Monday, April 16, 2018

Google "Talk to Books" uses natural language algorithms to answer theological questions

Google recently announced a "Talk to Books" feature which conducts searches at the sentence level rather than the word level.
With Talk to Books, we provide an entirely new way to explore books. You make a statement or ask a question, and the tool finds sentences in books that respond, with no dependence on keyword matching. In a sense you are talking to the books, getting responses which can help you determine if you’re interested in reading them or not.
You ask a question, see the excerpts that the natural language algorithm has identified as matches, and then can choose to see the excerpt in context in the book where it occurs. checked it out and provides some interesting examples. As noted there, you are going to get mixed results, as you might expect, since Google can only search through books it has analyzed. As OpenBible note, the results will often point to books by evangelical publishers who have promoted indexing of their books by Google. I did not find, however, that the excerpts pulled up many old, public domain texts.
Here are some examples I tried:
So, yes, this may have value for a particular type of theological / biblical question. OTOH, when I asked "Which Gospel is the best one?", the first two excerpts pointed to John, but the third pointed to Marcion!
HT: Sean Boisen on Twitter

1 comment:

  1. Of course, the last question might be an example of 'ask a silly question, get a silly answer'? God thought we needed four gospels and never declared one 'best'!

    More seriously not having tried this yet - I am impatient to, but work is getting in the way - your and OpenBible's results are really interesting.