Things that Everybody Knows but Google.

If I ask the question: “How much percentage of fat is in a fat cell?” I may get several answers: none of which actually address my exact question. Since fat cells normally grow and shrink to hold more, or less fat, the answer is pretty much up in the air. You could say, there is no set percentage. Or the percentage ranges from 1% to 99.9%. or the answer is unknown.

None of these answers, except possibly the one with explicit percentages, could have enough match with any web-accessible document to show up on Google. And there would be an enormous number of results: enough so that the real answer would be totally buried.

A human, armed with the simple knowledge that fat cells shrink and grow, would simply say: “It’s like saying ‘how much air is in a balloon,’” and reply with an analogy that would let me know within seconds of the real answer.

If I ask Google, or any simple web-indexing service, I’ll not get the human’s insight into the true nature of reality. However, let us suppose, that a human answered: A fat cell is 30% fat, and the rest is mostly water. We would know that answer is meaningless and misleading. This would be true of any answer that tried to pin down the real fat content of a cell. Any one without an ulterior motive would answer simply and with the most direct answer possible.

There are any number of questions that Boggle can not answer, simply because it is a basically an indexing scheme with a heuristically organized ratings. Adding artificial intelligence, like http://ask.com/ helps a little, but the state of the art of artificial intelligence has a long, long way to go. If you ask Noam Chomsky, it may never happen.

Even the simplest of questions can cause a stumble, even true and false questions: “is there 50% fat in a fat cell?.” Or even more complicated questions: “How can I reduce the fat quantity of my fat cells to less than 20%?”

Sometimes, a human is the best information provider. Google is great, but it does have it’s limits.

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