Google’s new strategy for search is to provide you with answers, not just links, said the company’s executive charmain Eric Schmidt in an interview with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher at the D9 conference today.

“We can literally compute the right answer,” said Schmidt, referencing advances in artificial intelligence technology.

Instead of looking for links, he said, we’re at a point in technology where many answers to search queries can be computed, rather than simply returning a list of links from an index.

While social information serves to expand Google’s huge wealth of information about both the things you’re looking for and details about yourself, he says that even users without a stored browsing history and social data made available to Google can be adequately served by this approach. Location information provided by your IP address is one such signal that makes up for the absence of others, said Schmidt.

While the statement is a fairly vague reference to strategy shifts inside the company that aren’t completely visible on the outside yet, Google’s efforts to include more social data in search results is certainly a part of this.

The statement was made in response to Mossberg’s concerns about search result ‘pollution’ when using Google.

Most of the interview, incomplete at the time of this writing, discusses things we’ve already seen, such as Google Wallet, or has Schmidt comparing Google to their competitors — particularly in the mobile space. But it’s this vague statement that has me wondering about the future of search and how Google will reconcile this shift in strategy with search in its existing form. And, of course, what the implications for online publishers will be.

You can read the live blog of the interview at All Things D.