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Is Siri Smarter Than Google? 366

storagedude writes "Google could go the way of the dodo if ultra intelligent electronic agents (UIEA) make their way into the mainstream, according to technology prognosticator Daniel Burrus. Siri is just the first example of how a UIEA could end search as we know it. By leveraging the cloud and supercomputing capabilities, Siri uses natural language search to circumvent the entire Google process. If Burrus is right, we'll no longer have to wade through '30,000,000 returns in .0013 milliseconds' of irrelevant search results."
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Is Siri Smarter Than Google?

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  • Is she? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomcode ( 261182 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @07:53PM (#39801649)

    Whenever I ask Siri a question, she always refers me to a google search.

  • Voice recognition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GeneralTurgidson ( 2464452 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @07:53PM (#39801651)
    This assumes voice recognition becomes leaps and bounds better than it is right now. I've cursed at Siri more than I've asked it questions. Maybe it's my Midwest accent.
  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @07:54PM (#39801667)
    At least thats been my experience so far.
  • by k6mfw ( 1182893 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:00PM (#39801727)
    I don't follow much of the esoteric details (and don't give a yayhoo about speed) but when I enter a term in a search engine, i.e. "RF video combiners," I'd like some return of technical documents and (what would be really nice) individual techies with their own webpage showing how to implement and what pitfalls to avoid. Instead I get a bunch of sales/marketing aggregates, tech discussions that are really disguised sales/marketing crap, ebay listings, go-get-bids, sorority-sluts, etc.
  • Is it just me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:02PM (#39801743)

    or has Google's search gotten crappier lately?

    I was trying to find a purchase or at least pre-order page for a specific laptop model. Top search result on Google was an Amazon link - an Amazon search page for that exact model, showing 0 results followed by the regular "you may also be interested in" links (most of which weren't even tangentially related to what I was looking for).

    That's not all - get this. Google noted that it was recommending this because I had already visited the page

    Really, Google? Really? You track my every move, scour the entire Internet for information, and then you use it to give me a result that is not only wrong, but that you know I've already found (and found useless)? Really?

    I mean, come on, Google. "Turning to the Dark Side" is supposed to at least make you more effective (bad guys always win for at least the first three acts), not make you worse.

  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:04PM (#39801767)

    I've heard complaints that Suri is getting dumber over time. That for some people it used to return the results that they wanted, but now that it is building up its database of what (I'm guessing) a majority of people mean when they ask a question, that at least a minority of users no longer get the results they used to receive for the same query. If Suri gets overwhelmed by queries that can be considered in pop-culture terms to mean something other than their strict meanings, she could quickly become both useless and frustrating.

  • by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @08:49PM (#39802077) Journal

    Depends on what you ask. But that's a good point.

    Siri "circumvents" Google search for certain things. "Find me a seafood restaurant" will go to Yelp, which has reviews and such. "How many grams in an ounce" will go to Wolfram-Alpha. Otherwise, it sticks it in a query and ships it off to Google.

    Needless to say, Google isn't sitting still. "Find me a seafood restaurant" in Google will also provide me a list of local restaurants with reviews, much like Yelp does. Arguably, Google's ratings may be better because they are collected from a broad spectrum of sources (user reviews from various review sites, individual bloggers, professional reviews) versus whoever Apple decided to sign a deal with. Speaking of which, you have to consider what kind of deals are being done in the background. Woz recently pointed out something [pcmag.com] I found a bit disturbing:

    “I used to ask Siri, ‘What are the five biggest lakes in California?’ and it would come back with the answer. Now it just misses. It gives me real estate listings. I used to ask, ‘What are the prime numbers greater than 87?’ and it would answer. Now instead of getting prime numbers, I get listings for prime rib, or prime real estate.”

    So where Siri used to give answers, Siri now gives advertising.

  • Re:Voice recognition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gutnor ( 872759 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:07PM (#39802193)

    why would people create textual content if all ad revenue is circumvented by Siri.

    Back in 2000, when the default business model was to create content and package it either in a box (like for encyclopedia, ...) or stick it behind a paywall. People would have asked the question: "why would people create content if you can find for free on the internet".

    Today we know, and tomorrow there will be other business models that work with Siri ...

  • Re:Is she? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @09:30PM (#39802323)

    I don't care if Siri is hardcoded to go to Yelp

    So what about when Yelp starts sucking and/or charging? Your Siri isn't going to be much use then.

    BTW, "siri" means ass (literally "buttocks") in Japanese.

  • Re:Voice recognition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aaronb1138 ( 2035478 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:27PM (#39802635)

    Voice recognition is at it limits phonetically, really it has been since the late 90's. The perceived improvements come entirely from context sensitive assumptions. Siri was better than Google Voice and search for the first 90 days or so due to more brute force behind the context engine. They pulled the CPU allocation at Apple and it has been behind Google Voice ever since.

