Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future?

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by The Code » Sat Nov 28, 2009 9:57 pm

orin stepanek wrote:
mark swain wrote:
The whole of time in my book is like a CD, you can go to any part of it. Just crack The Code.
You can record a point in time; via: photography, tape recording, CD, DVD, etc. Physically; Uh-uh! You can travel in time to the future though. It's called aging! 8)

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Your not saying what I say, is untrue. What is the ticking clock governed by? How many seconds has our sun left? How much can you fit into plank time? Is my hundred years of life, equal to one second else where? We had a lot of butterflies this year. I am fascinated by this subject.
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by astrolabe » Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:06 pm

Hello mark,

The cd analogy seems to lack the factor of choice at any point on the cd. Did you use a cd to mean that a life pattern for an individual is unalterable at any given stage? I think, if that were indeed the case, then taking a piece of that life (such as your physical self) and installing it at a different point would not possible. Your cd idea may be more like a person utilizing the phenomenon of memory coupled with a precognitive ability to look into the future. The idea does, however, bring up an interesting point. If some one could return to the past physically would they be able to view their own life or just someone elses? Another point is that I don't think time travel needs to be, nor should be, physical.
"Everything matters.....So may the facts be with you"-astrolabe

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by The Code » Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:17 pm

astrolabe wrote: The cd analogy seems to lack the factor of choice at any point on the cd. Did you use a cd to mean that a life pattern for an individual is unalterable at any given stage? I think, if that were indeed the case, then taking a piece of that life (such as your physical self) and installing it at a different point would not possible.
What is the bit you can not see, on the CD? The computer program? Is there a lot more to life/universe than we can see?
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by astrolabe » Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:21 am

Hello mark,
mark swain wrote:Is there a lot more to life/universe than we can see?
Of course.
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by Chris Peterson » Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:36 am

RJN wrote:It is difficult to rule out time travel on purely theoretical grounds.
Thus, it is reasonable to base your hypothesis on the assumption that time travel of some sort is possible. No need to worry about mechanisms, beyond perhaps pointing out that the minimum requirement is some system that allows computers in the past to be manipulated; there's no requirement that actual time travelers exist.
First, that AOL search page seemed like it might be a good place to search for an inadvertant display of future knowledge. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to work for me. Can anyone?
Do you have a Torrent app installed? If not, try this page for some other sites where the data is directly available.
I would like to try to keep this moving toward a concrete goal if possible -- that of publishing a journal paper. To do that we need to define a specific experiment or set of experiments that can be done, execute those experiments, and describe the results in a paper for all to read. The experiment I propose is to look for evidence of pre-knowledge in search engine data bases.
I'd start by considering who our hypothetical time travelers might be, and what they would be looking for. Assuming they come from a society not radically different from our own, the most likely possibilities would be (1) some sort of government sponsored agents- military or civilian scientists analogous to NASA, or (2) some sort of academics- university researchers or graduate students. I doubt that any of these will be much interested in checking science data (such as the supernova question). Their science will pretty obviously be a superset of our own, and the history of modern science tends to be very well documented. Given this time travel technology, I think it will be the historians who would have the greatest motivation to use it. There are all these big historical questions that continue to fascinate people: was Tutankhamun murdered, was there a real Jesus, did Roosevelt know about the attack on Pearl Harbor before it happened, was there a conspiracy to kill JFK?

I'd design the experiment by coming up with one or two major recent events that are likely to be of long lasting historical interest, and which have left significant unanswered questions (the earlier examples would be studied using something other than the Internet, of course). Let's take as an example the 9/11 terrorist acts. A future researcher with time travel technology might look for evidence of the terrorists in the U.S. before the attacks, using Internet search tools. You would look for a statistically significant increase in search activity based on carefully identified terms (WTC, fire escapes, commercial pilot schools, etc). You'd also need a good control- something of historical interest but with no mystery associated with it. You would need to secure access to search logs (I'd think Google would be best) providing somewhat more information than is available through the usual interface. At a minimum, you'd need search terms and dates, since you would only be interested in searches conducted before 9/11/2001.

