True Knowledge: Natural Language Search Engine

Making a natural language search engine for the masses–keep it on the DL.

True Knowledge is an internet search company that has produced as a key product, a new natural language search engine, although they don’t say that. Also missing is “semantic.” I only mention this because it seems to me thattrue knowledge new search True Knowledge and Freebase before it, have put high-level techno terms like these at arm’s length. Maybe it makes them more palatable, maybe it is less intimidating, maybe everyday folks will be a lot more inclined to add such a search engine to their daily search habits if it looks and smells not too unlike another.

Here’s what True Knowledge proposes to do: deliver “direct” and concise answers to natural language queries. For example, TK’s example “is jennifer lopez single?” received a direct “NO” — parsed from the data existing in the SE’s database, plus highlighted results for the natural language query, PLUS ordinary keyword search results in case TK is unable to find the information–“at least you’ll have the results you’d have on any other given day.”

Right now the engine has just launched a private beta version, so it’s anyone’s guess how long it will be before she’s open for business. But if you’d like a preview of the API and the technology behind this newest search engine effort, then take a look at the site. There’s a video introduction that gives about a 7 minute run-down of the features and benefits of True Knowledge.

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Who is Cyc?

Some search engines vie for fairy dust, others just ante up the goods.

tolkien’s middle earth map

Semantic search engines vie to harness the same fairy dust as did Google–once upon a time. But charismatic, enigmatic, and dismissive geeky upstarts that make billions upon billions of dollars of course earn as many foes as they do dough. My point is that Google’s limelight is still enviable and new search engines like the mysterious Powerset and Hakia are in line.

But, outside the West Coast Search celebrity there are other semantic web forces to be reckoned with that have actually been chipping away at the natural language lexicon for years.

Cyc, “the world’s largest and most complete general knowledge base and commonsense reasoning engine,” is already a working product for corporate and industrial users. I’ve just happened on it and am still trying to digest the literature, but it reminds me of a mini IBM WebFountain, without thecycorp logo supercomputing gusto, but, a powerful engine, nevertheless, that has already “learned” <…..THIS much……>

“What does Cyc know?” According to founder and developer, Doug Lenat, Cyc is able to negotiate this question: “Which American city would be most vulnerable to an anthrax attack during summer?”

Where can I get my very own Cyc?

Like most open source systems designed for industrial applications, Cyc is not nearly as consumer-friendly as a Powerset or Hakia. There is no intuitive, slick little interface. Instead the Cyc main page smacks of the magic language of software developers and Unix users and computer wizards. This is middleware land, Middle Earth, Hobbit-ville. Which makes it all the more enigmatic–I want one.