Imagine if you will a distant future where man and technology are fused in a marriage of carbon, silicon, and photons so seamlessly and integrally that the distinction between organic and inorganic has no meaning. We cannot currently separate our iron from our blood or calcium from our skeletal system and continue to contemplate our existence. It is not too hard to imagine a distant time when man has so integrated his essence with that of emerging technologies as to be unable to function let alone exist in a future where thought is stored and shared in a globally interconnected network of ideas. In this possible timeline, the man without the connection to humanity’s shared super-ego becomes nothing more than a savage beast as he cannot begin to think at the speed or capacity of his would be contemporaries. It may be that the concept of self becomes vague, with each “man” merely a node capable of independent query, but always with the result of furthering the shared knowledge space of the greater whole.
Imagine further that on his path towards this fantastic future, man’s archival of the processes and paths that are leading him towards these ends become corrupt, altered, or lost. Perhaps there are great ideological or religious uprisings against the perceived unification of man and machine that see opposing zealots effectively “burning the libraries” that contain what will be required by future archeologists to reconstruct an accurate picture of man’s evolution into an infovore. It has happened before that we have lost parts of our history.
What happens if the holes in our history would have explained to Homo Indicium what he needed to know regarding the origins and evolution of informational search algorithms into educational search engines into commercial search engines into semantic search agents into online semantic human search agents into the symbiotic extension of self that will eventually complement Homo Sapiens as he evolves into the information creature he will become?
Will the inquisitive spirit of Charles Darwin carry forward with man as he evolves? Will future man look back at the records of deletion and wonder how it is that he has come to become so much more than his ancestors who, through lack of access to the same information pool, killed each other out of fear and misunderstanding? Will any unit in this global mind initiate the queries that will piece together from the few remaining bits of undeleted data the early days of man and semantic search before they became inextricably interwoven?
While these imaginings have all the trappings of science-fiction, it should be pointed out that no one believed we would ever visit the moon when Jules Verne pondered this for the first time, or that machines would ever evolve to the point of contemplative self awareness when Issac Asimov posed “The Last Question”.
Imagining the future as laid out heretofore, it will serve us well now to see how search technology has rapidly risen from humble beginnings to the algorithmic complexities of today and predict on a shorter scale the very possible next stages of search evolution. With this clear view of the past, present, and immediate future, we can better see into the fog surrounding the many possible exciting futures.