Google CEO Eric Schmidt is on record wondering how YouTube will make money for Google. I doubt that the elections video search gadget unveiled today is the immediate answer, but it offers an intriguingly possible answer.
Google's speech experts from the company's research center came up with the gadget. Here's how it works:
Videos from YouTube's Politicians channels are automatically transcribed from speech to text and indexed. Using the gadget, you can search not only the titles and descriptions of the videos, but also their spoken content. Additionally, since speech recognition tells us exactly when words are spoken in the video, you can jump right to the most relevant parts of the videos you find.
The catch is that the gadget can search only videos people upload to YouTube's Politicians channels. It's a good start, though. I'm waiting for Google to expand this beyond the proof-of-concept stage.
This is hard stuff, and Google acknowledges that a lot of work remains in refining algorithms and making sure that the transcriptions are accurate. But if Google can do this with political videos on YouTube, there's not much to prevent the indexing of all the videos found in its expansive library. If Google's able to incorporate the technology into desktop search, that would be hugely attractive.
In the meantime, suffice it to say that Google has developed what's likely to be remembered as the most scorned technology on Capitol Hill. And for good reason: we'll be able to catch the lying bastards who claim that they never said what they really said.