Posted by: Marshall Sponder | May 10, 2008

Powerset going to Google, Microsoft or someone else?

To me, anything that can beat Google is worth acquiring – or even anything that gives anyone the idea that it might legitimately beat Google, is something worth taking a look at – and it looks like Powerset, which I’ve never actually demo’d – can do something that Google can’t according to TechCrunch – Powerset’s Dilemma: Go For It, Or Sell

For now, Powerset will query only Wikipedia and Freebase. But as I said when the product was demo’d to me a few weeks ago, it is compelling nonetheless: “When I tested the service I had something very similar to the “Aha!” feeling that ran through me the first time I ever used Google. In short, it is an evolutionary, and possibly revolutionary, step forward in search.”

I’d love something to come out that gives Google pause – no doubt, if Google thinks Powerset is all that good – they’ll buy it – I doubt they’d let Microsoft have it.

There’s not much more I can say about Powerset because I haven’t seen it myself – and I won’t write details about something I don’t know anything about – but I trust Michael Arrington – if he thinks Powerset is “that good” the I say – let’s give Google a run for the money.



  1. You’ll see it soon enough and we’ll be excited to see your reaction!

  2. is further ahead of Powerset. If anyone should be aquired by Google, MSN or Yahoo is should be Cognition. Here is why:

    Cognition’s Semantic Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies add word and phrase meaning and understanding to computer applications, providing a technology and/or end-user with actionable content based upon semantic knowledge. This understanding results in simultaneously much higher precision and recall of salient data within the universe of possible results. Cognition’s Semantic NLPTM makes technologies and applications more human-like in their understanding of language, thereby resulting in more robust applications, greater user satisfaction and new capabilities available for exploitation. On the Web in particular, powering applications with Cognition’s semantic understanding technology drives these applications ever closer to Web 3.0 (the semantic Web).

    Cognition – Giving technologies new meaning.TM

    Cognition Technologies, Inc. (“Cognition”) is a next generation Semantic Natural Language Processing (NLP) company, based in Culver City, CA.

    What is Semantic NLP?

    Semantics is the sub-field of linguistics that is devoted to the study of meaning, as expressed by words, phrases, sentences, and even larger units of speech or text.
    Natural Language Processing (NLP) is a sub-field of artificial intelligence and computational linguistics. It studies the problems of automated generation and understanding of natural human languages by computers.
    Cognition’s Semantic NLPTM is technology that “understands” word and phrase meanings within context in modern computer applications. Cognition’s mission is to make its clients’ technologies and applications more human-like in the understanding of language and more profitable.
    Cognition’s Semantic NLP has been in development for over 23 years by Dr. Kathleen Dahlgren, Cognition’s co-founder and CTO, and a team of linguists and computer scientists. Cognition’s technology employs a mix of linguistics and mathematical algorithms which has, in effect, taught the computer the meanings of virtually all the words and frequent phrases within the common English language. Semantic Natural Language Processing is superior to common pattern matching that is found in most search engines and text-interaction tools because it focuses on the understanding of word and phrase meanings within context. No other commercially available natural language processing technology comes close to Cognition in its breadth and depth of understanding the English language.

    Cognition’s Semantic NLP technology contains one of the world’s largest computational dictionaries. It includes:

    506,000 Word Stems (the base forms of a word)
    536,000 Concepts
    17,000 Ambiguous Words – the most frequently used words in English language
    191,000 Phrases
    Over 4 million semantic contexts
    76,000 synonym sets
    Cognition’s place in the world related to the “Semantic Web” (Web 3.0) and Google
    Cognition employs semantic technology to delve into the meaning of words and phrases, and unlike others who are trying to make the Semantic Web a reality through hand-tagging, such as Web Search, Cognition applies its Semantic NLP to other technologies to give these products and services a differentiation and competitive edge.

    “We look at what we’re doing as a significant component to the Semantic Web,” said Scott Jarus, Cognition’s CEO, “Our focus on semantically enhancing other technologies means we’re not competing with Google, Yahoo! or other consumer Search engines. Indexing the entire World Wide Web ourselves is not currently on our business roadmap. However, we might become a semantic component of someone else’s application which may index deep content on the Web similar to the examples you can see on our Website.”

    Scott Jarus
    Chief Executive Officer

    Scott joined Cognition Technologies in 2006 as an investor and then as its CEO. Mr. Jarus has more than 25 years of management experience in the telecommunications and Internet industries, beginning with a company that built one of the world’s first public packet-data switching networks. Prior to joining the Cognition, Scott was President and chief executive of j2 Global Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: JCOM), a profitable billion dollar market cap company whose signature product, eFax®, served more than 9.5 million customers with a local presence in more than 1,500 cities in 25 countries on 5 continents. Preceding j2 Global, Mr. Jarus was President and Chief Operating Officer for OnSite Access, the premier building-centric Integrated Communications Provider (voice, data, Internet and enhanced services) serving businesses in 22 markets throughout North America. In addition, he served in various senior management positions at RCN Telecom, Multimedia Medical Systems (which he co-founded) and Metromedia Communications.

    Mr. Jarus serves on the Board of Directors of and Ironclad Performance Wear [ICPW.OB]. In 2005, Mr. Jarus was named the National Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year for Media/Entertainment/Communications (and Los Angeles Entrepreneur Of The Year for Technology in 2004). He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Kansas.

    Kathleen Dahlgren, PhD
    CTO / Founder

    Dr. Kathleen Dahlgren is the Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Cognition Technologies. She began her career as a professor of computational linguistics at Pitzer College of the Claremont Colleges and then worked for IBM at their Los Angeles Scientific Center, focusing on building a “natural language understanding system.” Dr. Dahlgren has a Ph.D. in Linguistics and a post-doctorate in Computer Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has published a number of scholarly articles on the subjects of linguistics and computer science, and is the author of Naive Semantics for Natural Language Understanding. She is the co-author of Cognition’s seminal patent (1998), and she received the Small Business Innovation Award from the U.S. Army in 1995. Currently, she is also an adjunct professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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