Microsoft announced in June that it has purchased natural language search startup Powerset in hopes of adding its team and technology to Live Search. The move is yet another attempt by Microsoft to chip away at Google’s market share, but at least this one is centered around staying ahead of the competition… for now.
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Powerset is a semantic search service.
It searches wikipedia only at the moment but may go further in the future. It appears to be an implementation of Tim Berners Lee’s “Semantic Web”, where we have a searche that is based on “meaning” rather than on matching words or phrases.
This could be the emergence of a Web 3.0 technology.
Powerset’s goal is to change the way people interact with technology by enabling computers to understand our language. While this is a difficult challenge, we believe that now is the right time to begin the journey. Powerset is first applying its natural language processing to search, aiming to improve the way we find information by unlocking the meaning encoded in ordinary human language.
Powerset’s first product is a search and discovery experience for Wikipedia, launched in May 2008. Powerset’s technology improves the entire search process. In the search box, you can express yourself in keywords, phrases, or simple questions. On the search results page, Powerset gives more accurate results, often answering questions directly, and aggregates information from across multiple articles. Finally, Powerset’s technology follows you into enhanced Wikipedia articles, giving you a better way to quickly digest and navigate content.