Google in ten years

To celebrate their tenth birthday Google’s official blog has asked ten of its “top experts” what’s going to happen in the next ten years. I must admit that the results are mostly underwhelming, as if these top experts find it difficult to look beyond their next quarter’s results and imagine what could possibly happen in ten years’ time. Brief summaries of each response below, with my thoughts in italics.

The future of search (Marissa Mayer)

Looking at the future of search. Different ways to query search engines (send it a picture or speak to it). More personalisation and relevance to location. Results might depend on who you’re friends with, changing their relevance.

In this vision it still sounds like the data would be a similar structure to now. She doesn’t mention any of the attempts to create more structure sources of knowledge such as True Knowledge.

Ad perfect (Susan Wojcicki)

More relevant advertising.

Is that it!?

The social web: All about the small stuff (Joe Kraus)

Making friends and keeping up to date with friends will be much easier because social tools will be more integrated into the web.

There are many sites and services that would have illustrated his points well but they’re not mentioned. Presumably because they’re not owned by Google.

The future of online video (Chad Hurley)

“In ten years, we believe that online video broadcasting will be the most ubiquitous and accessible form of communication.” People will make more video and it will be easier to share and view, becoming more ubiquitous.

Sounds a bit like “more of the same”.

The intelligent cloud (Alfred Spector and Franz Och)

More and more of people’s data will be stored on remote computers, rather than their own laptops and other devices. There will be new kinds of sensors and other devices focused on interacting with this cloud of data. Computers will “get smarter, gleaning relationships between objects, nuances, intentions, meanings, and other deep conceptual information.”

The future of mobile (Andy Rubin)

More people will be publishing photos, emails, blog entries etc from more locations. “Phones” will be cleverer about doing stuff with all their sensors.

Nothing earth-shattering here: more people will have more phones that will do more things with their GPS sensors.

The democratisation of data (Hal Varian)

“Information that once was available to only a select few is now available to everyone. This is particularly true for small businesses.” Google will help small businesses access more data that was once only for larger corporations.

Is that it!? More of the same and just for businesses? What effects will this have on companies and economies? What about the impact of access to this data on individuals and activist organisations?

Building a future that’s clean and green (Bill Weihl)

Google is doing stuff to develop greener energy, investing over US$45 million so far in renewable technologies. But for the vision of a greener world to be successful the government will have to do a lot to make it economically viable.

Quite the rallying cry that: We can make a greener world (but only with tax credits)! There’s probably some good sentiment in there but it’s all a bit press release-y and cautious.

Wiping out the next smallpox (Dr Larry Brilliant)

We need to be able to spot emerging pandemics quickly to prevent them becoming global crises. Google has an initiative to improve this.

Well, good. What else can one say?

The next Internet (Vint Cerf)

Internet-connected electronic devices will be more ubiquitous and will talk to each other more. Normal devices — keys, glasses, bags, etc — could be RFID-labeled and your mobile will know where they are. Videos will have hyperlinks in them allowing users to find out more about products or ideas within them. Energy usage will be more easily monitored resulting in devices becoming more energy efficient. Results of scientific experiments will be automatically and openly blogged and logged.

While some of this is good some of it (“As you enter a hotel room, your mobile will be told its precise location including room number.”) makes me want to know what real world problems this kind of stuff is going to solve. As opposed to making life very slightly easier for the tiny percentage of people who travel a lot.

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