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Google “Knowledge Vault” To Power Future Of Search
Database could be the foundation for array of next-gen applications.
Google’s Knowledge Graph is being used to supply increasing amounts of structured content in PC and mobile search results. It’s part of an evolution that began with “universal search” and accelerated with the requirement for “answers not links” in mobile.
Now Google is developing a successor knowledge base of content that will eventually supersede Knowledge Graph and be far more extensive (see postscript below). According to New Scientist that system and corpus are called “Knowledge Vault.” The implications for third-party publishers are potentially significant over time — as Google relies less and less on them. Tempering that, however, is Google’s business model to some degree.
Sensationally characterized as “the largest store of knowledge in human history,” Knowledge Vault is being assembled from content across the internet without human editorial involvement. “Knowledge Vault autonomously gathers and merges information from across the web into a single base of facts about the world, and the people and objects in it,” says New Scientist.
Google has reportedly assembled 1.6 billion “facts” and scored them according to confidence in their accuracy. Roughly 16 percent of the information in the database qualifies as “confident facts.”
As Knowledge Vault grows, as well as Google’s “confidence” in it, presumably it will be used in various contexts, especially in mobile (including Google Now). This is building toward Google’s ultimate vision of itself as an “ask me anything” Star-Trek computer. The body of knowledge required to pull this off would be massive, but if assembled would enable all sorts of new applications and computing scenarios.
Indeed, the article speaks of Knowledge Vault as the basis for future artificial intelligence applications, machine-to-machine communication, augmented reality, predictive models and virtual assistant use cases. Here’s one example of a potential application of the technology cited in the New Scientist piece:
Other agents will carry out the same process to watch over and guide our health, sorting through a knowledge base of medical symptoms to find correlations with data in each person’s health records. IBM’s Watson is already doing this for cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York.
Depending on how paranoid you are, Knowledge Vault is either an exciting development with enormous promise for the future of computing or a potentially scary thing with shades of the U.S. government’s “total information awareness” program.
The contention in the New Scientist article is that all the major internet companies are building similar information and data “vaults.”
Postscript: Google yesterday indicated that the “Knowledge Vault” was misrepresented or misinterpreted in the New Scientist article above. Apparently this was a research paper (May 2014) and is not an active Google product in development. Google also indicated that there are numerous models at the company and elsewhere about building a knowledge base with machines or extracting meaning from text.