Welcome to the 'more human' Google

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:23pm


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Hongkongers using the Google search engine will find the website 'more human', the company said yesterday, as it rolled out a new function intended to offer instant answers to search questions.

The Knowledge Graph is a 'baby step' towards a search engine that understands exactly what users mean and gives them what they want, according to Amit Singhal, senior vice-president of the technology giant's search department.

The services became available for searches in English worldwide yesterday, having been available in the United States since May. It will be rolled out in other languages, including Chinese, in future, Singhal says.

It follows similar efforts by rival Bing to provide search content beyond the typical keyword-matching and work towards understanding the context of searches.

The graph is made up of a database of more than 500 million real-world people, places and things and aims to understand people's search queries and provide additional information in a box on the right hand side of the search results page.

For example, a search for 'Hong Kong' yesterday brought up a brief description of the city from Wikipedia as well as statistics, a map, photographs and links to related searches, for subjects such as Hong Kong Disneyland, Kowloon Walled City and Lantau Island.

A search for kiwi gives users the choice of looking for results for the flightless bird and the fruit.

'It's very much like the computer I dreamt about as a child growing up in India, glued to our black-and-white TV for every episode of Star Trek,' Singhal wrote on the Google blog yesterday. 'I imagined a future where a starship computer would be able to answer any question I might ask, instantly. Today, we're closer to that dream than I ever thought possible during my working life.'