As I argued in my semi-recent Google’s A.I. quest to become God-On-Earth piece, the more everyone uses Google the ‘smarter’ it becomes. I even mentioned the GOOG411 service in this regard:
“An intelligent thinking machine would also needs ears, and ears they are giving it. Make a call to 1-800-GOOG411 and experience their speech recognition algorithms for yourself. No surprise that the service is free, because the more people use it the more you help them reach their goal of omniscience.”
Google announced that it had added voice search to its iPhone mobile application, allowing people to speak search terms into their phones and view the results on the screen.
In designing the system, Google took on an enormous challenge. Where an automated airline reservation system, say, has to handle a relatively limited number of terms, a Web search engine must contend with any topic that anyone might ever want to research–literally.
Fortunately, Google also has a huge amount of data on how people use search, and it was able to use that to train its algorithms. If the system has trouble interpreting one word in a query, for instance, it can fall back on data about which terms are frequently grouped together.
Google also had a useful set of data correlating speech samples with written words, culled from its free directory service, Goog411. People call the service and say the name of a city and state, and then say the name of a business or category. According to Mike Cohen, a Google research scientist, voice samples from this service were the main source of acoustic data for training the system.
But the data that Google used to build the system pales in comparison to the data that it now has the chance to collect. “The nice thing about this application is that Google will collect all this speech data,” says Jim Glass, a principal research scientist at MIT. “And by getting all this data, they will improve their recognizer even more.”
I hate it when I’m right. Once the Google Machine understands what words and sentences mean, they’ll be closer to having Strong AI that “will understand everything in the world”.
Law of Accelerating Returns