Chris Hemphill over at Pronet Advertising put up a post titled Mahalo will compete with search giants and vertical search. It's an intriguing post because it points out that human edited search results do have some advantages. Jason Calcanis was quoted as saying:
Now, we're in alpha so there are only 6,000+ pages right now, but if you compare our pages (when we have one) to any other machine search engine we will win hands down.
I do agree with that this does offer some real advantages. The only issue I see is that I don't understand how this can scale to cover the true complexity of web search, which is measured in billions of pages. As noted by Udi Manber at the recent announcement of Universal Search by Google, 20 to 25% of the queries they receive every day are being seen by Google for the first time.
Essentially, human nature and the nature of language allows for an infinite number of possibilities in terms of search queries. So, even as Mahalo scales up to hundreds of thousands of pages, or even millions of pages, it will still fall far short of the complexity of the total search problem. I don't think that users are going to want to guess when one search engine has a better result than another. But, time will tell us.