An interesting piece was published a few days ago on the official google blog: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/future-of-search.html
Let me quote two passages:
It would be much nicer if we had a device with great connectivity that could do searches without interruption. One far-fetched idea: how about a wearable device that does searches in the background based on the words it picks up from conversations, and then flashes relevant facts?
So what’s our straightforward definition of the ideal search engine? Your best friend with instant access to all the world’s facts and a photographic memory of everything you’ve seen and know.
The first idea is (to me) scary as hell. Do I really want the electronic equivalent of the know-it-all friend that is constantly ‘flashing’ information, little pieces of knowledge when I try to follow the stream of my thoughts or a conversation with a friend ? No thanks, I’d rather be alone and do the search later on (and only on things that I really care about).
I already feel like too much data is around us. This is like calling for information overload, and the risk is that you won’t be able to gather your own thinking, your own ideas, because somebody else in the world has already done that. Well that’s certainly true but then you would become a data collector, or a data linker. A man needs to reinvent the wheel every now and again, otherwise he loses the perception of his inner mental strength, or the ability to think for himself.
The second quotation then: it sounds like the official definition of search engine according to google. Don’t you think that it looks very similar to the idea of the superentity that is present in so many science fiction tales ? The superentity that invariably decides to go against humanity (other scenario: tries to help the humanity in its own distorted way, like for example exterminating 99% of the population leaving only the genetically advanced alive) ?