Although Google has expanded to so many areas over the years that a larger, parent company Alphabet had to be created to handle things, at its core Google is still a search company. As important as search is to the company, Google is turning to artificial intelligence solutions to help in maintain a competitive edge. The use of AI inspired machine learning is not new to Google which is actually one of the largest investors in AI research, using it in products from videos to speech to translation. Now a new system called RankBrain is being tested with search functions.
Google has been testing RankBrain for several months now by letting it try to interpret a “very large fraction” of the millions of queries the search giant processes. One of the primary types of search that RankBrain is used for are the 15 percent of queries that Google’s systems have never encountered before. These are ambiguous for existing algorithms and may include unique words or phrases that require some interpretation. RankBrain is able to process this input and make a guess at meanings.
Even though RankBrain is new to the search scene for Google, it has already risen to become the third highest contributing tool in determining the results displayed on a Google search page. The faster than expected effectiveness of RankBrain was described as “having gone better than we would have expected” according to Google senior research scientist Greg Corrado.
A sign of how important AI is to Google’s future efforts can be detected by looking back at Sundar Pichai’s comments during the company’s recent earnings call. Pichai noted that “machine learning is a core transformative way by which we are rethinking everything we are doing.” Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt wrote a piece last month extolling artificial intelligence solutions and how they will make the world better.
Even as Google brings the power of AI to bear on their core search business, other companies are expanding their use of machine learning as well. Both Microsoft and Facebook are actively working on deploying these systems to help power their businesses.