In a less than shining moment, Caitlin Upton, the 18 year old Miss South Carolina Teen, answered a fairly simple pagent question with a nonsensical answer:
Q: Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the United States on a world map. Who do you think this is?
A: I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in, uh, South Africa and, uh, the Iraq and everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children.
Not one to miss a PR opportunity, yet-to-launch natural language search engine Powerset took a shot at parsing her answer so that queries could be run against it. Based on the query “Who does education help?” the index returned the result “Americans.” That’s an impressive result, given the nature of the data being queried.
The test shows the potential usefulness of Powerset as a search engine. The query does not match the content based on a keyword match, and the answer can only be determined via a contextual analysis of the data.
Powerset tends to look very good in demos against a limited index, as the above example shows. but it still has to prove that it can index and analyze large chunks of the web to become a viable competitor to Google and other search engines. That’s going to be their biggest challenge (and cost). Powerset still has much to prove as they prepare to launch.