Friday, 8 June 2012

Knowledge Engines or Smart Information?

Back in 2009, KIN took a look at the new kid on the search block, Wolfram Alpha. Back then, my conclusion was that this super-smart 'answer engine' held fantastic promise, but 'wasn't quite ready yet'. It has now been revealed that Wolfram Alpha is actually the engine behind Apple's smartphone assistant SIRI. Wolfram Alpha has come of age.

Stand by for a new clutch of Google and Bing search products that they claim will go way beyond providing links to web pages. Google's 'Knowledge Graph' already provides facts and services that anticipate what the user is trying to find out by interpreting the everyday language used. Google's Shashidhar Thakur says they can 'go beyond returning pages and return knowledge'. Clearly Google and Microsoft are making use of Open Linked Data behind the scenes to help make the semantic connections.

We can waste many unproductive hours debating the difference between information and knowledge. However when Google can provide know-how, answers based on expertise and nuanced insight, will be when it can truly claim to be providing knowledge, rather than what I think is 'information in context'. Providing knowledge will undoubtedly come, but Google's knowledge graph 'isn't quite ready yet'.

In the meantime, Quora seems to be bridging the answer engine gap by connecting people with questions with people with answers.

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