Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo
Google search is without a doubt the easiest way to find answers quickly, but it can also spur new questions. Sometimes those questions are sparked by a random autocomplete suggestion, but the company just announced changes to its search engine that will help you find answers to questions you didn’t ask.
At the company’s Search On event Wednesday, Google announced several interesting new features that will turn its search engine into something of a mind reader, including a Google Lens tool that lets you search with both words and photos and a new “Things to know” box that serves up answers to questions commonly related to your search.
The new features are powered by a machine learning model called MUM, or Multitask Unified Model, which can pick up information from formats beyond text, including pictures, audio, and video. MUM can also transfer that knowledge across the 75 languages and counting that it’s trained on.
Using machine learning, Google can now include context outside of standard text-based search terms, which can be helpful if you’re feeling stuck on what to search for and which words or phrases to use. In the coming months, Google search results will start surfacing links related to what you were looking for but that you might not have considered.
One example the company offered was a search for acrylic paint: You’d type the term into the search bar and then scroll down to a section called Things to know. Google will…