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Microsoft Patents Privacy

Microsoft Patent Hints At Search Results Tailored To User's Mood, Intelligence 146

Posted by timothy
from the looks-deep-within-your-soul dept.
theodp writes "A newly surfaced Microsoft patent application, reports GeekWire, describes a 'user-following engine' that analyzes your posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to deduce your mood, interests, and even your smarts. The system would then automatically adjust the search experience and results to better match those characteristics, explains Microsoft, such as changing the background color of the search interface to suit your mood, or bringing back only those search results that won't strain your feeble brain. From the patent application: 'In addition to skewing the search results to the user's inferred interests, the user-following engine may further tailor the search results to a user's comprehension level. For example, an intelligent processing module may be directed to discerning the sophistication and education level of the posts of a user. Based on that inference, the customization engine may vary the sophistication level of the customized search result.'"
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Microsoft Patent Hints At Search Results Tailored To User's Mood, Intelligence

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's what I want, whether constructed pages of junk or Wikipedia mirrors, hat is what I do not wish to see.

    • I do not go to facebook nor I tweet

      And if they want to "judge" my "mood", that is, if they can somehow insert a cookie that follows me throughout my web-surfing journey - they have to read the messages I post on /,

      • by Sporkinum (655143)

        They will go lowest common denominator and serve you up results appropriate to Zippy the Pinhead.... Yow!

      • Given the way people communicate on the web, I think trying to infer someone's cognitive level, based on what they post is a bad, and potentially insulting idea.
        • Nah, they need to run their engine the other way and tailor it up for smart guys like you. How do I know? Anyone who wheels off "infer someone's cognitive level" ... is way above "How Is Babby Formed".

          I did a hobby-experiment with this - just set the Fleschâ"Kincaid Grade Level greater than 4th grade.

          Watch how fast THAT rules out junk results!

    • by Garridan (597129)
      Use duckduckgo. It doesn't tailor searches, doesn't track its users. It's "smart", too. When it can find potentially relevant info, it puts it right up at the top and suggests better searches based on that info. I've been using it for a week, and keep finding awesome features.
  • by troff (529250) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @06:28PM (#39759033) Homepage Journal
    You do what you need to do, people. Don't exercise your tiny little grey cells. You don't need to learn anything new. You don't need to stretch yourselves or make yourselves better. Just leave it all in our hands. That's better. Go back to sleep now.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2012 @06:30PM (#39759051)

      Don't exercise your tiny little grey cells. You don't need to learn anything new. You don't need to stretch yourselves or make yourselves better. Just leave it all in our hands.

      Huh. I think you mean Apple. It just works!

      • by troff (529250) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @07:14PM (#39759295) Homepage Journal
        You're also right. Ever since I started supporting people with iPads, I accepted the truth of that.
    • by Genda (560240) <(mariet) (at) (got.net)> on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:18PM (#39759637) Journal

      More than that, don't look for any possible truths outside of your opinions and existing personal prejudices. If you can't face facts, then design a system that gladly tells you the lies you want to hear. Promotes your ignorance and panders to your stupidity. This isn't convenience, its self perpetuating brain damage.

      • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @12:30AM (#39760547) Homepage

        Get real, in this case the headline should read M$ patents delusion. Have you ever heard of speech recognition http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_recognition [wikipedia.org], after all these years and all the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on it it still sucks. To get anywhere near accurate you have to train the person and software, the person has to remain sober and always speak in the manner they have been trained by the software to maintain. Open speech recognition is still many years off.

        This patent claim is about taking what you've typed in and based upon passed wildly intrusive privacy invasion, guess what your actually searching for.

        I have helped people search, in fact doing it for them and they often struggle to provide a clear verbal description of what they are really after, even after personally knowing them and listening to them for a few minutes. Only once the search is being done and results come up can you compare the results to what they are telling you to finally really understand what they are after.

