free html hit counter The Xooglers - John Battelle's Search Blog

The Xooglers

By - January 23, 2008

Stefanie writes up the ex-Googlers. This is just part one…and I found this very interesting (I bolded it):

Like some of his peers, Harik is investing in small companies like Wi-Fi company Meraki, and he’s helping to develop a Web-based video conferencing company called with his brother. Harkening back to his college studies of mathematical models of genetic algorithms, he’s also opening a yet-to-be-named research lab in Palo Alto to develop artificial-intelligence software for the fields of biotech and medicine. He plans to invest about $100,000 in the lab this year.

“The largest intelligence system at Google is in AdSense and the Gmail spam system, but I’ve always really wanted to see our work applied to medicine and biology, which is sort of hard to do at a company,” said Harik, adding that the software will be open-source with access to the entire medical community. The nonprofit is partially funded by Google, Harik said.

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9 thoughts on “The Xooglers

  1. JG says:

    Attila: No, even with that different angle, I think the main point remains the same. If you read between the lines, and put your emphasis there, you’ll see a glaring omission: “Search” is not one of the largest two intelligence systems at Google.

    Who would have thought that the intelligence system behind Gmail spam filtering is larger than the intelligence system behind search? I would have thought that it is the other way around. That is the big fact, here.

    All this talk about biology is a red herring. It is orthogonal to this surprising revelation: search was not mentioned as one of the two largest intelligence systems at Google.

    Am I not the only one who is completely taken aback by this?

  2. Attila Csordas says:

    Thanks for making that clear, JG. Concerning biology: focuses are different and the personal genomics service of 23andMe backed by Google and Google’s growing inter-industrial power are real.

  3. Attila Csordas says:

    Thanks for making that clear, JG. Concerning biology: focuses are different and the personal genomics service of 23andMe backed by Google and Google’s growing inter-industrial power are real.

  4. JG says:

    Yes, indeed. I do not doubt that Google is growing in power. I only wish to point out that their self-proclaimed core mission, Search, seems to have fallen by the wayside. (And this is straight from the horses mouth, from a Xoogler who was one of the first ten people to join Google, i.e. someone who can speak with authority.)

    Fighting Gmail spam appears to be more important, at least if size of intelligence systems is any indication.

    And this upsets me. I don’t want Gmail. I don’t care about Gmail. I already have email. Give me pine or elm, anyday. What I want is better search. I want search that is 10% of the way there. 30% of the way there. Not search that is 5% of the way there.

    I do not just want better search, I want new kinds of search. I’m tired of all the same old applications.. calendars, docs and spreadsheets, etc. I want search that really matters. Search that makes a bigger difference in people’s lives. Search that changes the world for the better. Not just search that finds home pages.

    A couple of months ago I gave one example of something I’d like: oil footprint search. I would like to be able to scan an item of food at the grocery store, and see how much oil was used to produce that item. How far did the ingredients travel? How much water was pumped to irrigate the fields that went into the plants that.. etc.

    If I can search for real knowledge about these sorts of things, I can make wiser choices about my consumption habits, and hopefully make the world a better place.

    So Google can create all the calendars and docs and spreadsheets that it wants to. It can put solar panels on all its properties. But when I look at that kind of thing, and compare it to what they could be doing, what big ideas and innovations could be possible, if they put their heart and soul into search rather than into Gtalk, it just makes me sad that not more is happening.

    I want to ask Hugh McLeod to create another blue monster for Google. Google: change the world, I mean, really change the world.. don’t just give me online spreadsheets.. or go home.

    Damn my lame idealism.

  5. John says:

    Isn’t this similar to the most important system at Paypal being the fraud detection/prevention system?

  6. Deepak says:

    Color me intrigued too. As I just commented on Attila’s blog, historically computer scientists often come up with some elegant solutions to biological problems, but in most (not all) cases, those are either impractical or devoid of biological context.

    What is also intriguing, that this is a non-profit and partially funded by Given the role the Gates foundation has played in research on infectious diseases, the role of will be worth watching. I hope that they focus on some immediate problems and not just the sexy problems of the day.

  7. jeff horn says:

    Xooglers & Seeking interviews for Upcoming Book!
    Hello to all, My name is Jeff Horn I’m currently writing a book on Google – Yahoo & MSN… strengths and benefits, I would like to interview any Exemployee of Google inc.

    Does not matter if you worked their 3 days or 3 years! Does not matter what department customer service to engineering!

    I’m looking for the human side of your personal experience with Google!I can be reached anytime day or night
    feel free to visit me here