Google doesn’t just have all the answers. It thinks it has the questions, too.
Google is redesigning its search results page to display more information in a way it thinks will be more useful for users. Essentially, it’s going to show you the questions — and the answers to those questions — that you didn’t even know you were looking for.
It’s doing that in a few ways. The first is a new “Things to know” module that will populate below the first Google information box. That module will contain aspects of the search that Google thinks you’ll find helpful, based on the ways people have explored that topic in the past. For example, if you search “Geese,” a “Thing to know” would be how threatening they are to humans, which is obviously EXTREMELY threatening.
(P.S.: Fuck geese).
Google will also show you paths to zoom in, with a module to “Refine this search,” or zoom out, with a module to “Broaden this search.” These sections will contain related topics that are either more specific, or more general, that you can navigate to by clicking that button.
Some search result pages are getting an even more dramatic makeover. If you search for something that Google thinks is about looking for inspiration, it will display visual and other dynamic search results first.
The system making these changes possible is Google’s new advanced artificial intelligence system, called Multitask Unified Model (or MUM). MUM is able to understand questions, and provide answers, in a more detailed way than before. That’s why a Google search powered by MUM won’t just generate the most specific, most literal question. It considers the context of those questions, and other things to know, that previously would have required a human to drill down with more and more specific questions.
It’s a bit frightening to consider how much data Google had to crunch about us and the questions we’re all throwing out into the universe to create a system like MUM, but here we are.
Visual search is already live, but the other changes are due in the coming months. Are you ready for your Google to get scarily smarter? You’d better be.