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Google machines vs. humans

As Google's algorithms do what humans can't -- scale -- community-based searches seemed like something Google would not be interested in.

After all, communities are made of people who tend to be fickle, slow and inherently lazy. They can't handle or process what Google's machines can do. Yet, Google is harnessing communities with Google Co-op, a concept that lets users contribute their knowledge and expertise to improve search results for everyone. Google also announced, on Wednesday, Google Desktop 4 and Google Notebook, which allows people to share their notes about their searches.
When I asked Google CEO Eric Schmidt what was the most exciting product launch in the last year, he said "Google Co-op." In his words: "It's a powerful idea" because it gets people to help Google structure the data. Through a co-op, "user-generated data becomes part of the answer," Schmidt said. think this is a brilliant idea for Google to tap into the more arcane searches. Among the digerati, these searches are called the "long tail." Getting to the long tail of searches, the results of the most convoluted or obscure search queries, is something that humans can help with.

"Machine algorithms aren't good at it," Alan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering at Google, said to me. Great," I said. "Humans 1, machines 0."

Eustace gave me a little smile, with a look that said, but it won't be for long.

"For the time being, the human judgment is still much better," he said.
Google machines vs. humans - Friday, May 12, 2006 -

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