If you're looking for some seriously mind-blowing hard science fiction online this afternoon, look no further than a new (free online) short story, "Engineers' Dreams," by science historian George Dyson. Brother of techbiz genius Esther Dyson, George is known for his meticulous, entertaining historical investigations into secret government science projects of the twentieth century. Now he's turned his eyes to the twenty-first century, and has written a highly-informed and brainy tale of how Google could become the first true artificial intelligence. Read an excerpt below.

From the story:

When Ed examined the traffic, he realized that Google was doing more than mapping the digital universe. Google doesn't merely link or point to data. It moves data around. Data that are associated frequently by search requests are locally replicated-establishing physical proximity, in the real universe, that is manifested computationally as proximity in time. Google was more than a map. Google was becoming something else.


I've heard many webbish futurists speculate that A.I. is going to come from search algorithms and user-generated content, but this is the first time I've ever seen anybody explain it in a plausible way. Excellent read. Image via Modern Life is Rubbish.

Engineers' Dreams [Edge via BoingBoing]