To summarize the experiment design:
(1) Identify a recent (post-Internet) event likely to be of long term historical interest, and for which many questions remain unanswered.
(2) Identify a recent event likely to be of long term historical interest, but not likely to be a subject of future research (the control event).
(3) Identify likely key words and phrases for both events that would likely be used before the events to study their precursors.
(4) Examine the logs of one or more major search engines for a statistically interesting increase in the use of these key words occurring before each event.
Chris

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by BMAONE23 » Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:39 pm

But would that be uncovering the existance of prior knowledge that the event would occur (time traveler looking for its occurance) or the existance of those that brought about it's occurance (conspiratous communications)?

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by Chris Peterson » Sun Nov 29, 2009 5:47 pm

BMAONE23 wrote:But would that be uncovering the existance of prior knowledge that the event would occur (time traveler looking for its occurance) or the existance of those that brought about it's occurance (conspiratous communications)?
That would need to be considered in analyzing the data.
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by RJN » Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:54 pm

Good thinking, everyone. I like the concreteness of Chris' experimental design. I think we should try to implement that.

If so, then we need to find some simple phrases relating to events of historical importance during the past few years. These phrases need to be unusual enough so that normally they would rarely, if ever, be searched for prior to the event they describe. Here are two possible candidates: "twin towers collapse", "President Obama signed". These are better than "twin towers" and "Obama signed" since the later two would find lots of unrelated queries. Any other ideas?

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by The Code » Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:12 pm

The lost book of ------- -----------. Should i bring myself to speak his name. Was he a time traveler?

http://www.mendhak.com/40-the-lost-book ... damus.aspx

Mark
Last edited by The Code on Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by astrolabe » Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:30 pm

ahem,

"President Bush Pukes in Japan".
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by astrolabe » Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:56 pm

Hello All,

All the time machine needs to do is travel to the past not the future, because once a time traveler steps into the past then his future world becomes his past also. If he stays here a long while or for only a few moments his future recedes further and further into his personal history; so all one really needs is a one way machine: It goes back and, when one is ready, it goes back again to the moment of one's arrival so a return trip can occur. The result is very interesting---it translates into no footprints, no sightings, no evidence whatsoever, not a single byte of evidence on search engines either. We all will loop with the traveler and won't know a thing. A good exercise might be to determine, having left one's future world, is one only gone for a blink of an eye or for the same amount of time as spent in the past. If time flows the same for both then some very careful calculations and precice adjustments in the settings on the machine would have to be made, otherwise his/her return will over- or undershoot the time frame...the traveler won't appear...and no one will learn anything!
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by Chris Peterson » Sun Nov 29, 2009 9:45 pm

astrolabe wrote:All the time machine needs to do is travel to the past not the future, because once a time traveler steps into the past then his future world becomes his past also. If he stays here a long while or for only a few moments his future recedes further and further into his personal history; so all one really needs is a one way machine: It goes back and, when one is ready, it goes back again to the moment of one's arrival so a return trip can occur. The result is very interesting---it translates into no footprints, no sightings, no evidence whatsoever, not a single byte of evidence on search engines either. We all will loop with the traveler and won't know a thing.
If you allow time travel, there are many possibilities like this one. However, the proposed experiment is predicated on the assumption that a future visitor who modifies his past by interacting with the Internet will leave potentially detectable traces. So we can exclude time travel mechanisms that don't. In fact, we can exclude any discussion of time travel mechanisms, as they aren't relevant to the experiment.
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by astrolabe » Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:31 pm

Hello Chris,

You are correct. Besides I noticed a fiarly sizable flaw in my "perfect" scenario. Glad it was me. In any event, it would be an extremely interesting hunt.
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by RJN » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:23 pm

Candidate search terms:

"Michael Jackson's death"

The idea is that pop stars are actually quite international in their fame and might be of interest to future historians. For example Elvis Presley still maintains popularity. The problem with this search term is that it would also catch people speculating about when Michael Jackson might die for years before his actual death, or even previous untrue rumors of his death. So perhaps a search term centering on MJ's death could be better engineered. Any suggestions?

