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 Home > Best Search Engines > Best Overall  > Review of Ask Jeeves

Is Ask Jeeves Intelligent?

Ask Jeeves has enjoyed a pleasant ride on the publicity wagon over the past year (editor's note: this refers to 1999).  After all, Jeeves is the famous internet butler who will answer ALL your questions (yep, they had once made this claim although the have since removed it).

We at SquirrelNet disagree with the hoopla.  Before reading the rest of this article, you may want to try a search at Ask Jeeves yourself.  Click here here to give Ask Jeeves a test ride.

Jeeves "Natural Language Processing" Not a Big Deal
Jeeves' natural language processing abilities are quite trivial.  We do not think it is amazing that Jeeves can understand my question "What is the capital of New York?"  In this case, since the "what" doesn't add much meaning, Jeeves simply strips the words "what", "is", "the" and "of" from the question to produce "capital new york".  This is quite similar to what you would typically input into another search engine.  In fact, Google responds perfectly well to questions as well - simply by filtering out common words like "where" and "who".

Now, natural language processing does have its time and place.  In the early 80's, a famous text-adventure computer game called Zork introduced amazing natural language processing abilities to the masses.  A player could type in entire sentences and the program would usually understand.  This game was great because you could replace a set of commands such as

get sword
use sword
kill dragon

with the much simpler

Pick up the sword and use it to kill the dragon.

Thus we don't think search engines are an impressive implementation of natural language processing.

"Is Ask Jeeves Intelligent?"  Page Two


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