Mike Elgan: How Google plans to clone you

Google is working on a virtual version of you. Will you call it 'Mini-Me?'

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Google is working on being proactive

Schmidt has also said recently that Google will be able to "suggest what you should do next [based on] what you care about. Imagine: We know where you are, we know what you like."

Google will increasingly use this knowledge to suggest things, to proactively and creatively remind you of things or to bring your attention to facts. Google might beep your phone and say: "Your friend Janet has a birthday tomorrow. Why don't you buy her some chocolate? Her favorite chocolate store is just around the corner, and they're having a sale right now."

The Semantic Web is coming soon

The consensus among programming geniuses is that tomorrow's Internet will be far more intelligent. The Semantic Web, or Web 3.0, is a vision for the Internet where software can read online content and make sense of it.

Today's Internet is search-based. If you want to know something, you type words into a search engine. The search servers don't "understand" your query, and they can't read the pages offered as results. They're just looking for your keywords, and they rank the results based on other collected information, such as the arrangement of words on the page, the number of links to that page, etc.

Tomorrow's Internet will involve something akin to machine understanding. Instead of typing in a search keyword, you'll simply ask a question. Semantic Web servers will find the best results, then come back and summarize them for you.

You'll ask a question like, "What is the name of the lead flying monkey in 'The Wizard of Oz'?" Instead of returning a bunch of movie fan pages, the result will simply be: "Nikko." You won't have to see "pages," just results or answers.

Of course, Google will not only know everything about everything and everyone, it will also be keenly aware of all aspects of what Facebook calls your "social graph." Tomorrow's social Semantic Web will handle requests like, "Tell everyone I know who's nearby that I'll be a Barney's Bar for a while," and questions like, "What movie would my friends recommend?"

Your own virtual you

Put all this together, and what've you got? What happens when Google services can talk to you and understand what you say, know everything about you and everyone you know, make intelligent suggestions proactively and understand everything on the Internet? And talk in your voice.

What you'll have is a clone of yourself.

You'll simply ask your clone to do things -- "Buy a newish book I'll like," "Ask Steve if he's free for lunch tomorrow and pick a place," "Send all my Christmas cards," or "Find something fun for me to do this weekend."

When your Google self leaves voice-mail or calls your friends, it will be in your voice. It will know your mind -- your preferences, history and choices -- and act accordingly on your behalf. It will say the things you would say, and make the choices you would make.

"Google Me" would be a great name for this service. Or you might call it "Mini-Me."

The genius of Google is not to wait until everything's ready, but to roll it out piecemeal as various bits of the vision become feasible.

The Phonetic Arts acquisition represents another important piece of the "virtual you" service of tomorrow. Google will scan your voice. It'll scan your face. It's already scanning your life, night and day.

Your Google clone is under construction. Will you enjoy this service? (Your clone would know.)

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. Contact and learn more about Mike at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free e-mail newsletter, Mike's List.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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