‘RankBrain’ Artificial Intelligence Being Used for Google’s Search Engine

AP Photo
The Associated Press

Last week Google parent company Alphabet Inc. hit record share prices, beat its quarterly projections, and authorized over 5 billion dollars in share buybacks.

You could be forgiven for thinking that company executives would be caught up in those victories, but you’d still be wrong. Instead, Alphabet’s top brass was caught up in the excitement for their next step; an evolution not just of their business, but the heart of tomorrow’s tech revolutions.

They’re going to do that by learning, but not firsthand. Instead, Alphabet is doubling down on investments by its subsidiary into artificial intelligence and leveraging a digitized cortex to manage its flagship service. Google has already made efforts in the AI arena, first for video and translation use, and now it will use that experience to revolutionize its iconic search engine.

In fact, the process has already begun. Every second, untold millions of queries hit Google.com. For several months now, a significant amount of those queries have been handled by an artificial intelligence known as ‘RankBrain’.

RankBrain turns language into mathematical ‘vectors’ more easily understood by the computer. These vectors can be associated with other of similar definition, allowing the AI to learn and translate future queries into more relevant results.

If that sounds like so much jargon, the result is far more easily distilled: Out of the hundreds of pieces of the massive Google search algorithm, RankBrain has already risen to become the third most important contributor. In fact, it’s already outclassed Google’s own human search engineers.

Five of those search engineers are the creators of RankBrain itself. A team featuring search specialist Yonghui Wu and deep-learning expert Thomas Strohmann was expanded to include dozens of others after being green-lit by Senior Vice President of Search Amit Singhal.

Microsoft’s Bing is getting in on the action, using its own artificial intelligence to enhance its own capabilities, and Facebook is already making use of similar techniques on the home pages of their gargantuan social network.

Follow Nate Church on Twitter @Get2Church.

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