Now I don not consider Google Evil (well, not too evil yet), but if you have read David Kupelian's Book "How Evil Works" you can see how what I discuss below has major impacts for all of us in the Internet Marketing world, and in the world at large.
For those of you with a programming or linguistic bent, this should set off a few bells as you should be able to see some of the implications here. Basically Google is pursuing (and has been pursuing for some time) something called "Natural Language Processing" or "NLP". For a comprehensive list of free and payfor libraries and programs on NLP go here: (LingPipe). This latest patent gives Google the ability to correctly understand the context of your search in a similar manner to the way you or I understand conversation. We glean the users meaning of a word by the context provided by the other words used. For example when we say "hot dog" we know the speaker is not talking about boiling a puppy...unless the words were used in the context of a joke. Google is beginning to understand these subtle differences.
But what is a bit disturbing is this quote directly from the patent itself:
|A method is applied to search terms for determining synonyms or other replacement terms used in an information retrieval system. User queries are first sorted by user identity and session. For each user query, a plurality of pseudo-queries is determined, each pseudo-query derived from a user query by replacing a phrase of the user query with a token. For each phrase, at least one candidate synonym is determined. The candidate synonym is a term that was used within a user query in place of the phrase, and in the context of a pseudo-query. The strength or quality of candidate synonyms is evaluated. Validated synonyms may be either suggested to the user or automatically added to user search strings.|
The problem with this sort of thing is that it will eventually allow google to guess accurately about a users intention. Now imagine google working with police or security agencies - pre-crime anyone?
A more immediate concern of this new form of searching, is of course with regard to our marketing and SEO efforts. Context, semantics, meanings, and intentions can now be gleaned by what your write - but biases for or against your intentions can be added by the search company as well. This could lead to a more subtle form of "censorship" - the company builds in a bias to their semantic contextual search, and your ranking goes down because they don't like you, not because your content is no good.
Something to start thinking about...