Pros and cons of Google autonomous search concept

Google CEO Eric Schmidt laid out a plan for autonomous search, but it needs to approach the concept with caution.

The vision outlined by Google CEO Eric Schmidt for autonomous search that knows what you want to look for before you even think of it seems like pure science fiction. The reality, though, is that the convergence of Web search, location-based services, and social networking mean that the foundation is already there. As the concept evolves, there will be benefits and pitfalls for businesses that want to take advantage of autonomous search.

The concept of autonomous search engines randomly presenting personalized search results or targeted ads reminds me of the Tom Cruise movie The Minority Report. In that futuristic civilization people were constantly being scanned and identified, and presented with pop-up holographic marketing directed solely at them.

However, it's more reality than science fiction at this point--aside from the holographic projections at least. Google personalized search already keeps track of your Web surfing habits and search history to present you with search results that are more specifically tailored for you. Your likes and associations in social networking, as well as the comments and reviews you post regarding books, movies, restaurants, etc. also paint a picture of you as an individual.

Combine those elements with GPS tracking and location-based check-in and you have the pieces of the puzzle necessary to deliver targeted advertising customized based on your preferences and delivered with contextual relevance based on where you are and what you are doing at the time. The concept is almost as creepy as it is cool, though, and many privacy advocates will see it as a blatant breach of individual privacy rights.

From the perspective of businesses trying to market products and services, such futuristic concepts just make sense. Advertising has always been about trying to target the right demographics to elicit the best possible response to marketing efforts. There is a reason that Ping doesn't advertise golf clubs in People Magazine, or why you don't see commercials for Barbie Dolls during the NFL halftime show.

Targeting broad demographic segments, though, still has only a marginal degree of success. With direct mail marketing for example, a response of ten percent is considered a phenomenal success. That is enough to make the marketing costs worthwhile and generate profit, but it still means that 90 percent of the marketing effort is wasted.

As Google strives to implement this vision, it will have to be very careful with regard to the data it captures and how it uses it. A new study finds that many Android apps actually abuse the privileges granted by users and share information in ways that have not been explicitly approved.

Google is already under significant scrutiny from many government and privacy watchdog agencies. It will need to provide adequate disclosures and protective controls to ensure that efforts at autonomous search and targeted advertising don't encroach on individual privacy--or that users are at least aware of and agree to the level of privacy infringement necessary.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags internetGooglesearch engines

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2018

With determination and drive, you achieve outstanding performance! Get Bitdefender Total Security 2018 Now!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?