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Web search in an AI world: small, cute, distributed.

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There is arguably little scope in 2016 for reinventing Web search. The technology is mature, and served by well-functioning commercial entities. At the same time, it seems that the very notion of Web search might be becoming obsolete: in a world where the most recent advances in AI promise general language understanding, combined with visual processing and multi-agent learning, does searching the Internet still require special algorithms?

In this talk, I will present PeARS, an open-source project aiming at building Web search on top of a more generic agent-to-agent communication algorithm. The search process is akin to ‘calling a friend’ over a distributed network of private machines and is thus configurable by each user. The system builds on the latest research in distributional semantics rather than a classic Information Retrieval algorithm. I will show how this choice brings the promise of an AI-based search, including sophisticated language understanding and the seamless integration of perceptual data, while being confronted with age-old questions in linguistics.

Note also, on November 10, there will be a workshop on Open Source and NLP involving Dr Herbelot and other members of the PeARS team: please see

This talk is part of the Wednesday Seminars - Department of Computer Science and Technology series.

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