Could Artificial Intelligence Spell the Search for Death?


Just think about how much you’re searching online for a moment. Need to find a restaurant nearby? Just type your query into the search engine and presto: you will receive the results page by page listing Pad Thai eateries in your area. Need to know Austin’s forecast? Again, punch in your query and you will receive no shortage of 3-day forecasts, 5-day forecasts, even year – round averages.

This is the world we’re living in now. Even people who grew up before the internet accepted what cultural historian and media scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan called “All Googlization” — the idea that if we type in our query and wade through page after page of results, anything we need to know can be accessible.

But here’s a question you might not have been asked: why do you have to search at all? Consultation is, after all, a recent phenomenon, and as you know, We are living through a historically unprecedented period in which technology is evolving so rapidly that once cutting – edge innovations were introduced just a few years ago, they now seem laughably quaint. Digital Personal Assistants, anybody?

Surprisingly, the one area of technology that is central to our lives — search — has not somehow evolved to keep up with the times. So far.

“This is the first time since the search paradigm changed in 1994,” says David Seuss, CEO of Northern Light, a Boston – based strategic research portal provider that I consult with provides global companies with a cloud – based SaaS. “You went to a search box in 1994, filled out a query, hit the search button, and got a list of documents. You reviewed these manually, selecting the most relevant item to download. Fast forward to 2019, and the same thing remains. Find me another part of the tech landscape that hasn’t changed since the 1990s, whether it’s broadband, wireless, mobile cloud computing, artificial intelligence. All but the search.

Seuss attributes the lack of innovation to a lack of imagination despite the fact that research has shown users feel frustrated with the model of status quo search. Surpassed by the sheer number of entries per query, “The average user on the Search Engine Results page (SERP) will not go past the first five listings,” writes Madeline Jacobson for Leverage Marketing. What’s the reason? There is too much inadequately organized content available, leading users to frequently accept initial results, even if they are not ideal. “Most people are going to click on one of the first few results because they found what they’re looking for, don’t want to scroll further, they’re short on time, or some combination of the three,” Jacobson writes.

Neil Patel, named one of Forbes ‘ top 10 marketers, brings home with a joke the current reality: “Where should you bury something you don’t want to find people? Answer: Google’s second page.” While Patel cites the fact that 75 percent of users never scroll past the first page of results, this is not a laughing issue. Even though it has been expected to rely on the first two pages of results, especially when pages number in hundreds, this modus operandi is detrimental to the field of information. Too much important research gets shelved into darkness just because the search field hasn’t kept up with the times. If anything, getting the information we need has become more difficult because results tend to skew towards paid advertisers and companies that search through SEO maneuvers.

It is understandable, based on these types of frustrations, that millennials, now comprising more than 35% of the workforce, have begun to push back on the way we are searching. Instead of relying on the manual querying model with all its time – sucking and less – than – effective research implications, the new generation is paving the way for what is referred to as a “browse to content” model highlighting the gathering of information and gaining insights from numerous trusted, curated sources.

“Millennials are different in how they approach information gathering than Boomers and Gen – Xers,” Seuss says. “The search was the radical change in their professional lives for Boomers and Gen – Xers. They went from having to go to a corporate library and browse magazines on shelves to be able to go online and instantly find information. Boomers and Gen – Xers are therefore personally research – oriented and search – oriented. On the other hand, Millennials grab and move on. Speed is the primary ingredient in providing Millennials with successful information. The truth is that when the tools are right and designed for their cognitive style, they are extremely efficient information gatherers and extremely effective at acquiring relevant insights.

Although millennials may be the most adept at this new browse – to – content model, new search modalities have already begun to be implemented by skilled business leaders. These two apparently disparate groups would make sense to be pioneers of this search tactic; after all, they share key personal characteristics. Both rush around forever, feeling hungry for time. Both also resent yesterday’s antique hunting, pecking, downloading rinse and repeated search model, favoring the effective curated or “storytelling” model that leads to advances in competitive intelligence (CI).

So, what’s this new research model of storytelling? And how can technological breakthroughs finally be achieved in the field of search, a sector that has so long resisted evolution? We need to look for the secret sauce no more than machine learning. With the help of AI, computers can now accomplish tasks that were once relegated to flesh and blood researchers. Based on the pattern – forming and predictive capabilities of the latter, it can observe the actions of users, discerning their interests based on what they download, share, comment or bookmark. Based on this knowledge, an AI Can proactively recommend relevant content to users without manual prompting. Instead of disrupting the traditional search model to its page ranking core, content can search for the user.

But machine learning promises to improve the search even more dramatically. Anyone receiving RSS feeds or email alerts is likely aware of the advantages of collecting desired content in so – called strategic dashboards. After all, publications like The New York Times, by offering daily news briefings, have found tremendous benefit in being top – of – mind with readership. What is unique about what Northern Light offers is an up – to – the – second summary of crucial content through its Artificial Intelligence – based platform. “Instead of a user having to scroll manually through a search result list and individual documents to gather answers to a research question, the search engine reads all the documents and summarizes the search result’s significance,” Seuss explains.

Such distillation of actionable information can be crucial to the ability of a company to stay up – to – date in an increasingly competitive business landscape where knowledge is equal to or at least leverage power. Possessing the latest intelligence can be especially invaluable to IT space organizations where lightning – fast developments and narrowing product life cycles can make the information today useless tomorrow. Likewise, a deluge of information is suffering from too many companies. They know they need to keep up with the latest information, but their efforts are often stymied by the sheer amount of data from so many sources. The smarter play may involve investing in a platform to aggregate and centralize key content, given the reality that research is constantly changing and rapidly becoming obsolete.

The Single Point knowledge portal of Seuss provides its customers with this type of service in various industries, including pharmaceutical, manufacturing, logistics, IT, and hospitality. It harvests business – relevant content from a variety of content partners, such as Forrester, IDC, and Informa, using a customized approach for each client. Offering text analytics with extensive industry and business strategy taxonomies and custom aggregation from syndicated secondary, primary internal, news, government, and web sources, it provides on – demand content for businesses that live and die based on access to the latest competitive intelligence.

In addition to harvesting the necessary information to a central hub, Northern Light seeks to address another major frustration related to traditional searching: timely gleaning of the most relevant, usable information. To find the desired content, most people are familiar with the annoying experience of manually screening through result after result. Northern Light has introduced its Insight Report to combat this universal point of pain. Powered by machine – learning, in its search results, it automatically summarizes the key ideas of a document.

The Artificial Intelligence is important. Does not rewrite Single Point customer articles. Rather, it extracts and presents the important “summary – worthy sentences” defined as those declarative sentences making a statement and expressing a pithy idea using a proprietary algorithm. The “intelligence” in artificial intelligence comes into play once you realize that the computer is almost instantaneously graphing all the sentences on the search results page in all the documents. It does this to determine their relationships to synthesize the most important items that a user needs to know. “The machine orders the sentences of the report as they appear first in the documents and also orders the grouping of the document sentence in the search result order,” Seuss explains.

It is more necessary than ever to use this type of machine learning to reduce the strain on businesses and individuals struggling to keep up with the staggering amount of daily information (2.5 quintillion bytes). It seems incredible to reflect on the fact that our changing times have not kept pace with search, the very act most closely associated with the internet. However, as ongoing developments push technology from the realm of the conceivable into the possible, imagining the death of search, or at least the rise of search 2.0, is not so far away. Instead of relying on so much querying to achieve the knowledge we are seeking, a day may come when we are seeking more and more information, smartly predicting what needs to be known.


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