Google has acquired Metaweb, a San Francisco based start-up, which has been working on building an open and shared database of the world’s knowledge. The Mountain View based search giant is hoping that access to MetaWeb’s technologies and metadata will allow it to gain a better understanding of the web.
Google is already quite good at throwing up pages relevant to the search query, but when it comes to directly answering questions, it still has a long way to go. Google is capable of answering straight forward queries like “India’s independence day”. However, for complicated queries like “actors over 40 who have won at least one oscar”, you will have to do all the legwork.
Semantic search is something all major search engines are currently working on. Wolfram Alpha is quite good at answering certain specific types of questions. DuckDuckGo also tries to tackle this issue by pooling in answers from various sources (including Wolfram Alpha). However, the biggest threat for Google is Facebook, simply because of the vast pool of user data that is available to the social networking behemoth.