Search giant Google has introduced a feature which pre-emptively provides users with the phrases they were about to search for, often before they have even typed a single letter. The company claims that these predictions are based on the online behavior of users as they visit other websites, which Google monitors in order to obtain what its CEO Eric Schmidt calls “the most helpfully accurate predictive search analytics ever.”
“We’ve been working on this one for a while,” Schmidt told reporters during a press conference unveiling the new feature. “We’re especially proud of the fact that we are saving Google users the trouble of even having to think of what they are about to search for. In many cases, that information is already there and waiting for them when they pull up our search box.”
So far, consumer response has been mostly positive. “No sooner had I navigated to Google.com when it immediately pulled up the search results for “what to feed pet gerbil”, said Ohio resident Trent Parker. “I don’t know how Google knew I had just bought a gerbil, but it sure saved me three seconds of my life.”
Parker admitted that he then used those three seconds to watch pornography. “Google even knew what I planned to search for there, too,” he added, declining to comment further.
Still, there are those who feel that with this type of personalized analysis, Google has once again gone too far.
“I don’t have an issue with timesaving concept behind the predictive search feature in general,” said Sara Faust, a data analyst from Illinois. “What I don’t appreciate is the fact that when you type one letter into its search box, Google uses its knowledge of your online activity, search history and other related data to make personalized suggestions for what it believes you are searching for.”
Faust noted that when she typed the letter “w” into Google, a dropdown box displayed a list of such phrases, including, “why is my boyfriend cheating”, “why do I suck at my job”, “what are weight-loss strategies” and “w my boyfriend is cheating on me”.
“We at Google appreciate user feedback as much as the next global technology leader,” said Schmidt. “In the case of one Sara Faust of 14 Hargett Street in Chicago, we would like to respectfully note that her boyfriend, Greg, is about to search for “remove lipstick stains”, and that his coworker Amy, with whom he has been working an awful lot of late nights recently, has just searched for “signs of pregnancy”.
He added, “Maybe if Sara were worrying a little more about her own life and a little less about what Google knows about her life, which is everything, she wouldn’t be sitting around Googling “how many calories in entire box oreos” on a Saturday night. We’re just sayin’.”