There’s a new search engine out there, according to the Guardian, and it sort of tries to figure out what you’re looking for. Which is good. Google searches are great so long as they’re simple. But is Powerset up to snuff?
Here are some searches I did (betraying my interests):
Pretty good stuff. And how about me?
Even less obvious matches seem to work:
Also right on the money. Nixon got second place when I asked who was the first u.s. president to resign? which is good enough:
Other searches tho — how many copies of Office 2007 has Microsoft sold? and how far is it from London to Sydney — weren’t any good at all.
Of course, Powerset is so far only parsing Wikipedia articles (only — there are 2.3 million of those in the English language). And ask Google the same questions and you’re also likely to get the answers high up (1st in the case of Nixon, Taser inventer, Suharto resignation, though nowhere on my own alleged career (fittingly). Sydney/London throws up a WikiAnswers page, and I’ve given up hope trying to find out how many copies of Office 2007 have been sold.)
Still, it’s early days for something like this. There’s no question that a better search engine will one day come along, perhaps belonging to Google, perhaps not. Will it need to parse every sentence for meaning? Who knows?