At its Search On event today, Google introduced several new features that, taken together, are its strongest attempts yet to get people to do more than type a few words into a search box. By leveraging its new Multitask Unified Model (MUM) machine learning technology in small ways, the company hopes to kick off a virtuous cycle: it will provide more detail and context-rich answers, and in return it hopes users will ask more detailed and context-rich questions. The end result, the company hopes, will be a richer and deeper search experience.
Google SVP Prabhakar Raghavan oversees search alongside Assistant, ads, and other products. He likes to say — and repeated in an interview this past Sunday — that “search is not a solved problem.” That may be true, but the problems he and his team are trying to solve now have less to do with wrangling the web and more to do with adding context to what they find there.
AI will help Google explore the questions people are asking
For its part, Google is going to begin flexing its ability to recognize constellations of related topics using machine learning and present them to you in an organized way. A coming redesign to Google search will begin showing “Things to know” boxes that send you off to different subtopics. When there’s a section of a video that’s relevant to the general topic — even when the video as a whole is not — it will send you there. Shopping results will begin to show inventory available in nearby…