Q: What changes will there be in search results pages over the next 3 years?
Jakob Nielsen: The big thing that has happened in the last 10 years was a change from an information retrieval oriented relevance ranking to being more of a popularity relevance ranking. And I think we can see a change maybe being a more of a usefulness relevance ranking. I think there is a tendency now for a lot of not very useful results to be dredged up that happen to be very popular, like Wikipedia and various blogs. They’re not going to be very useful or substantial to people who are trying to solve problems. So I think that with counting links and all of that, there may be a change and we may go into a more behavioral judgment as to which sites actually solve people’s problems, and they will tend to be more highly ranked.
Interview with Jakob Nielsen: Future of the SERP
This is one place where SE need to make drastic changes. I don't see any indication of things happening quickly but this is one of the current technology's weak spots.
As mentioned in the article columnar presentation of search results may improve the situation. Users will continue to scan results, with the majority of users giving higher relevance to top ranked returns, BUT if paid searches and content aggregated sites such as Wikipedia can be sorted out from other returns it would be a useful incremental change.
Will Google make such a change? Only if they see a ROI. Until a competitor forces them to do so I doubt we will see much of a change in the short run.