Google 2.0: Why MIT scientists are building a new search engine

The truth is a messy business, but an information revolution is coming. Danny Hillis and Peter Hopkins discuss knowledge, fake news and disruption at NeueHouse in Manhattan.

  • In 2005, Danny Hillis co-founded Freebase, an open-source knowledge database that was acquired by Google in 2010. Freebase formed the foundation of Google's famous Knowledge Graph, which enhances its search engine results and powers Google Assistant and Google Home.
  • Hillis is now building The Underlay, a new knowledge database and future search engine app that is meant to serve the common good rather than private enterprise. He calls it his "penance for having sold the other one to Google."
  • Powerful collections of machine-readable knowledge are becoming exceedingly important, but most are privatized and serve commercial goals.
  • Decentralizing knowledge and making information provenance transparent will be a revolution in the so-called "post-truth age". The Underlay is being developed at MIT by Danny Hillis, SJ Klein, Travis Rich.
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10 smartest books you can read this summer

Recent books that are sure to add to your intelligence.

A women reads a book under the sun in the Luxembourg gardens in Paris. (Photo credit: MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Summer is a season for relaxation and folly but can also be a time to sharpen your brain against some stimulating literature. These books may not be everyone's idea of beach reading but they are sure to spark up your intelligence. While the list of the smartest books ever would likely be a Sisyphean and ultimately fruitless undertaking, here are some choices from books released within the past year.

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How an Anti-Intellectual Elite Are Turning the World Upside Down

The controversial author predicted the rise of Trump by placing "a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic, media-savvy villain sporting makeup and coloured hair" in his new book, written before the election. But can he explain the hate of knowledge that persists in the world today?

Well! Salman Rushdie pretty much predicted the future in his new book, The Golden House, wherein the antagonist is "a ruthlessly ambitious, narcissistic, media-savvy villain sporting makeup and coloured hair." Read into that what you will, but Rushdie here posits that he's baffled by the sudden worldwide rejection of knowledge and the elites. He says that it's not just an invention of the American right wing — that it's a worldwide problem that's helped in large part by the likes of Fox News et al — and he wonders both what gave rise to that and how it will stop. Perhaps he'll have to write a sequel.

Politics & Current Affairs

How Traveling Abroad Changes Your Outlook on the World for the Better

Considering that the United States remains the world's only superpower, that begs the question: How informed are Americans when it comes to their country's vast global power?

A map showing how North American media cover global events. (Qatar Computing Research Institute)
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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation

Why You Don't (and Can't) Think Alone

Science (and life) keep hammering nails “into the coffin of the rational individual." But rationalism and individualism still haunt and systematically mislead—even about where your mind is.

Illustration by Julia Suits, The New Yorker cartoonist & author of The Extraordinary Catalog of Peculiar Inventions

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