        M$ is simply filing a patent on something they are incapable of doing just in case someone can do it. A quick review of the patent indicates that it wildly infringes upon privacy laws. Reading it seems, this patent seems to be more about throwing out a patent net for each of the described functions rather than the whole patent. A whole bunch of submarine patents.

      • by ignavus (213578)

        More than that, don't look for any possible truths outside of your opinions and existing personal prejudices. If you can't face facts, then design a system that gladly tells you the lies you want to hear. Promotes your ignorance and panders to your stupidity. This isn't convenience, its self perpetuating brain damage.

        Sounds like Fox News - and anything else that Murdoch does.

        Oh, look: prior art.

      • by houghi (78078)

        More than that, don't look for any possible truths outside of your opinions and existing personal prejudices. If you can't face facts, then design a system that gladly tells you the lies you want to hear. Promotes your ignorance and panders to your stupidity. This isn't convenience, its self perpetuating brain damage.

        I am confused. Are you talking about Microsoft or American society?

    • by mrmeval (662166)

      I keep getting ads for guns, ammo, tannerite and paracetamol! WHY? OH WHY?

      http://www.tannerite.com/ [tannerite.com]
      http://www.examiner.com/article/boa-drops-firearm-company-mcmillan-company-to-halt-accepting-boa-cards [examiner.com]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammunition_box [wikipedia.org]

      Duck Duck Go gave those links when I entered my mood.

  • by jchoyt (729301) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @06:31PM (#39759053) Homepage
    ...they treat us all like morons. Their business practices have been predatory in the past and unecessarily nasty - and that comes in a close number two reason. But I can't stand using their products because they are always "helping". And now they're gonna screw with SEARCH RESULTS? Their OS is bad...Office is worse. THIS is insulting.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      All the big names treat their customers like morons. Apple makes computers and phone tailored to fit the needs of imbeciles. Google customizes searches so you don't need to do any footwork to find what you are looking for. Microsoft does the same. Its how to sell a lot of products nowadays, people want all their thinking done for them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
              - H.L. Mencken

        • by Noughmad (1044096)

          That by itself wouldn't be so bad if catering to ididots weren't a requirement for big success.

      • by retchdog (1319261)

        yeah, hoping that linux will still boot after every kernel update and spending hours googling to (maybe) get my sound card and wifi working is the hallmark of intelligence.

        • by robsku (1381635)

          What, huh?

          Oh... I see, it's a cute green haired troll =) 3 3

          • by retchdog (1319261)

            well, yeah, a bit of a troll, but it doesn't make me wrong. apple sells the only "just works" unix available today.

    • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @06:54PM (#39759197)

      The funniest part about this is where they deduce your intelligence. Really microsoft, the finest minds on earth have yet to come up with a satisfactory definition of the term, yet your goons are going to magicalgorithm the concept into your search results?

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by davester666 (731373)

        It's self-selection at work. You're not the brightest light on the bulb with bing as your default search engine...

        • Is it fair to assume that anyone using bing is stupid? I had a piece of malware reset my firefox to bing awhile back. I was able to get rid of the malware, but firefox is still using bing as the default search. I guess what I'm getting at is that many people who use bing are victims. Would that factor into the equation at all? I wonder. And what about people that only search for porn? You may laugh, but I know a handfull of people that don't use the internet for anything else. Where do they fall into this?
      • Why even deduce the intelligence of the person? First of all, this requires knowledge of the person searching, so more tracking of people and what they do or say. Second, they're most certainly going to be wrong in a large percentage of cases and will probably offend the person searching.

        Give people a way to tune the results themselves.. maybe I want an overview of a topic to see what it's about, and another day I want to delve deeper.

        Way to turn something simple into something that requires more trac

      • I disliked MS a lot when I created this account hence my name 11 years ago.

        However, I will say recently MS has got a lot better (with the exception of metro). MS tried go the route with BoB, clippy, and the whole garbage of MS products like MS Dogs (actual product) in CompUSA back in the 1990s.

