The Google Answering Machine

Interesting piece of speculation in this Time article that appeared in the last hour:

To maintain its lead over Yahoo, Ask.com, Microsoft and others, Google will soon have to start harvesting the fruits of its sizable investment in search research. Search engines aren’t yet equipped to furnish anything other than simple facts or links to relevant pages, but searchers will soon expect engines to answer complex questions that will require Google and others­ to gather data from multiple sites.

Probably just conjecture, rather than insider info, however Google, and others, are integrating a lot more data into search results. At present, we get the occasional factoid, but who is to say there won’t be more and more direct answering of questions within the serps?

And how will that affect the delicate search engine/publisher relationship?

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