Understanding searches better than ever before


Google doesn't write about its work on the actual Search product that often—much of Google's work on Search, due to its inherently adversarial nature with the entire SEO industry, is pretty opaque. But the SVP of Search, Pandu Nayak, recently posted an update that Search is now using BERT to respond to about 10% of all US-English queries. What I found most interesting were the instances of its outperformance of prior results; it's night-and-day better for a certain class of questions.

Here's the summary:

Search is not a solved problem No matter what you’re looking for, or what language you speak, we hope you’re able to let go of some of your keyword-ese and search in a way that feels natural for you. But you’ll still stump Google from time to time. Even with BERT, we don’t always get it right. If you search for “what state is south of Nebraska,” BERT’s best guess is a community called “South Nebraska.”

If Google is only now incorporating BERT into its flagship product, we are certainly a long way from seeing the commercialization of much of the stunning research wins that have happened in NLP over the past 12-24 months. Lots more to come.


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