Phil Campbell / flickr (CC by 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

Google’s search algorithm now understands more complex questions

It can now give out more complex answers.


Michelle Jaworski


Published Nov 17, 2015   Updated May 27, 2021, 3:36 pm CDT

Google’s voice assistant is about to get a whole lot smarter.

Google voice search can now understand and answer more sophisticated questions than ever before. It can process questions that include superlatives, particular points in time, and complex combinations.

Computers take time to learn a language, just like children, and Google was tired of waiting to its algorithm to learn the complexities of routine questions. So it taught the algorithm how to answer them.

“The Google app is starting to truly understand the meaning of what you’re asking,” Product Manager Satyajeet Salgar wrote on the company’s Inside Search blog. “We can now break down a query to understand the semantics of each piece so we can get at the intent behind the entire question.”

Google uses “Who was the U.S. president when the Angels won the World Series?” as an example, with a graph breaking down just how its search algorithm finds the answer. The algorithm has to research presidents, countries, baseball teams, and World Series winners to narrow it down to the year the Angels won the World Series, as well as the U.S. president in office at the time.

But Google voice search isn’t immune to the occasional mistake. If you ask it who played Dakota Johnson’s mother in Fifty Shades of Grey, it will give you the name of Johnson’s real-life mother Melanie Griffith instead of the actress Jennifer Ehle.

Google is still rolling out this update through its iOS and Android apps.

H/T TechCrunch | Photo via Phil Campbell/Flickr (CC by 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman

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*First Published: Nov 17, 2015, 10:20 am CST