Entrepreneur Lars Hard feels he has seen the future of search, information gathering and the web in general, and it is artificial intelligence. Computational intelligence, to put it more succinctly: the ability to gather information or find your destination on the web faster and more efficiently with an artificial search partner that can predict what you want. The number of search engines, the myriad pathways from a user’s inquisitive mind to the answer he or she seeks requires that someone, or some thing, must learn the complexities of people’s search patterns in order to better serve the searcher.
“Everything on the internet will have to get more intelligent,” said Hard.
“Siri is a very good example of what we’re going to see more of in the future,” said Hard, who has set up his own company, ExpertMaker, to develop software for artificial intelligence. The company’s platform consists of a server, toolkit and API that provides its clients with technology for upgrading existing, or building new, AI products.
Hard recounts that when Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) was a young company, he and others were using Alta Vista as their search engine. Google’s offering was not hugely better, but the incremental increase in qualitative results was felt by users and they responded by using the now giant search company. AI could be that next step in the evolution of search, Hard said.
Within the next 10 years, Hard predicts, the web will shift from just serving static images and a lot of unstructured text. In search, social and other categories of information, we’re seeing an information overload which will be replaced by a more computational nature and “reasoning” that can help users sift through a massive ocean of information.
For example, inputting data in a search will be remembered, combined with any other basic information a search engine can glean about a user and build a ‘memory’ of statistics and patterns that will allow it to arrive at a likely informational destination faster. In ecommerce, Hard said, no longer will several key phrases lead a user to the same top ten listings on Google or Bing; the user will be brought to those online merchants that have the most specific product being sought. Other applications include medical diagnostics, he added.
Hard’s vision of the future starts to become really complex when you try to fathom the idea of Siri-like AI personal assistants, using a handful of other AI search engine/info-sifters, which in turn are relying another handful of AI agents. As I myself imagine it, I’m reminded of connections and communications between brain synapses and wonder how massive a global info network could get. As fast as technologies – and technologists like Hard – move forward, we’re probably still safe from dealing with actual thinking machines. Or are we?