Can Google Really Predict the Future?

Google may soon put psychic readers out of business. Google is steadfastly working on predicting the future and is getting better at it every day.

Soon, Google may know what movie you plan to see, what dress you are going to buy – even what you might have for dinner. Cool or scary?

Google can already, very accurately, predict most of the terms you are going to use in a search. Google even seems to know your next thought. Can Google take this further and predict the future? The answer appears to be yes!

google predictions

If you use Google’s search engine services at all, you are probably already aware that it finishes your sentences for you when you type in a search phrase. Many times, it eerily appears to be reading your mind. It seems to know what you are going to ask. Even what you were going to ask next.

People have become so accustomed to this technology, that there are Internet memes and jokes about having to actually finish typing a search phrase yourself, as if it’s too laborious. Yes Google, read my mind please.I am too lazy to type.

When it comes to the web, we all know that Google is the omniscient, omnipresent assimilator of all content on the Internet. Google is the omnipotent, self-appointed guardians and police force of the web. If the World Wide Web is truly a world, then Google is its God.

Gods are all-knowing, all-seeing of things past, present and future. Therefore, if Google is the God of the Internet, it is quite possible that Google can see the future.

Google has captured, stored and analyzed every piece of information on the Internet. Google knows the past, and even the present as it evolves – with lightning speed.

The “magic” behind Google’s prediction technology

Let’s think about how Google does what it does. At its core, Google’s power lies in the power of its algorithms.

According to Wikipedia:
An algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. Algorithms perform calculation, data processing, and/or automated reasoning tasks.

It is reasoning algorithms that are able to predict which words you are likely to enter in a search phrase. This comes from analyzing patterns, the frequency of those patterns and the logical assumption of the odds of which word or words you may use next.

It’s simply a matter of looking at probability based on prior actions. So why wouldn’t Google be able to connect the dots beyond search phrases? Undoubtedly, they can.

Google can already look at the instances of people using certain words or phrases worldwide, in real-time, and use that to predict actual events in the world. They have already done this successfully.

google predictions

Google Trends

One iteration of Google’s predictive technology is Google Trends. It tracks words and phrases used in searches, what type of searches (news, image, web, shopping, YouTube), as well as, new stories, top topics and rising topics.

This information is so accurate, people in many fields rely on it for making intelligent decisions. For example:

– People that make or sell products use it to analyze what products are gaining in popularity and which are losing interest.

– Sociologists use it to see patterns in people’s behaviors.

– Editors and writers use it to track events, popular stories and pop-culture trends.

– And the list of uses goes on and on.

People are beginning to wonder if Google can predict the results of elections. A recent study by the New York Times, suggests that data from Google searches prior to the caucuses and primaries, aligned very accurately with electoral results in three states.

Google trends has predicted flu outbreaks. Its data has correlated with CDC statistics for suicide and self-injury.

Can you use Google trends to predict your future?

Yes, in some ways you can. Although in practice, its usage would be more like asking a question of the Magic-8 ball. Meaning, it works best for giving simple yes or no answers or decision-making.

For example, let’s say you’re about to try a new weight loss system.

Your question to the Google Trends “Oracle” would be: will this weight loss system help me?

If you look at Google trends data over a long enough time span you may be able to spot a pattern that would help you make a decision. For example, if the data shows that popularity in the system is dropping, it would indicate that this product does not work.

Therefore the Google Oracle answers your question with: NO.

Google trends has shown to perform very well as a broad indicator for subjects such as:
housing markets, current sales, foreclosures, economic uncertainty, consumer consumption, voter turnout, election participation, public opinion, trendy news, tomorrow’s news, entertainment, investing, movement in the markets, corporate revenues, trading volume, and momentum.

Google is highly invested in being able to predict the future

In 2010, Google along with In-Q-Tell (the CIA’s investment arm), invested an undisclosed amount in Recorded Future, a company that is working to accurately predict the future.

Recorded Future initially worked on making market predictions in the financial sector. However, Recorded Future has made a shift towards cyber-security predictions.

Recorded Future also makes predictions for topics such as: geopolitical news, public figures, industry changes, technology and information security.

google predictions

Google Prediction API

Google’s cloud platform has a product titled: Google Prediction API. Google’s prediction API uses pattern matching and machine learning capabilities.

A company gives the API its training data to learn from. The prediction API then can predict a numeric value or category to describe a new piece of data.

Google’s prediction API can actually do things such as:

Predicting what movies or products a customer might like, guessing whether posted comments are positive or negative, separating spam emails from those you need to read, even guessing how much a customer might spend on a given day.

The prediction API can learn, detect and then act upon what it has learned.

What will Google’s future predicting technology bring?

Future prediction technology is quite nearing the ability to predict things such as: protests, terror attacks, shortages, environmental dangers, a box office flop, a stock tumble, a popularity decline, human behavior and reaction.

What are the implications of having such technology available to us? Knowing the future can be helpful, while some may feel that it is a dangerous thing.

When it comes to predicting the future, history is shown there has always been to camps: those who believe knowledge is power and those who believe ignorance is bliss.

Either way, Google’s ability to predict the future is no longer a matter of “if” but a matter of “how broadly.”

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