Microsoft researchers are working on "machine reading" technology that would advance the way search engines work. In theory, instead of typing in a query and getting a list of links, an advanced machine reading system would respond in the same way that a knowledgeable person would when asked a question.
The technology ultimately will have the ability to read passages of text and answer questions about the context of the written or verbal statement or comment.
"That’s something that most search engines can only do for very basic queries right now, and it’s not something any human could ever be expected to replicate for all the world’s information," Allison Linn, editor and multimedia storyteller at Microsoft, wrote in a post.
Perhaps one day the person conducting the voice search or the text search would ask why, and the machine would provide an answer. In Monday's SearchBlogpost, I wrote about how artificial intelligence should provide answers to questions. This would become an extension of that concept.
If successful, the technology would also help people who need to search through a very large amount of information find that one specific piece of data they need. For instance, it could help people more quickly find information hidden in car manuals or tax regulations.
The technology comes from Quebec-based deep learning startup Maluuba, which Microsoft acquired earlier this year.
Maluuba founder Kaheer Suleman calls it a literate machine -- a machine that can read and understand text and then learn how to communicate, whether through written or verbal means.
It's about getting machines to reason, make decisions and communicate with humans.
How would that influence the way Bing serves advertisements to those searching on engines? It would increasingly become a one-to-one conversation between the person searching and the engine or the brand serving up the information. Think of it as a more advanced chat bot.
Chat bots as we know them today are advanced AOL message apps, the type we used in the early days of dial-up Internet access. The next version of the chat bot will seamlessly integrate with the search engine, in my opinion.