Will Google Ever Be Smart Enough to Go Cyberdyne?

Ever since Google began indexing the web way back around the turn of the center, it’s pretty much been the go to place for finding things online. In fact, before Facebook, Google was pretty much the #1, 100% starting point for anyone about to go online. Previously, one might fire up the ol’ AOL or go to Yahoo!’s directory pages and start clicking through: Web Services > Web Design > Freelance Web Designers > … and so on. The problem with this was that a huge percentage of the Web-surfing population was growing incredibly old waiting for 56k pages to load up just so they could get to their local list of pizza directories.

Over the years, Google has grown from a great web search company with a lousy logo to an all things web — email, calendars, social networking, healthcare, video — whatever can be done on the web, it’s likely you’ll be touching on Google’s toes to get to it.

But the problem is, Google still isn’t smart enough. For example, if you search for pgh, the three letters Pittsburghers use to shorten their city’s name for bumper stickers and the like, Google brings up a stock entry for Pengrowth Energy Trust. They’re up 0.01 as of today, but really, who cares? Searching for Pittsburgh produces utterly different results, including a map. Anyone from Pittsburgh and probably most of the five people who care about Pengrowth Energy are aware that PGH = Pittsburgh, but Google can't seem to figure it out. I mean, we're talking about a behemoth web company that previously employed scholars to answer people's search queries and has offices in prestigious colleges like Pittsburgh's own Carnegie Mellon University. What's the issue, here, PGH?

And when it comes to location, for all of the Maps and Local and Places and Hotpot and everything else Google does that is so based around location, it doesn't seem to know when a company is based in the city of Pittsburgh itself, or say, outside in a nearby city (like Cranberry Township). Google still seems to give undue credit to domain names - so a domain like pittsburghwebdesign.com, with a site that sat with dummy copy for over a year (and which has now only recently been updated with actual copy), was hanging around the top three or four results for a search for pittsburgh web design, though the company itself didn't seem to really even exist (a failing spurt off of an old ISP company here in Pittsburgh, it seems) and the website had one page of non-sense copy.

So the answer to the question posed by this post is "definitely not any time soon." The Terminator movies had it all wrong, the time for the uprising of the machines has long come and gone, and we're all still here. Google is not the new Cyberdyne, however it is highly likely that they will release a new service in the near future which allows you to chat with search engine spyders in a somewhat complicated interface via Orkut anytime soon.

Up Next: Thunder Buck Moon, July 15th, 2011