AI search Powerset to launch next month

Powerset CEO Barney Pell will demonstrate the technology called Powerlabs next week while speaking at the Singularity Summit on artificial intelligence and the "future of humanity."

Powerset, which is developing a natural-language search engine to rival Google, will finally launch its service in September after more than a year in the labs, according to the company's Web site. Powerset CEO Barney Pell will demonstrate the technology, called Powerlabs, next week while speaking at the Singularity Summit, a two-day conference on artificial intelligence and the "future of humanity" in San Francisco, according to the newsletter

Unlike search giant Google, Palo Alto, Calif.-based Powerset is using techniques in AI to train computers not just to read words on the page, but to make connections between those words, or make inferences in the language. That way, the search engine could think through and redefine relevance beyond the most popular page or the site with the most occurrences of keywords entered in a search box (which is the way Google works).

Beyond demonstrating Powerlabs, Pell plans to talk about challenges to AI. He asks in his blog: "How many man-hours have actually been applied to the task of creating human-level AI? The number is likely a tiny fraction of the research in AI fields to date," Pell wrote. "So with advanced computing and communications technology amplifying research and with a focused effort on the core problems, progress might come about faster than anyone thinks."

Other speakers at the two-day conference will include Google's Director of Research Peter Norvig and MIT AI Lab Director Rodney Brooks.

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