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Artificial Intelligence
Newsletter number 1, edition 5

The changing nature of Search Engines

Search engines are the browser-oriented programs, which help the user to find web pages or documents that are similar to the key words supplied by the user. Basically, the user can find any Internet location by using key words.  After September eleven attacks in USA, most of the companies are much more concerned about the security, because of the terrorist threats; face recognition software has been used in all the major airports in the world to identify terrorists. Video cameras at the immigration check and the main doors scan the visitors face and looks for the land marks (such as cheeks, forehead, etc.), search process will be carried out basing on these land marks, if these land marks match the existing records (images) in database then the inspectors will be alarmed.  Similarly, many companies in developed countries started utilizing voice recognition software; more over it has become the most common feature in mobile phones.  So far finding documents or web pages through search engines are limited to keywords. What if, the search engines are programmed to find the documents or images basing on the picture or voice instead of key words.  Of course, it is possible to implement, but there are specific advantages and disadvantages.  At present, many number of search engines are providing special features like image search, group search, directory, news, etc., to increase the accuracy of search, but all these are limited to keywords.   Through image search a user can find the image file names matching the key words supplied by the user, so, the user is limited to find the image files matching the key words, which is not truly an image search.   With the image input, the user can narrow down the search process, for example, the user wanted to find “world maps” on the web, then the user might paste the sample image, then the search engine returns all the image files matching the user’s input.

Looking at the positive side, the user can easily paste the picture on to the box provided, as soon as the user presses “return” button, then the systems returns the list of web pages or documents that matches the supplied image. Obviously, it saves lot of time, and there will be a small list of files or documents to go through and to find required images. Will it be the same for audio files? Obviously no, because special software needs to be included to accept the user’s input, but again the searching process for similar documents is laborious and time consuming, in reality it may be difficult, but researchers might come up with new ideas to minimize the processing time. 

Looking at the negative aspects, similar images can be searched but it would certainly take much longer time, so the user may not be able to show required patience, and the search engines are to be much more efficiently programmed to work with different data types. 

Finally, image searching will also be very useful if used with Intelligent Agents. An Intelligent agent is a program, which help the user to perform repetitive tasks, summarize the data, and also in the decision making process.  Currently, intelligent agents are widely used in finding the specific list of products that would match the users requirements and constraints. Again these intelligent agents work basing on the key words or the information supplied by the user, even in such cases, the programs can be altered, to search relevant information basing on the images, which would obviously help the user to get the refined list.
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