Ian Hardy wrote an interesting article entitled, the search engines of the future, where he said that the search engines of the future will incorporate advanced semantic search, voice search and make better “connections,” as in connecting-the-dots, seeing patterns and recognizing context in all its forms.
It’s a quick read, so Mr. Hardy doesn’t have the space to devote to further clarifying what the future holds for search engines. I think, though, the future is pretty easy to foresee. A harder question is, what are the precursor technologies that will be essential for the future of search?
The computer — your computer — is a tool that consolidates your access to the information universe. I see that computer evolving to become your “partner” or “colleague,” who knows how to communicate with you, and knows all about you, your interests, your issues and your needs. It understands the context of you and what you’re after. If you’re looking for flights to Chicago, it knows the difference between needing flights for tomorrow (preference on availability) versus needing flights 6 months for now (preference on price or convenience). It knows what airline you prefer, what airports you prefer and your frequent flier id.
If you do online research for work, your computer automatically knows that your request of political information is personal in nature (preference on summaries) versus research regarding your professional interests (preference on new, detailed, relevant material). Your computer — your partner — would also know when you might want to be notified of some new information or event, that you didn’t otherwise proactively request.
In essence, your computer — using search technologies — will eventually become your second pair of eyes and ears.
What technologies will make this possible? Obviously, smarter computer intelligence, especially as it relates to decoding speech (in all flavors of dialects and languages), understanding the nuances of contextual communications with humans, better relevance and ranking between disparate sets of information, and complex pattern recognition.
From the search engine perspective, they will get smarter with greater access to information. One can imagine bing, Google or Yahoo possessing pentabytes of information in their indexes.
I think federated search technology — and the deep web — will become center stage in the future, as no one search engine will be able to possess all the world’s data, knowledge, information, wisdom, transactions, products and services, no matter how public or private, secure or insecure, timeless or transitory.
Federated search technology is the glue that enables the smarter computers of tomorrow to create the search engines of the future.