Google's new tool that answers your questions by reading thousands of books


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Google’s astounding new search tool will answer any question by reading thousands of books

"Imagine if you could gather thousands of writers in a circle to discuss one question. What would optimist Thomas L. Friedman say about intervening in Syria, for example? Would chaos theorist Santo Banerjee concur?

Google now has a way to convene that kind of forum—in half a second. Speaking to TED curator Chris Anderson yesterday (April 13), legendary futurist Ray Kurzweil introduced “Talk to Books” a new way to find answers on the internet that should bring pleasure to researchers, bookworms and anyone seeking to expand their thinking on a range of topics.

Type a question into “Talk to Books,” and AI-powered tool will scan every sentence in 100,000 volumes in Google Books and generate a list of likely responses with the pertinent passage bolded.

You can test it online here: Talk to Books

I tried some questions like "When did agriculture first reach Britain?" or "Who was the longest lived Roman emperor?". The results quote passages from books (including some that I have read), but the right answer is rarely the first one, and sometimes doesn't appear at all. The answers seem to be loosely based on the keywords, rather than the question's actual meaning as it should. In fact the problem is that the AI does not "think" and provide an answer of its own, bu just quotes passages, which are rarely the answer to the specific question asked. Another limitation is that the answers seem to come exclusively from books, and exclude other valuable sources like the Web (and notably Wikipedia).

To give you an example, I asked 'What is the happiest state in the USA?' and one of the highlighted quotes was 'Nirvana is the happiest state'. :useless:

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