information, more relevant results can be produced.
This is just a simple example using simple facts and reasoning, the applications you write don't even have to be that smart, you just need to classify information thoroughly. Also with the developments for the new semantic web that are currently happening at W3C, we will begin to see a web that will be more and more close to our human reasoning than the experiences we have today. I just hope that the semantic web will catch on, if not I am sure there will be plenty of ideas and developments to make our computer experiences more "humane".
What I have told you until now is practically just scratching the surface. Just imagine the plethora of intelligent applications and agents that could at least take care of menial tasks like paying the bills for you on time so you never will be late on payments again, investing in the stock market for you, betting sports for you or participating in the lottery for you every week. We should be able to use technology to make our life easier, take care of our menial tasks so we have more free time to enjoy ourselves and I believe that the near future will make this a reality.

6 comments:

Cristina said...

I don't know, maybe I'm a maniac regarding these matters. First thing in my mind when reading about the idea of personalized crawling was: huh, lots of information about me will be spied then by underground possibly malicious identities. But this is happening all the time when a new helping idea is raised, isn't it? we have to live with it.
So, what we should choose. For sure we will look further for benefits, and in the mean time for solutions to minimize the bad aspects. As usual.
We will shortly get used (lots of us already are) with the idea of having the internet as one of our apendices.

Mihai Campean said...

Well, honestly I didn't think about that part so much, although I usually am pretty careful of what sensitive personal information I leave laying around. I do believe, however that his kind of profiling can be created with the minimum use of sensitive information like phones, addresses, social security numbers, bank accounts and so on...Even so security is an issue, but I believe it can be handled properly.

Anonymous said...

Maybe is has not come to your ears :) but in this days all the things that you enumerated are facts: bills can be payed automatically from your bank account on a scheduled date (surely, not all banks offer this feature, but it is not a big fuss, and online banking is more and more common, even in our fucked up country :)); auto trading also is fact, but of course not to humble users like us(at least i havent heard), but to big brokerage firms that have special alghoritms implemented that act on market changes (and there is no AI involved).

Mihai Campean said...

Sorry man, but I think you missed my point. Sure all these things you say are happening as we speak, but they still have a long way to improve themselves and better adapt to their user's needs. Who's to say that these services cannot be used by a smart agent on your behalf to manage your accounts or to invest in the stock market for you, or to play the lotto for you and just send you an email if you win something. Of course all these things need to be carefully done because a program cannot make the same judgments as a stock market broker, but in time AI techniques will be used more and more in mainstream applications to add capabilities of reasoning and learning and to be able to adapt to their user's demands.

Anonymous said...

generaly speaking, everything can be improved, so maybe you should be more explicit...

Mihai Campean said...

I think the search example in the initial post should be explicit enough, but for the sake of clarity, let me give you another example: What would you say if you had a nice agent program that would watch auction sites for you (like eBay, but not limited to) and would try to buy the things you specify, making the best possible deal. I think that could save you some time doing searches and watching e-Commerce sites and you could just enjoy the end result. Besides, you could use the gained time for doing something else - I am sure everybody would find better ways to spend their time instead of taking care of menial tasks like this one.

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