Google’s ‘Talk to Books’ Search Engine Brings You Answers from over 100,000 Books

A quick Google search can bring you answers in a matter of moments. Need the recipe for a Shepard’s Pie? No problem. Want to know where the cheapest hotels are in Italy? Here’s a list. The internet has brought endless knowledge to our fingertips, and now a new search engine has been created which can help answer questions that don’t have a definitive answer.

During a TED talk yesterday. author and computer scientist Ray Kurzweil introduced a new search engine called ‘Talk to Books‘, a tool which scans over 100,000 volumes in Google Books and brings users insightful and interesting answers from relevant titles.

Questions can be as simple or as abstract as you like and always bring back a number of interesting and accurate responses. I decided to give the new search engine a go and came back with some very thoughtful answers.

Firstly, I asked “Do aliens exist?” I got many answers in return, including:

“Others, like cosmologist Frank Tipler (1981), are convinced that extraterrestrials do not exist because if they did they would be here by now. Given that there is nothing special about the timing of human evolution, it is fairly likely that if intelligent beings evolved elsewhere, at least half of them would ahead of us in biological evolution, which should put them far, far ahead of us scientifically and technologically, which means they would have found Earth by now.” – Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other … by Michael Shermer, Stephen Jay Gould.

Then I asked: “Why can’t I sleep?” and received an answer which read:

In cases of onset insomnia, a person will lie in bed for what seems to be a very long period but be unable to go to sleep. Stress and anxiety are frequent causes of this type of insomnia. Maintenance insomnia occurs when sleep is frequently interrupted or early waking occurs. From Discovering Psychology: The Science of Mind, Briefer Version by John Cacioppo, Laura Freberg

I decided it was time to throw the engine a real curve ball and so I asked the age old question: “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” I was surprised to find even this conundrum was no match for Talk to Books.

“Just how much wood could a woodchuck chuck? I have no idea, but if the varmint had a Facebook account, we’d all know the answer.” from Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day by Dave Evans, Susan Bratton.

As Quartz Media reports, Talk to Books is by no means designed to replace your standard Google search, but instead offers a semantics based search with an advanced AI which can understand the nuances of human language. Results are designed to intrigue, inspire, and educate and it’s interesting how answers can be both humorous and profound.

“Semantic search is based on searching meaning, rather than on keywords or phrases” said Kurzweil on his blog. “Developed with machine learning, it uses ‘natural language understanding’ of words and phrases.” He added: “It’s good for exploring ideas, it’s fun just to play with it.”

Talk to Books is certainly a fascinating new tool and is a great way to get a variety of viewpoints on a topic that doesn’t boil down to just one answer. It’s perfect for research and can help bring new ideas and ways of thinking to users in a matter of seconds.

Unfinished Jane Austen Novel to be Adapted for Television

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Jane Austen’s final novel, which has sat unfinished since her death is to be turned into a ‘lavish’ new drama series for ITV. The eleven chapter Sanditon is based along the themes she was best known for writing about, class divides, ambition, power play and matters of the heart and will be turned into an eight-part series made up of 60-minute episodes. Read More

Stig of the Dump Author, Clive King Dies, Aged 94

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Clive King, who brought us the children’s classic Stig of the Dump has died aged 94 earlier this week.

Born David Clive King in Richmond, Surrey on 24th April 1924, King grew up in Ash in Kent and was educated at the King’s School, Rochester before eventually graduating with a BA in English. From 1943 to 1946 King served as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, which took him to many places around the world including Japan where he saw the then recent devastation of Hiroshima.
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Anti-LGBT children’s book banned from Amazon

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LGBT advocates have banned a children’s book from Amazon!

Censorship is a topic we do not shy away from here at For Reading Addicts, and everyone in our community has an opinion on it. It has been quite a black and white issue for most readers- either they want all books to be published and none to be banned- or they feel it is fine to ban some topics (depending on their own political/moral leanings).

Either way it causes some discussion among book clubs and literary groups alike.

One such group is Family Rhetoric on Facebook, run by Amber Leventry- an LGBTQ advocate- who was disturbed by a title while looking for children’s books on Amazon. Amber discovered a children’s book that horrified her so much that it had to be shared with her followers on Facebook, and drove them to report the title en-masse in hopes of banning it from the major book distributer.

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Prison bans George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Books

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Books are one of the few luxuries inmates in prisons do have access to and they can be essential when it comes to keeping the minds of the incarcerated stimulated. Generally speaking, most books are okay for prisoners to read, provided they’re first checked for hidden contraband, but it seems George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire has fallen foul of the law.

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British rapper Stormzy launches Merky Books publishing imprint

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Stormzy was born Michael Omari in July 1993 in London. He rose to fame as a grime artist and rapper, and won ‘Best Grime Act’ at the 2014 and 2015 MOBO Awards. His debut album, Gang Signs & Prayer, was released in 2017 and was the first ever grime album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart.

Ever the supporter of new artists and ambitious, young people, Stormzy has teamed up with Penguin Random House to create his own imprint #Merky Books. This will be added to his other projects: his record label, #Merky Records, and his own music festival in Ibiza, #Merky Festival.

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Season 6 of OITNB is Coming – and the Trailer is Here!

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The new season of Orange is the New Black (OITNB) is coming and the release date is announced as 27th July. The Netflix series which follows the life of Piper Chapman and the other prisoners at Lichfield Prison is based on the memoir of the same name, but fans of the memoir and the show will be aware that the show has gone ‘off page’, meaning it’s no longer true to the memoir.

That isn’t stopping us from lapping it up of course and if you’ve been eagerly awaiting season 6 then here’s the trailer.  Read More



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