Where Google can't take us

In the spring of 1992 when I wrote the series of essays below, titled Freedom beyond words, much of what it talks about were barely known: wireless Internet, handheld multimedia devices, robotic Web search agents, Web-based software services, cloud computing, telecommuting from remote exurbs outside cities, and even the Web itself.

I argued that search engines would ultimately become irrelevant, as the digital flood that they unleash eventually overwhelms the capacity of symbol-based computation.

I also wrote that a digitally networked society will eventually choke on its own data, unless it develops self-evolving, non-symbol-based technology.

The limitation lies in the nature of language itself, and cannot be overcome by using faster programmable computers or more powerful search algorithms. In the same way, the complexity of subject matter will exceed the communicative capacity of language itself.

Finally, I explored the role that a future non-symbol-based technology could eventually play in helping reach across that barrier.

Michael Webb

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