Google saves the world five seconds at a time

Google just announced new technology that will cause search results to be predictively presented to the user as they type each letter of their search, saving the user from having to type their entire search, or hit enter after each search. According to Google’s Vice President, this will save the user an average of “two to five seconds…” from each search. This is what they have been working on as their next generation of search. It’s impressive, to be sure.

But does it strike anyone else as odd that we, as a society, are putting our technological efforts and resources into developing technologies that save us seconds each day when we can’t, as a society, get it together to develop infrastructure and transportation technology that will save us hours from commuting? It seems perverse that most Google engineers probably sit in California traffic for over an hour each day so that they can come into work and make sure nobody has to wait more than 15 seconds for a search result.

6 thoughts on “Google saves the world five seconds at a time

  1. Alain DeWitt

    Jon,

    As an on-again, off-again resident of the Washington, DC, area, I understand about traffic. Even though the Washington metro area is only the 8th largest in the US, it regularly ranks in the top two or three for traffic problems.

    Maybe Google should work on traffic optimization? After all, roads are just networks and the vehicles packets of data.

    Alain

    1. Jonathan Post author

      That’s a good point. They keep telling us we’ll have automated cars “in the next ten years” but it never happens. Once they get car automation down, then our problems will be solved. As you said, we’ll just have a computer handle the traffic.

  2. Larry

    Hi Jonathon,

    I wound up here on your article looking into Google’s search feature you mentioned. Personally, I find it annoying that my query gets filled in automatically (especially since I still look at my keyboard while typing…lol. If the search results are filled in for me, I don’t even notice). So for me, the money spent adding this “new feature” was not well spent at all.

    Regarding infrastructure and technology, I couldn’t agree with you more. I left New York many years ago partly due to the traffic situation and now in Florida, it’s the same problems here. Something needs to be done about it and would be a worthy project to help the labor market as well.

    1. Jonathan Post author

      Thanks for writing, Larry. The instant search thing hasn’t grown on me, either. If anything, I find it distracting, not helpful. I did read another blog which suggested that the true utility of the instant search is on mobile platforms, where typing is much harder and you might actually appreciate seeing the results come up before you have to finish pecking out the whole term. I can see that, but I’m really not getting the point of it on the desktop. On the other hand, I don’t really get Twitter, either, and I’ve stopped logging in to Facebook a few months ago. I’m starting to wonder about the blog, too… 🙂

      1. Larry

        Using the instant search feature with mobile sounds like a good idea, if you use a mobile phone for your internet browsing.

        Thanks for posting and bringing up both the instant search feature AND our transportation issues. Don’t give up on the blog either. If used the right way, plenty of good can come out of using them between bringing awareness to certain topics or helping others in ways you would otherwise not have been able to.

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