"Comet McNaught"

One good thing about newly discovered, non-periodic comets is that they have never been seen before, so that pre-knowledge of their names should be non-existent. One problem, though, is that their discoverer(s) might have found a comet before. And, in fact, Comet McNaught-Russell was discovered in 1993. Still, this search term might be a good one if one is careful to exclude the "Russell". This comet in particular was very bright, easily visible to the unaided eye particularly in the southern hemisphere, and well known around the world. In fact, Comet McNaught was the brightest comet, so far, in the Internet era. Futurists might be interested in finding amateur data on it to better refine its properties and orbit.

Anyone else have a good search term?

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by rstevenson » Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:20 pm

"Memes" might be of considerable interest to future historians wondering just when a particular idea got started. For example, Obama has only recently begun to be referred to as a "war president", so a search for "Obama war-president" say, six months ago, might be an indicator of fore-knowledge.

Rob

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by RJN » Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:17 pm

Does anyone know details about how Google Trends works? The site is here: http://www.google.com/trends
The site seems to be able to give the popularity of search terms, but the "y axis" is not labeled. Can it delineate a single search?

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by geckzilla » Tue Dec 01, 2009 8:54 pm

I'm not sure if this will answer your question but there is a link at the bottom labeled "help" that goes to this page.
http://www.google.com/intl/en/trends/about.html

There's also a discussion group link to the left on that help page.
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by makc » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:31 am

@rjn some relevant and not-so-useless research is going on here.

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by bystander » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:41 am

makc wrote:@geckzilla love saturn banner <3
Ditto, much better than the default :!: But where's our favicon :?:

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by apodman » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:12 am

bystander wrote:But where's our favicon?
It's been showing up in my browser for hours now. Perhaps next time you start your browser it will seek and find it too. I use Firefox.

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by apodman » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:34 am

I've been following everyone's profiles of time travelers and I'm not sure I agree with everything I've read; I just haven't had time to try to make my thesis succinct and coherent if I even have one, so I've held back so far. But while I'm here posting, try these unvetted ideas:

1. Reportedly more than one organization is making copies for posterity of everything that resides on the www or crosses the internet. Kind of a "no byte shall ever perish" policy. So unless and until someone destroys all the archives we're building, future researchers would have no need to travel back in time to run an internet search; they will be able to do it from where and when they are.

2. I think we are best off, experimentally speaking, if we make no assumptions about the profession, education, mission, purpose, side agenda, background, or interests of the proposed time travelers. Ask what a generic traveler in the past might want to know. Ask about major disasters and weather events. Ask what the Y3K version of the IPOD is, and that's what they'll be searching for in online stores a thousand years too early. You'll know the future product name because it won't be a presently known word (or maybe it will be a presently known word with unfamiliar usage); it should be an interesting exercise to devise a behind-the-search-engine search for an unknown search term that meets a given specification.

---

Let me get a little more specific about the IPOD. I was referring to a hot product, not necessarily to a portable music player. But let's look at such a device as an example. A traveler from the near future might search for "[unknown] MP3 player" before it hits the market, whereas a traveler from the far future after MP3s have gone to meet the 8-tracks might search for "[unknown] portable listening device", "[unknown] music player", or "[unknown] headphones". Do a behind-the-search-engine search for unknown or out-of-place words appearing in submitted search strings that include the phrases above and see what pops up. You can also separate your targeted time travelers by era by the phrase they use.

