Google Finally Answers a Question!

Since around 1999 people have been typing questions into Google only to be confronted with a list of websites which may possibly contain the answer.

Google has got rather good at picking the right website and will sometimes even chose a page description which shows that it has found some information which may really help answer the question.

However, today, for the very first time in 12 or so years, Google answered my question! I was so excited I took a screenshot and started blogging. I have not dared yet to ask another question in case Google only has one answer so far. So, what was my question?

Who Owns Harrods?

I actually forgot to include the question mark, but Google is suddenly so eager to answer questions that it does not mind that there is a lack of punctuation. What was the answer?

Best guess for Harrods Owner is Mohamed al-Fayed

Not only did Google answer, it was not even sure of an answer, so guessed! Even Wolfram Alpha cannot guess stuff (or answer anything useful for that matter).

So, the proof that Google answered me is here:

Google answer in search

This really is smart. I am subscribed to the Google blog and not seen anything yet, so maybe I am one of the privileged few that get to see it in action during testing. Can you believe it?

Google also provide a feedback button / link next to the answer. I feel like trying that now and saying, “well done Google, you have really grown up now!

I wonder what Ask Jeeves will make of this? There results have been pretty much like Google’s for a long time (at least when I last looked they were), that is, not actually answering, just providing links to websites that may contain the information which you can use to formulate an answer.

Google, no longer a search engine, now an answer question.

I wonder what question would result in the answer “42”?

  3 comments for “Google Finally Answers a Question!

  1. Webologist
    June 21, 2011 at 12:43 am

    OK, I just asked “what is a duck?” and it provided another answer, and seemed very sure as it did not ask for feedback.

    The answer was: “duck/dək/
    Noun: A waterbird with a broad blunt bill, short legs, webbed feet, and a waddling gait. The duck family (Anatidae) also includes geese and swans, from which ducks are distinguished by their generally smaller size and shorter necks.”

  2. June 21, 2011 at 1:03 am

    Neat! It looks like it will give you an answer if the term is located in Wikipedia, dictionary.com or a bunch of other reference type books. Cool find.

  3. Webologist
    June 21, 2011 at 1:09 am

    More than that. The Harrods example was from newspapers and an unusual question really. Although so far I have not found anything as good as that. I asked “who is president” and similar and it references official sites, but does not say “the president is …..”

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