Google’s search service has always been one the tech giant’s most well-known businesses. In the face of competition from rival services like Microsoft’s Bing, Google is continuously working to improve its search capabilities. In an effort to bring users the most advanced and relevant search results, Google is investing in artificial intelligence and is now reaping the benefits of teaching a computer to understand humans.
Most of Google’s search engine works by referencing hundreds of signals developed by the company’s search engineers. These employees strive to find and rank appropriate results for a given search term so that the user finds exactly what they were looking for at the top of the page. Although the algorithms produced by engineers can be effective, they are static and don’t change over time to better suit the user.
Google’s solution involves artificial intelligence and machine learning. The company has developed a system named RankBrain, and its ability to understand human language and continuously learn makes it a valuable addition to traditional search algorithms. RankBrain is using written language to interpret what information Google search users are looking for. Sometimes, a search will be vague or use terms and sayings that algorithms cannot understand. These types of queries are where RankBrain shines due to its unique machine learning programming. Despite not having heard or interacted with a particular search before, RankBrain can make an educated guess based on previous information fed to it by Google. The system will only get better at informing humans in the future.
In the present, however, RankBrain is still showing positive results. After a year of development with a team of Google engineers, RankBrain was added to search in early 2015. By now, it ranks as the third most used signal in Google searches. In reference to the company’s new endeavours in RankBrain and other similar projects, Google’s Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said, “Machine learning is a core transformative way by which we are rethinking everything we are doing.”
Google is determined to hold on to the sizable lead they have in search. A part of that goal is to keep their results relevant and useful to the average Internet user, and updating RankBrain is vital to meet that criteria. The system is periodically given new information from Google so that its chosen results are increasingly well informed. Microsoft has developed artificial intelligence of its own for its Bing search engine, meaning both companies realize the importance of this new frontier in search. For users, this amounts to better search results and the promise of having the information you need closer to your fingertips than ever before.