---

What we may be doing here is writing the handbook for time travelers who want to leave no tracks. The Time-Traveler's Guide To The Internet. A bit rip-offish, but a promising title. I can see the publishers lining up already.
Last edited by apodman on Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by Chris Peterson » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:39 am

apodman wrote:1. Reportedly more than one organization is making copies for posterity of everything that resides on the www or crosses the internet. Kind of a "no byte shall ever perish" policy. So unless and until someone destroys all the archives we're building, future researchers would have no need to travel back in time to run an internet search; they will be able to do it from where and when they are.
I think you are missing the point of the experiment. The assumption is that future researchers would use the Internet to understand the situation leading up to some historically interesting event. In order to do that, they would need to query search engines before the event. It would not be sufficient to later analyze queries that were stored, because they wouldn't be the relevant queries.
2. I think we are best off, experimentally speaking, if we make no assumptions about the profession, education, mission, purpose, side agenda, background, or interests of the proposed time travelers.
The advantage of making an assumption about motive is that it dramatically narrows the focus of the search.
Let me get a little more specific about the IPOD. I was referring to a hot product, not necessarily to a portable music player. But let's look at such a device as an example. A traveler from the near future might search for "[unknown] MP3 player" before it hits the market...
The problem I see is that such a search is unlikely because interest seems unlikely. I think we can assume that time travel would be expensive, risky, and highly controlled. If everybody looking for old MP3s can hop into the family time machine, we'd probably know about it. So I'd assume that any research would be carefully planned, designed to leave a minimal footprint, and focused on historically important matters. I don't think we're looking for mistakes (like mentioning a product name before it exists); I think we're looking for statistical evidence in the queries suggesting foreknowledge of some event. It's a form of traffic analysis, not a simple keyword search.
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by apodman » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:00 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:It would not be sufficient to later analyze queries
Searching the internet live in 2009 is equivalent to searching a copy of the 2009 internet in 3009.
Chris Peterson wrote:The advantage of making an assumption about motive is that it dramatically narrows the focus of the search.
Would a wider net not catch more fish?
Chris Peterson wrote:everybody looking for old MP3s
Looking for MP3s is not their mission. It's their personal life. Still evidence. Same as if they folded their hot dog wrappers in a futuristic style before placing them in public waste receptacles or queried the hot dog vendor for a condiment that has not yet hit the market. If you plot Google's growth rate, you will see that verbal requests to street vendors will be included in their analysis by December 22, 2012.

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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by Chris Peterson » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:17 pm

apodman wrote:
Chris Peterson wrote:It would not be sufficient to later analyze queries
Searching the internet live in 2009 is equivalent to searching a copy of the 2009 internet in 3009.
What is the "Internet"? What's being archived is mainly web pages, and that on a schedule. But the modern web is very dynamic, with content changing by the minute (and with search engines increasingly able to deal with that). Realistically, there is no way to archive the state of the "Internet" at anything like the resolution required to have a future copy that you can treat the same as the original.
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Re: BITOD: Can Search Engines Find Inquiries from the Future

Post by RJN » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:41 pm

It is my hope that discussions like these are exactly the types of discussions that a real paper will further inspire. Suppose someone asked you "How do you know that people from the future are not among us?" Theoretical arguments might sound persuasive here and there, but what experimental evidence exists? Besides noting the lack of a universe-changing catastrophe, no systematic search has ever been done, to the best of my knowledge. Until now. Please help me create the first.

Unfortunately, to recap, we can only attempt to answer a simpler question: "How to we know that knowledge of the future does not exist among us?" and really even a far simpler one "How do we know that knowledge of the future has not been entered into present day search engines?" Still, in my view, this is better than nothing, and could inspire more interesting debates.

The two search terms that seem to be leading, just now, are "twin towers collapse" and "Comet McNaught". I will look into searching the APOD log files for "pre-knowledge" searches of these terms. Would someone like to volunteer to check out the AOL search results mentioned above? And someone else check out Google Trends? If so, please report here that you will be looking into doing those searches. Also, please report results back to this board. I would expect negative results, but even so please report on precisely what was searched and when.

- RJN