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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Google plays doctor...because Google knows

What happens if you are entity than knows all people's thoughts? What new powers do you have if you know what people are looking for and what they want to find out? The case is that you are either God or you are Google, if there is really any differences between those two these days. Recently Google launched a new service that showcases the power of knowing what millions people are searching for. This new service, called Google Flu Trends, takes into consideration the searches people perform like ''flu symptoms', or 'muscle ache' and by identifying the region those queries are coming from and depending on their number, decides on the flu epidemic in the region. It makes sense doesn't it? If a lot of people are searching about flu symptoms from one area it means that an epidemic is closing by there.

google flu trends
I am not really sure as to the usefulness of that services but I am pretty sure that this is just a public Google experiment in order to find other ways to use the enormous search query database it owns. Imagine how many valuable answers we could get from carefully marshaled query data as to every aspect of human existence. Their queries reveal information about them. If enough people search for a certain thing that reveals a trend This is very expensive and valuable information that can be used for anything: politics, marketing, religion, health care, relationships etc. People tend to search for stuff that would never ask a friend or any other human, but they do ask Google about it, because they think none knows. Well..Google knows.

If many people want to, though, they can game the system. An old example of that is the google bombing campaigns. For example, today's first search trend in Google trends is flu symptoms. This means that either a lot of people sudently today got the flu(doubtfull), or that a lot of people, because of the new service, searched for flu symptoms to see what happens, or that a lot of people are messing with the system ruin the results.

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