You may notice a new feature called "Suggest" when you use Google this week — the search engine will now suggest possible searches you might want to do. So, for example, if you type something like "Invasion of . . . " into the Google search bar, Google will helpfully suggest things like "invasion of privacy" or "invasion of Georgia." The search engine's anticipation of what you want may feel like a crude form of A.I., but it can't figure out truly important things, such as the fact that you were actually searching for "Invasion of the Booby Snatchers." Still, these kinds of search features are making it obvious that A.I. will probably emerge out of services like Google Search that aggregate data and make inferences based on it.In fact, that's the premise of a trilogy that Robert "Humanoids" Sawyer is working on right now. Like a lot of scifi authors and futurists, Sawyer thinks it's plausible that the web itself might become a conscious entity. (This isn't a new idea: It was the basis for William Gibson's early-80s novel Neuromancer.) So how does Google Suggest work? To return to my earlier example about the Booby Snatchers, you'll find that Google isn't mining your personal search history to make suggestions — it combs through popular searches from millions of people and guesses what you want based on what kinds of searches it sees the most often. Because far more people search on "invasion of Georgia" than "Invasion of the Booby Snatchers," you'll get the former suggestion. According to the New York Times:

Google Suggest does not base its suggestions on the personal searches of users, although it does use information about the relative popularity of common searches to rank its suggestions, Google noted. Google Suggest searches are covered under Google's privacy policy, the company added.

So that means our first A.I. will have consciousness-by-popular-demand. It will make all its decisions based on what the majority of people would do. That's what frightens me. Google Rolls Out Tool [NY Times]