During its Search On '21 event, Google announced several new features related to its MUM algorithm in order to significantly improve its search engine. While exactly how and when they get implemented remains to be seen, these new possibilities, revealed in an "early" preview could allow Google to set a new milestone in e-commerce.
The MUM algorithm is getting stronger and should soon be ready for release. The Multitask Unified Model is a recently developed tool designed to significantly ameliorate searching with the Google search engine. In the view of Google, this AI tool is the key to being able to provide the most complete answer possible to the most detailed questions. Capable of processing text as well as visual data (images and video) or audio files, this artificial intelligence is seen as a prime element in the future incarnation of Google. Several new features will be introduced in the coming months according to the company.
One feature, named "things to know," will automatically extract information based on other users' searches. It enables the search engine to draw the user's attention to necessary or useful information for the use of a product or simply for the user's own curiosity, highlighting aspects that the user may not have thought of or been able to formulate. Of course some sensitive queries won't be given this treatment, fortunately. However, most topics are automatically covered and Google will have to be careful when it comes to variations.
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The second feature will encompass bringing up suggestions to help users refine or expand their queries. A simple search like "Danish painting" might suggest searches like "Danish painting techniques," "famous Danish artists" or "different Danish painting styles." To do this, the AI must understand the possibilities of related topics within each topic in order to allow users to explore and learn in an optimal fashion.
Another new feature is based on video transcription with MUM being capable of suggesting new searches based on what it hears in a video.
MUM will also allow Google to get deeper into e-commerce. With its database of more than 24 billion products and the ability to recognize an object in an image, Google aims to go even further to remotely check the inventory of a store in its Shopping tab. While some questions still remain about this process, it suggests that Google intends to compete more directly with Amazon.
However large language models remain controversial. Why? They may be prone to not being completely truthful, and such models have regularly exhibited racial or gender bias in the past because they learn from internet data. Furthermore, Google fired two of its top ethics researchers after they co-authored a paper highlighting issues raised by this new technology. It is likely for these reasons that some of the tools unveiled in May 2021 in the I/O conference have not yet been made public.