        Windows 7 has saved search results, can organize many Windows at once, and do things for productive people that is not deducing your intelligence at all. It seems though they are returning that route with Metro sadly.

      • Come on its not that hard to deduce that if you're commenting on /. that your intelligence level is . . .
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Couldn't agree more, "The system would then automatically adjust the search experience and results"; I don't want them to adjust search results based on my mood, I want the most relevant information relating to my query....no matter what kind of mood i'm in

      • by webnut77 (1326189)

        Speaking of moods: What if I'm in a foul mood and want to cheer myself up? If they try to match my mood, will they not be reenforcing it?

        Also, the audacity of guessing my intelligence. "You're too dumb to get all the search results. Here's want you can understand."

    • ...they treat us all like morons.

      Well, their idea now is to only treat some of us like morons. So it's an improvement.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        What I'm hoping for is a search site that limits results to technical content even if the term has some other meaning in popular culture, and more to the point, blocks all the pop culture crap that hurts my oversized brain. Once they find ways to block all the highly complex content from the non-techies, it shouldn't be all that hard to invert the limits....

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm waiting for the clippy that is tailored to someone who reads lol catz. "You can clikz teh helpz." "Teh green squiggiees mean haz bad gramma"

    • by kcwhitta (232438)

      And Google is *not* trying to "help" their customer? Google screws with search results all the time: it used to be much more geek-friendly than it is today. It thinks it knows what I want to search better than I do: thinking I make typos when I don't, and it includes search terms I don't want to include. Many of the geek customizations for advanced users that used to work are no longer available.

  • by Cyphase (907627) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @06:35PM (#39759077) Homepage

    You know Microsoft thinks your dumb if you search for "secret service prostitutes colombia" and the first result is "Escorts discretas colombianos a precios asequibles".

  • Listen up, Microserfs :

    What anyone wants is to quickly and easily find
    results.

    The idea that search results will be better suited to a person
    you do not even know because you insert some algorithm into
    the mix is just absurd. Sorry, but real life is not something which
    can be solved like some puzzle.

    Further, your little game will probably fuck up the chance that
    serendipity ( in the form of an illogical search return ) might
    cause happy results.

  • by Frans Faase (648933) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @06:36PM (#39759091) Homepage
    I understand that the results returned by Google are already customized to the user.
    • hmmm... what we need is a search engine that does no evil.

      • by u64 (1450711)

        hmmmm DuckDuckGo
        https://duckduckgo.com/ [duckduckgo.com]

        We can also make Google slightly less evil
        https ://encrypted.google.com/search?op=out&nfpr=1&pws=0&complete=0

        Bing however, lacks most url parameters, we must feed it cookies.
        Cookie: _FP=EM=2;_FS=NU=1;_SS=SID=7EE6E87CC0D54A94B00A781D9BBF8197;MUID=30548A3F32BF61880EE9890E33B861D6;SRCHD=MS=2229782;SRCHUID=V=2&GUID=4C8D14618CBF44278D9CEB1BEEF6D4F7;_HOP=;_UR=OMW=0;SRCHHPGUSR=ADLT=OFF&SRCHLANG=&AS=0
        My quick research so far...
        I use BrowserMasquerade ad

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Prior art!

  • if you are dealing with folks who choose Bing? (Jokes the guy who uses Bing powered DuckDuckGo)
  • by ArcadeNut (85398) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @06:50PM (#39759179) Homepage

    How about you just return the results that match what I typed in?

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @07:06PM (#39759249) Journal

    I really wish these search companies would go back to their roots and provide bare metal search results.
    Stop geo/mood/intelligence filtering the results for me.

    Especially the geographic results. If I want results for my location, I'll include it in the search.

    • I really wish these search companies would go back to their roots and provide bare metal search results.
      Stop geo/mood/intelligence filtering the results for me.

