Full disclosure: I work on the Search team at Google. This post is purely a piece of my opinion and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of my employer.
I think the idea of specialized search is an interesting one. It gets to be a bit tricky when you deal with queries that are inherently cross-domain. In a more perfect world, I’d love to see something like the Semantic Web, but what I suspect will happen is machine learning will act as a retrofit or shim to the plaintext web and as a necessary bridge to a multimedia web.
Extending from that, I would love to see on-device machine intelligence systems that understand query intents, scrape the web, and parse results for human consumption.
Remember when the web was first starting to grow and you found results because other people would share links on message boards? Or people would start up linking circles to share traffic with each other? Farther back still, do you remember talking to a librarian about a research topic and getting help from them? I can see intelligence systems replicating and replacing this, ideally with more democratized indices as starting points. Instead of guessing at keywords, being able to say, “I’m getting a new pet python and would like to know about their nesting requirements.” The system would disambiguate Python (the programming language) from python (the animal), decide that it needed evergreen information (i.e., recency is not as important), search from a few good starting points or guesses, read into those, find additional references from that, do the research for you, and summarize the results. Perhaps if it’s smart enough it could recognize changes in litigation (a very different topic domain) and say, “Be careful, due to recent changes in public policy, python ownership is now restricted where you live. If you want to build a container for a python, though, you can consider these pages and these excerpts.”
It’s a future I’d really like to see. Benevolent AI with a democratized, decentralized web. Maybe that’s a pipe dream, but maybe we can get there if we’re careful with our choices as consumers, diligent with our politics, and lucky.