As most of you could observe, there is a new stream in which the internet is going lately. The so-called “intelligent web” or “decision helping” web. Does it appear to you as an attempt to make the internet users thoughtless and opinionless or is this a trend that, in the long run, will make our time spending more efficient?
The idea has been with us for quite a while, as the whole concept of Decision Theory started in the XVIIth century and was intensively developed during the II World War. Now let’s take a quick jump to late 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s when the Decision Support System idea was born. So as you can see the idea is not as fresh as it may seem to be. But now is the best time for science to meet a wide audience thanks to the internet. The new fancy-called Decision Engines are more or less descendants of the Decision Support Systems.
First of all the widely mentioned Microsoft’s Bing, which I covered partly in my last post. It is responsible for the results is the Powerset engine which doesn’t give you just results but also latest blog posts, news, menu of related searches and so on. So you can see how this could easily speed up your work.
Though Google results seem to be a little more accurate Bing gives you some extra functionalities like seeing the user’s reviews and opinions so it helps you make up your mind about e.g. which hotel to choose. There are some downsides as well. Inteligent as it may seem, it was reported that Bing often promotes pages with advertisement and manipulates with the results, study the example below.
Seems a little bit unfair to the users intelligence doesn’t it ?
For many people the concept may be a new thing, but now is the time for Bing to shine and as a matter of fact it lately recorded a very high increase in the amount of users.
Hunch was founded by Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake with an 11-person team of MIT graduates. Unlike Bing, Hunch results are not based on the keywords you typed. It introduces itself to you at the beginning and gets to know you a little bit. By answering a few quick questions it is able to creat a sort of personal profiel of a person and suggests which movie you should see in the cinema this week (manipulative, right ?). The whole concept is very easy and looks like a speed-dating algorithm. The system decides which representative group you should be assigned to and gives you some ideas in turn. Looks fairly simple, doesn’t it ?
The main idea of Hunch is that the contemporary world is full of decisions so why waste time making them? Insted you can try searchich hundreds of topics and after a few questions you’ll have your answer. But will it be 100% yours ? Feel free to take it for a spin.
Another project that makes the web a bit closer to being intelligent is Wolfram Alpha. It was first introduced as the avenger of Google. Wolfram is a powerful tool with highly developed AI which brings all the data you could imagine for a request query. If you’re interested in some statistics, charts, diagrams and numeric data than Wolfram has got a real treat for you.
This project has an enormous calculating power e.g. the company boasts about the 10 000 processor cores and hundreds of Terabytes of data. All this to make it flexible, efficient and manage through all the high-peek traffic during the day.
Typing “Microsoft Apple” in Google brings up just a bunch of loose links related to the companies. Typing the same query to Wolfram gives you comparison charts, diagram of expect yearly returns, price history and much much more.
Wolfram Alpha comes from the founders of the Mathematica project. So it has support for all the scientific equations, laws, calculations, you name it. Typing a complex derivative into Wolfram will give you not only the result but also the diagram in no-time.
Seems like the internet is rapidly following the ideas behind Decision Support Systems. Will this make us waste our time less or use our own intelligence less. Decide … by yourself.