A lot of companies are invoking Star Trek these days, from Makerbot's Replicator to the Tricorder Project, but Google seems to have taken it one step further. In Slate, Farhad Manjoo delves into Mountain View's preoccupation with the omniscient, disembodied on-board computer that's been a Trek hallmark since the '60s. Apparently Google has adopted the computer as an ideal of human-computer interaction for Search. So far, the result is an increased emphasis on speech recognition and machine understanding — the skills a computer would need to carry on a conversation — as a way of expanding what a search engine can do. It's a striking example of pop culture influencing modern tech, and good context for whatever's unveiled at Google's upcoming I/O conference in May.