The Wall Street Journal’s Amir Efrati has raised eyebrows with an article (subscription required) saying Google is working to stay ahead of its rivals in internet search by introducing more so-called “semantic search” technology, Digital Trends reports. The idea is the Google’s search box wouldn’t just be a place for users to type keywords or specifically-formed queries, but a box that had an actual understanding of many of the terms, names, verbs, and references people type in — and could apply that knowledge to users’ searches. In theory, semantic search should be able to return results that reflect a searcher’s intent, and in some cases improve Google’s ability to give an answer right away without referring users off to another site. But wait — is this anything new? Doesn’t Google already put some answers right up front? And how could semantic search potentially help Google maintain its lead in the Internet search business?

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