Google has been hard at work perfecting its understanding of language through various models. In the past few months alone, we were introduced to BERT, a machine learning technique that understands the nuances and context of words. Then along came SMITH, a model introduced in a Google research paper, that not only understands the relationship between words but also the context of paragraphs and how they relate to one another.
But forget about SMITH for a second. Also, BERT who? Now, MUM’s the word – Multitask Unified Model, that is. At Google’s I/O conference on Tuesday, Senior VP Prabhakar Raghavan showcased a new technology that has been described as “1000 times more powerful” than BERT in answering more complex queries. Dubbed MUM, the technology is trained on multiple languages and can perform numerous tasks all at the same time (hence the term “multitasking.”)
Some of the things MUM is able to do simultaneously include:
- Understanding and generating language
- Acquiring knowledge of the world
- Training across 75 languages
- Gaining an understanding of multiple modalities, for example, images, text and video
Raghavan provided an impressive example of MUM in action, using the simulated Search query: “I’ve hiked Mt. Adams and now want to hike Mt. Fuji next fall, what should I do differently to prepare?”
MUM enabled Google Search to show the differences and similarities between Mt. Adams and Mt. Fuji. It also pulled up articles covering the equipment needed to hike the latter.
Because MUM is capable of developing an understanding of images and video, too, Google envisions a future where a user could take a photo of a pair of hiking boots and ask Google, “Can I use these to hike Mt. Fuji?” MUM would understand this type of query and answer questions that were previously thought too complex for a machine to comprehend. In other words, MUM could provide the same information any hiking expert would.
These advancements are, in a word, incredible. Google’s understanding of language has grown in leaps and bounds, and MUM is on the next level of sophistication. And as the possibilities of what we can search expand, so, too, will SEO. MUM is not ready to roll out just yet – Google is still in the process of rigorous testing and running internal pilot programs. But it seems that SEO could enter another stage of transformation sooner than we think.
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