Wednesday, September 2

NetBase launches healthBase: Another flawed "semantic" search engine

Today Netbase announced a new semantic health search engine: HealthBase. There is coverage on SELand. From their release,
healthBase is the first example of Content Intelligence that is open and available to the public. The showcase uses Content Intelligence technology to automatically find treatments for any health condition or disease; pros and cons of any treatment, medication and food, and more. Like all NetBase-powered applications, healthBase enables users to get summarized answers and insights automatically from millions of online sources.
Here are my first reactions using the engine. I first tried running related injuries that I've experienced and researched previously. First up is [pulled hamstring] which returns only one poor result. The query for [shin splints] returned better, mostly good results.

I also tried a few queries that are popular currently:
The [swine flu] results aren't bad, with results on the vaccine and antiviral medications. Next, I tried a "pros and cons of treament" query for [acai berry], a controversial natural health supplement. The acai berry results are disappointing with little reliable information, for example one "pro" result is "Offer Free Trial"!! from acaiberrymd.com. The engine also showed other flaws in its understanding technology by misclassifying "caused human cancer cells to self-destruct" as a con. Sigh.

A more structured presentation of results is a step in the right direction. There are few details on how or why their semantic technologies work (or don't as the case sometimes appears).

Overall healthBase is not a compelling offering right now.

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