      Especially the geographic results. If I want results for my location, I'll include it in the search.

      Oh yes. This is something which really makes me mad sometimes, when a website/search engine/whatever makes ASSUMPTIONS based on my location (IP address). Listen, just because I am sitting in Germany, that does not automatically mean I *want* everything to be presented in a crappy German translation (I can understand your normal website with MORE content very well, ty very much), or that I want to see only stuff your German distributor has available. Maybe I want to look up stuff for some US product I bought

  • by Spacejock (727523) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @07:08PM (#39759265) Homepage
    So if a writer types 'How does someone publish there book?', Microsoft will send them to a spelling and grammar site instead of HarperCollins?
    • by ignavus (213578)

      So if a writer types 'How does someone publish there book?', Microsoft will send them to a spelling and grammar site instead of HarperCollins?

      No. Send them to Clippy! "I see you are trying to write 'their'. Would you like help with that?"

    • by julesh (229690)

      So if a writer types 'How does someone publish there book?', Microsoft will send them to a spelling and grammar site instead of HarperCollins?

      As long as it isn't PublishAmerica, we can all be happy. Perhaps they should be reserved for idiots with automatic weapons who are really pissed off with life.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @07:20PM (#39759325) Homepage

    "Can't find him on FaceBook. He must be stupid".

    -or-

    "Can't find him on FaceBook. He must be smart".

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @07:22PM (#39759333)

    Alta Vista did this back in the nineties. Virtually any result I found was exactly what I was in the mood for! Thanks to Google, now I have to type specific words in to get porn. Innovation, pbtbtbt.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)
      Well played, sir. If you'll pardon me, I need a towel and another drink.
    • My favorite thing about av was how I would get 20 pages of the exact same result. It was wonderful. I knew where they wanted me to go. And sometimes, it had nothing to do with what I was looking for. This was helpful, because I don't always want what I think I do. Now with google, and their unique results that are actually relevant to what I think I want, I feel like I have too many options.
  • by PessimysticRaven (1864010) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @07:48PM (#39759475)

    So, does that mean when I look at my Facebook Friends List, I'll start getting popups for Proazc, Paxil and Xanax?

  • Oh my! (Score:4, Funny)

    by lahvak (69490) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @07:48PM (#39759477) Homepage Journal

    "Honestly, professor, I searched for all these things that you told us to search for, but none of these links you are showing us ever came up!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 21, 2012 @07:54PM (#39759505)

    I worry that customizing *search*, or customizing computer-based mediation/filtering of objective reality (as will be possible through video glasses and earphones) -- especially if made somewhat automatic by corporate-defined models of how people behave -- will eventually cause people to be trapped by their own personal history of thoughts and beliefs.

    It's like people being attracted to Fox News or the Rush Limbaugh radio show because of whatever thoughts and beliefs they have at the time, and then forever finding comfort there because of a lack of competing/challenging input (partly because the opportunity for alternative input is crowded out by the activity of viewing/listening to their initial media channel of choice).

    We are all familiar with "helpful" automation making choices that go against our personal wishes (or, at best, are simply unhelpful). But search (and, soon, mediated reality for the masses) creates the scary possibility of people becoming very isolated and trapped by their own history of personal actions and implied "preferences".

    I've sometimes done web searches for things in which I had only incidental interest -- topics which might even offend me, but which I would like to learn about for the purposes of being informed -- and the search service has inferred that I am actually generally interested in those topics. Needless to say, the chance for automated systems drawing the wrong conclusions is very high.

    I've seen blogs and discussion forums with communities with wacky beliefs, and it's sad that the insanity doesn't get any constructive criticism because of "moderators" (ironic term here) deleting any challenging/opposing comments. In the same way, unwittingly or intentionally, a person might become immersed in their own world of information.