    A Pentium II 450 Mhz running Dragon Naturally Speaking on XP circa 1999 interprets your voice just as well as Google Voice or Siri (given similar microphones / adc's), the difference has entirely been in the guesses the software makes when it doubts recognition of a word within a phrase. A propagation of high quality mics and adc's into phones versus a crap Labtec mics on 90's era PC's constitutes the rest of the difference.

    Context interpretation requires an enormous database of phrase fragment search capabilities. Providing better search results is merely the act of making better command keyword extrapolation. E.g., "I want to go to ," and going straight to a map to the (nearest current GPS), rather than requiring a structured query such as, "Map to near "

    There is no real intelligence or revolution being discussed here, it is rather all the correct application of large amounts of brute force processing power. It all comes down to an extension of the system which made Google #1 over Altavista and Hotbot back in the day, that is processing power driven context sensitivity as opposed to pure keyword frequency.

    The only revolution is the linear improvement of CPU power/RAM/storage per $ which makes it affordable to do for free or cheap.

  • Re:Is she? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by milkmage ( 795746 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @10:44PM (#39802693)


    ask google "show me the flights over head"

    https://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=show+me+the+flights+currently+overhead&oq=show+me+the+flights+currently+overhead&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_l=igoogle.3...863178.869391.0.869641. [google.com].

    first result is how to get siri to give you the answer..

    ask Siri and you get...
    delta airlines flt 2279, 7500 ft, 21 degrees up, mcdonnel douglas, 4.1 miles south-southeast
    united airlines flt 1698 25000 ft, 14 degrees up boeing 737 800 20 miles south
    virgin america flt 71 19,600 ft, 10 degrees up airbus 320, 21 miles north-northwest
    skywest airlines, flt 6410 10000 ft, 6.8 degrees up canadair regional jet, crj-200

  • Re:Is she? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iluvcapra ( 782887 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @12:24AM (#39803281)

    From their GPS receivers, cameras, and gyroscopes, and then they correlate it with whatever information on the internet they choose, be it Google, Yahoo, Bing, OpenStreetMap, Wolfram, Yelp... The point is they decide the provider, not Google.

  • Re:Voice recognition (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @12:33AM (#39803329) Journal

    I don't fully agree. Dragon requires extensive training and gets better over time the more you use it and as you actively configure macros, correct misinterpreted words, etc. Siri, google voice search, etc are speaker agnostic. That's a huge difference in technology.

  • Re:Is she? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shitzu ( 931108 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @02:23AM (#39803781)

    For me, google has got progressively worse in the last year or so. It treats everything i write as a typo and all words as optional by default. Just yesterday i got 0 relevant results on the first page (query: insync uninstall osx).
    And I don't get this natural language thing at all - i find it much easier and faster to type two-three words (google *used to* give me relevant results) than to form full sentence. Speaking with a computer is even more cumbersome and a sentence takes even more time than typing a couple of words even if the computer gets it right.
    But maybe i am just becoming obsolete and google is not meant for searching obscure commands or error messages at all.

  • Re:Is she? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Thursday April 26, 2012 @04:35AM (#39804285) Journal
    The comparison between Google and Siri is not as silly as it appears. Burrus thinks that the future of search belongs to intelligent agents, and that means more than just giving a dumb search engine a little bit of extra context in the form of personal data it has collected on you. Intelligence doesn't mean having data on where I am and what my friends "liked".

    An "intelligent" agent (best to use the word with caution) should at the very least:
    - understand your question;
    - understand the material it is searching.
    Google only does this at a very basic level, and in some cases Siri is ahead of the curve when it comes to semantic interpretation. Or more accurately: wolphram alpha is, when Siri passes your question on to it.

    There's some nice research going on in semantic analysis of search queries and source material, and ways of turning that into a sematic drill-down into search results. That can come in the form of a visualisation of search results, or (in the future) something like this:
    "Siri, I need a new washer"
    - "Do you mean dishwasher, or laundry machine, or something else?"
    "A laundry machine"
    - "What features are you looking for? Low price, economy, capacity, quality, high-speed spin drying?"
    "Well, the price is not that relevant though I want something from a reputable brand, and spend at most $800. I suppose most machines will have sufficient capacity."
    - "I am assuming a standard-size machine. I found the following A-brand machines matching your criteria, along with prices and features. I highlighted a few machines that people seem to be particularly pleased with."
    "Nr. 3 looks good, show me some reviews from trade magazines for that one, as well as what people have written about it. Is there a shop at the local Mega Mall that has them?"
    - "Hang on. Yes, it is in stock. You can pick it up but they also do free delivery to this area".

    And so on. For this, the search engine needs to understand many things: that there are kinds of "washers", that they have specific properties that may or may not be relevant, that there is a standard size for washing machines, what a "reputable brand" is and which brands qualify, and it needs to be able to interpret shop websites to figure out if they carry a particular model, what their price is, and if they deliver. Google does none of this. Wolphram alpha has some capabilities in this area (type in "dishwasher properties" for example). In the future, when these engines become better at interpreting meaning, we will have conversations with our search engine. That will be the game-changer, and something that could render Google obsolete (if they don;t get into the game themselves).

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