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Conversational search is a new kind of philosophy for human/computer interaction. The principle behind conversational search is that a user can speak a sentence into a device, and that device can respond with a full sentence. This principle is also applied to searches: where traditional seacrhes mostly analyzed individual keywords, a conversational search looks at the whole string of words, to return human-like responses.
In terms of its implementation, Google has unveiled conversational search in its new Chrome browser, and an algorithm called Hummingbird is bringing elements of conversational search to Google’s super-popular search engine. One element of conversational search is that the technology can analyze all of the words in a conversational phrase or sentence, rather than picking out specific keywords. However, the conversational search technique goes much further than this.
Using a feature called "Google Speak Your Search," Google experts have revealed how the company uses natural speech technologies to generate spoken responses that mimic human syntax. One common example in conversational search is that responsive technologies will add in words like "is" and various pronouns, to deliver a response that seems conversational or human. For example, where a search for "Ford Mustang horsepower" might traditionally have led to Google pages with horsepower ratings for the Ford model, a conversational search asking, "what is the horsepower of the Ford Mustang" may be met with a spoken or printed response like "the horsepower of the Ford Mustang is 350 hp."
Conversational search has many ramifications for the technology community. By creating responses that are perceived as human, Google is reaching toward the Turing principle, a well-used idea in artificial intelligence that posits a system as meeting the "Turing test" by having the capacity to appear or act human in various ways.