    I actually like the idea of modifying reality! I'd love to surround myself with challenging and encouraging avatars with virtual reality glasses and earphones, because I think having personal coaches and cheerleaders around me all the time (virtually) would be a supernatural boost. I don't know how to reconcile my attraction for that idea with my general concern about people experiencing detrimental self-delusion, except to say that I think that *automatic* guesses about "preferences" seems bad.

    Although people can benefit from their memories (e.g., education and work experience) and past actions (e.g., earning money, buying and accumulating things), I worry about mechanisms that TRAP people in to their own legacy of memories and actions. Things like credit scores, criminal records, Internet records, etc, can make it difficult for people to change direction and grow, and have a new phase in their lives. Given the increasing role of Internet search and mediated reality in the lives of ordinary people, a new, and profoundly influential, mental trap is being built around them. I'm not judging it, but for some people their avatar in the World of Warcraft MMORPG is as much an influence on their lives as real-world people; and, in the same way, I think web search and mediated reality will eventually become the dominant influences in the lives of many people. I think the widespread absorption of people with their smartphones (after the earlier phenomenon of "Crackberry" devices) is somewhat telling.

  • I think Google and Microsoft have it all wrong with bubbling users. I strongly believe that it's the job of the user to enter the proper queries so that he or she will receive the proper result. I don't want the engine to guess what I like or how I feel. Furthermore, search results are not about a popularity contest, I want relevant search results, not popular results. On that front, I feel like Google have given up, I find it increasingly hard to search for things that are the opposite of what's popular. (

    • by Shavano (2541114)

      Exactly!

      While they're at it they can patent a car with no steering wheel. Instead it senses your mood and intelligence and drives youwhere it guesses you want to go.

  • Clippy's back...

    "Hi, it looks like you're an idiot. Let me omit all search results that aren't TV or XBox related."

    • > Let me omit all search results that aren't TV or XBox related.

      Typical Clippy bungling. No sports scores.

  • by sjames (1099) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:29PM (#39759679) Homepage

    YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

  • Inferred interest? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Saturday April 21, 2012 @08:50PM (#39759795)

    In addition to skewing the search results to the user's inferred interests, the user-following engine may further tailor the search results to a user's comprehension level.

    <Samuel L. Jackson Voice>
    Dear Condescending Microsoft Motherfuckers. My motherfucking search interests are directly expressed by my motherfucking search query - that's why I fucking entered it. In addition, there are times I want to actually *learn* something, which necessitates results above my current motherfucking comprehension level.
    </Samuel L. Jackson Voice>

    Why can't search engines simply answer the questions as I ask and let *me* worry about asking better questions?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Bing: "So you're interested in intercourse; more specifically, intercourse with mothers?"

    • by houghi (78078)

      That is why I disable and remove all cookies from e.g. google when I close my browser. The disadvantage is that google is unable to see what the language of my browser is and keeps giving me the site in Dutch.

      My browser is in English, you morans! The fact that my IP is in a Dutch part of Belgium does not matter. Even then there will be people who speak another language and do indicate so by the language of the browser.

      I remove the cookies, so the search engine things I am new each and every time.

      • by busybox (635538)

        I believe you can set the language in the default-search-engine settings (in Chrome).

        I use bing as my default search engine. I use "setmkt=en-US" to get US english Bing results, even though bing knows that I am located near Frankfurt which it shows on top-right corner.

        This is my default search engine:: http://www.bing.com/search?setmkt=en-US&q=%25s [bing.com]

        Something similar should be possible for google as well.

  • Ever have one of those conversations where you're asking your wife/girlfriend (yeah, I know, this is slashdot) where she'd like to go for dinner, and she tells you what she thinks you want to hear. And you say OK because you think that's where she wants to go. You're both so busy trying to figure out what the other person wants that your ability to interact effectively breaks down completely... And you either end up still arguing about it on the couch an hour later or at some restaurant neither of you likes
    • by BenoitRen (998927)

      There's a reason the QWERTY layout is standard, despite its flaws - everyone knows where to expect the keys!!!

