Here’s an entirely new approach to Internet search

Yewno is a new search engine that is purported to mimic the human brain’s language processing to find related concepts without relying on keywords.

When Google launched in 1998, it blew past Yahoo, Alta Vista, MSN, and others whose names most of us have forgotten because Google’s approach to search was completely different from its predecessors. Although Google continuously improves its technology, there’s always the possibility that another approach will come along and change the landscape once again.

While more than 3 out of every 4 Internet searches today are done on Google, and that probably works fine for most people, I am intrigued by a new search engine that just launched for the academic world and that I have had a chance to try out for a couple of days.

According to the news release announcing Yewno for Education:

“Yewno recreates the way the human brain connects related yet disparate concepts to achieve deeper learning; Yewno is not based on keyword searching. It combines the most powerful components of computational linguistics, semantic analysis, neural networks and data visualization to usher in a new era of enlightened knowledge discovery.”

The idea to incorporate machine learning into Internet search is far from new. (Have you noticed how Google anticipates your next words? That’s machine learning. Google CEO Sundar Pichai explained earlier this year that Google’s future relies on it becoming a leader in artificial intelligence.

Yewno works first by amassing more than 45 million articles, books, and other texts. The system analyzes the text and identifies connections based on concepts within the words. The result is a visual depiction of the relationships between those concepts.

“Yewno mirrors the human mind’s own lateral thinking by pulling together and synthesizing analogous yet unrelated concepts to achieve deeper learning,” said Ruggero Gramatica, Yewno CEO and Founder, in a news release. “It generates results that evoke our natural abilities, using computational modeling to elegantly present both abstract knowledge and concrete linkage patterns in a visual matrix. The outcome is a transformation in creative capacity and critical thinking.”

Trying Yewno out for a search about cognitive flexibility for an article on brain science that I am thinking about writing, the results were helpful. I am not a scientist, so I will credit Yewno with identifying sleep apnea, eating disorders, and impulsivity as related concepts. I do not think I would have made those connections using other search engines, at least not on the first search. I also like that the result includes a summary paragraph that Yewno pulled from what it identified as a key article.

To see how Stanford’s library is trying this interesting search engine, check this link. It is also in use at MIT and Harvard.