Google is great at finding answers to any question you have. After all, there are millions of people out there who have likely asked the same questions.
But what happens when you ask Google something it's never seen before?
That's the job of Google's artificial intelligence system RankBrain, which was revealed in a Bloomberg story on Monday.
According to Google's senior research scientist Greg Corrado, RankBrain tackles a "very large fraction" of all the total number of Google searches — about 15% of the millions of queries it receives every second, the company says — by embedding the text from people's searches into mathematical vectors that the computer can actually understand.
Once RankBrain analyzes the text through vectors, it can isolate words or phrases it doesn't understand. It can then guess the meaning based on similar words and phrases and filter the results accordingly.
Corrado says RankBrain is different from the "hundreds" of signals and technologies that contribute to Google's Search algorithms in that it actually learns and improves over time.
Google says it's only used RankBrain to handle this massive search load for the "past few months," but Corrado says RankBrain is actually better at predicting top search results than Google's own search engineers. And now, RankBrain appears essential to Google. Corrado said turning RankBrain off at this point "would be as damaging to users as forgetting to serve half the pages on Wikipedia."
RankBrain is just one part of Google's recent, major investment in artificial intelligence and machine learning.