'Star Trek' computer inspires future of Google search

Google's senior vice president of search was much more interested in talking about the sci-fi operating system than algorithms at South by Southwest.

AUSTIN, Texas--At Google, the future of search looks an awful lot like something out of one of the iconic science fiction franchises of the past.

At least that's the impression given by Google's Amit Singhal when he was interviewed on-stage by Guy Kawasaki at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin recently.

No matter how much Kawasaki prodded Singhal for insights into the inner workings of Google's algorithms, the senior vice president of search seemed far more interested in talking about his apparent obsession with the computer from "Star Trek."

"For those of you who have never watched an episode of 'Star Trek,' please go do that," Singhal implored the audience at one point.

For the purposes of enlightening the presumably rare Crave reader who is in that group of Trek virgins, the computer on board the USS Enterprise has some very advanced natural language algorithms. It is able to understand and respond to requests in a conversational manner; it also provides important information to the crew unprompted.

Singhal said this is basically what his company is aiming for with Google Now, which pushes information like weather, traffic, and sports scores to users.

What Singhal envisions for the future of search is a world where we are all connected to that Star Trek computer all the time:

"It is everywhere; you can use it in any modality," which includes more convenient methods for ways to do a mobile search at moments when you can or can't talk out loud.

There was no talk of hard-wiring Google to our nervous systems to address this problem just yet, but the Google Now approach clearly is part of the solution as Singhal sees it.

When it does become time to connect our neurons to the great Google in the clouds, I'm sure my Nexus 7 will be the first to tell me.

Featured Video