      My keyboard has an AZERTY layout, you insensitive clod!

  • It would be nice if Slashdot could tell us about actual products, not vague vaporware information inferred from patent fillings.
  • . . .Microsoft has finally caught up with Emacs [wikipedia.org].
    *sniff* They said Redmond could never do it *cough* but they were WRONG!
  • After reviewing the information a new approach was decided for future computer interfaces. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexigram [wikipedia.org]
  • To deduce your smarts? A moment while I clean my keyboard.

    Next thing you know, they'll stoop to Bing users.

  • "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to test a prototype software program designed to trap filthy Communists and Mutants inside a simulation of the life of a Red-level warehouse worker that Friend Computer has laboriously constructed. Unfortunately, the manual is marked Blue and cannot be accessed by a Red-level citizen such as yourself. Attempting to access the manual without clearance is Treason and punishable by termination. Friend Computer wishes you godspeed."
  • Why bother with net neutrality when search results can simply be skewed to a person's perceived intelligence or interests, based on some proprietary and probably secret algorithm? This is the perfect way to get around any net neutrality legislation. Beyond that, the idea thumbs its nose at the best feature of the internet: Expanding your mind. If the results are so tailored to what one already thinks, how intelligent the person supposedly is (like that can really be measured anyway) and one's current int
  • by Tom (822)

    Can all those "customized" search results please fuck off and leave me alone?

    I like getting results from outside my own bubble of reality, even from outside my comfort zone. It allows me to broaden my horizon and learn something new.

    And when I'm in a bad mood, the last thing I need is more depressing stuff. Frankly, that alone is a sufficient reason to never, ever, ever even consider using any search engine that MS is running.

  • There is no reason to assume that one search I do today is in any way related to any other search I have ever done. This is like the NSA's Total Information Awareness program. All it produced was constant false leads, they're still using it because information is like a drug, they're hooked. I have already tried Google's bad attempt at this and it just produces none sense results. Microsoft will just produce the Blue Screen of Confusion.
  • "I see you're depressed. Would you like to search for:
    • Poison?
    • Firearms?
    • Railroad crossings near your house?
    • Rope makers?"
  • "Do what I mean" is the worst possible response from a computer, "Do what I say" might be bad but it's better than any of the alternatives.

    That's why my Google links have a veritable alphabet soup attached to them... Google Search 1 [google.com] vs. Google search 2 [google.com]

    What I'd like is a nice simple dwiS flag that I can attach ... but, Of course if the first one doesn't work for you maybe Google has already decided you're too dumb...

  • If Bing figures out that you LIKE Fox News, they never include results from Snopes.com, or anything that leans away from fairies and bean stalks towards reality.

  • With absolutely zero social networking outside of these posts on slashdot, I'll love that feature if I can control it. But I've long been requesting the ability to filter search results based on the reputation of the source. Sometimes I'm searching the equivalent of "what would the general population think is the...", and wikipedia results are great. Other times, I need a real medical journal or newspaper result. And other times still I'm searching on behalf of a seven year old, and want the lowest leve

  • There are a lot of dumb people out there.Including intelligence in their search queries could cost Microsoft customers by sending more people toward Apple results.

  • Great, just what we need: search filtering based on somebody else's decision about what we need to see. Not too hard to see where this could be headed ...
  • The mood of Microsoft users? "Frustrated." Duh!

  • "A newly surfaced Microsoft patent application, reports GeekWire, describes a 'user-following engine' that analyzes your posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to deduce your mood, interests, and even your smarts".

    If Google did this it would be a gross invasion of our privacy ...
  • They'll decide I'm too stupid to be shown some results, with the resulting ignorance and limitation on my horizons sure to have the long term effect of keeping me in an ongoing bad mood, since I wont' be able to figure out how life actually works.....

    These people are fucking morons.

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