[Ads-l] (Off Topic) Machine learning and the ordering of Google search results

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 28 01:09:59 UTC 2016

The Google search engine is the most important nexus of societal
self-reflection in the digital age. Interestingly, Google is now using
artificial intelligence techniques to help determine the ordering of
search results.

The influential technology journalist Steven Levy published an article
at the website Backchannel about the importance of machine learning at
Google. Levy is the Editor in Chief at Backchannel.


Websites/companies live or die based on their ranking in Google search
results. Levy discussed the use of a machine-learning system called
RankBrain in this domain:

[Begin excerpt]
The experiment his team had in mind turned out to be central to
search: how well a document in the ranking matches a query (as
measured by whether the user clicks on it). “We sort of just said,
let’s try to compute this extra score from the neural net and see if
that’s a useful score.”

It turned out the answer was yes, and the system is now part of
search, known as RankBrain. It went online in April 2015. Google is
characteristically fuzzy on exactly how it improves search (something
to do with the long tail? Better interpretation of ambiguous
requests?) but Dean says that RankBrain is “involved in every query,”
and affects the actual rankings “probably not in every query but in a
lot of queries.” What’s more, it’s hugely effective. Of the hundreds
of “signals” Google search uses when it calculates its rankings (a
signal might be the user’s geographical location, or whether the
headline on a page matches the text in the query), RankBrain is now
rated as the third most useful.
[End excerpt]

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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