If you search then you will find (Part 2)

How clever is search today?

There was a time when search just provided search results but today searches provide you with answers and even options to help you make a decision. This however, is not a new concept and even as far back as 1996 AskJeeves saw the potential of a digital assistant.

Here’s a few examples of what Google knows about me, my environment and even what it knows about the future:

  1. It understands my time, based on my location   Google understands my time based on my location
  2. It understands arithmetic and currenciesGoogle understands arithmetic and currencies
  3. It understands future eventsGoogle understands future events
  4. It understands navigation and current traffic conditions (providing me with information to help me make decisions)Google Understands Traffic
  5. It understands the weather, in the future, at a specified locationGoogle Understands The Weather
  6. and it understands languagesGoogle Understands Language

Wow, quite an impressive progression from just providing a simple list of websites from a search query. For more information on Google’s ability to answer questions see this Quora post.

The Rise of the Personal Assistant

A few years ago the big technology companies understood the what was happening in the marketplace, the widespread use of mobile devices, always on internet and improvements in AI. This gave rise to the intelligent personal assistant (IPA). Now accessing the internet and content was as easy as saying ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey Siri’ and simply asking a question as shown in the movie below:

IPA technology has moved on from being confined to phones and tablets and today’s technology doesn’t even require a keyboard or screen: the rise of Amazon Echo and Google Home.


Search has become a powerful tool that we cannot live without in the digital age. This technology is all around us, integrated into many systems and devices, it’s becoming more intelligent, personalised and powerful by the week. In any rapid changing environment we must be aware of the challenges and opportunities this technology offers us and in Part 3 in this series on search we’ll examine what do the advances in search and personal assistants mean for BMJ.

The 1st article in the series can be found here