Popular Mechanics had an interview with Google's vice president of search quality Udi Manber about web search. Here's a snip:
What do you think are the next coming challenges beyond what we’ve talked about?
I think one of them is a better understanding of queries and content, which is what we do all the time. If I were to point to one interesting feature that we launched recently—and unfortunately I can’t talk about coming features [since] we don’t pre-announce things—one feature we launched recently is something called CLIR. It stands for Cross Language Information Retrieval. Basically, what we do is take your query, translate it into another language, do the search in another language, translate the results back to your language so that gives you access to content in, I think, 12 different languages. So if you’re a user in Egypt, for example, and you only speak Arabic, you can write the query in Arabic, ask to translate it into English. When you then click on the results, it will translate the Web pages to Arabic for you—all of it done by Google translation. That opens the whole world to everybody. I see this as incredibly high potential.