Early hopes for Artificial Intelligence soon evaporated. But, driven by the need for smarter searching and advert placing, increasingly sophisticated algorithms, combined with the sheer amount of data on the Web, have led to a growing "Web intelligence". Gautam Shroff explores this trend, its conceptual basis, and what the future may hold.
As we use the Web for social networking, shopping, and news, we leave a personal trail. These days, linger over a Web page selling lamps, and they will turn up at the advertising margins as you move around the Internet, reminding you, tempting you to make that purchase. Search engines such as Google can now look deep into the data on the Web to pull out instances of the words you are looking for. And there are pages that collect and assess information to give you a snapshot of changing political opinion. These are just basic examples of the growth of "Web intelligence", as increasingly sophisticated algorithms operate on the vast and growing amount of data on the Web, sifting, selecting, comparing, aggregating, correcting; following simple but powerful rules to decide what matters. While original optimism for Artificial Intelligence declined, this new kind of machine intelligence is emerging as the Web grows ever larger and more interconnected. Gautam Shroff takes us on a journey through the computer science of search, natural language, text mining, machine learning, swarm computing, and semantic reasoning, from Watson to self-driving cars. This machine intelligence may even mimic at a basic level what happens in the brain.