Peter Norvig offers an insider’s look at Google Research during SMX West

At SMX West 2010 in Santa Clara, California, Peter Norvig, who spearheads Google’s wide-ranging research efforts, offered a behind-the-scenes look at the cool technology projects Google is developing for future products and services.

Numeric examples of PageRank values in a small...

Image via Wikipedia

Before joining Google in 2002, Norvig was the head of the Computational Sciences Division at NASA Ames Research Center, which means he is literally a “rocket scientist.” He’s also the author of over 50 publications in computer science, including Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach. But he’s also the author of the Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation and the world’s longest palindromic sentence. So, he’s a modern day Renaissance man.

Following his keynote, Norvig was peppered with questions from Chris Sherman, Executive Editor, Search Engine Land and Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land.

Perhaps the biggest news nugget in the Q&A was Norvig’s comment, “One thing that I think is still over-hyped is PageRank. People think we just do this computation on the web graph and order all the pages and that’s it. That computation is important, but it’s just one thing that we do.”

Here are the 21 projects Norvig showed the audience:

1. Person Finder, which is being used to look for people following the Chile earthquake.

2. PowerMeter, a free software tool that allows you to view your home’s energy consumption.

3. Earth Engine, a new computational platform for global-scale analysis of satellite imagery.

4. Trike and Snowmobile. No, I’m not making this up. See the YouTube video below.

Introducing the Street View snowmobile

5. User photos in StreetView.

6. Image Swirl, which organizes image search results based on their visual and semantic similarities and presents them in an intuitive exploratory interface.

7. Web-scale Image Annotation. It’s cool, but only a rocket scientist can describe it.

8. Image Rotation Captcha, which shows an image, but randomly rotats it and asks the user to rotate it to “up.”

9. Goggles, which lets you use pictures taken with your mobile phone to search the web.

10. Discontinuous Video Scene-Carving, which lets you squish video down, like the cropping tool you’d find in Photoshop and similar image tools.

11. Sharing Cluster Data. This is also cool, but only a rocket scientist can tell you why.

12. App Inventor for Android, which lets you create new mobile applications, even if you don’t have a programming background.

13. Speech Recognition, which automatically transcribes videos from YouTube’s Politicians channels from speech to text. Hey, I don’t make this stuff up.

14. Punctuation/Capitalization in Transcribed Speech.

15. Translating Phone.

16. Low-resource MT: Yiddish. Mazel tov!

17. Sound Understanding.

18. Google Squared, which takes a category and creates a starter ‘square’ of information, automatically fetching and organizing facts from across the web.

19. Clustering.

20. Attribute Extraction.

21. Browser Size, a visualization of browser window sizes for people who visit Google.

If you want to watch Norvig’s keynote, WebProNews streamed it live.

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