If Ask dismantled its Teoma engine, would Ask still be Ask? The simple answer to this existential question is no.
The Ask search is based on the concept of expert opinion, and there are many refinement options shown in the interface based on clustered or categorized results.
So if Teoma were shut down, we think the ability to narrow or expand searches would likely disappear -- as shown in the chocolate options here.
On the other hand, it's possible to port these algorithms elsewhere if there's enough time for Ask engineers to prepare transitions. That means these search refinements could be layered on top of a different engine, albeit slowing down the response time.
According to PaidContent, the ad deal between Google and Ask includes "a clause allowing Google to engage more deeply with Ask's algorithmic search." If the algorithms from Joisey were connected inside of Google, then these functionalities live on.
Not sure what's planned here, but we can't take the user-interface for granted with a simple plug-in.