"Google is evil!" or "Is Google evil?"

>> Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I suppose it's the context that really matters, but I came across two mentions of Google in the world recently.

The first was this video produced by ABC (Australia).

When it comes to privacy and the mentions of medical records and genetics, well, that's going a little too far for me.

The second was a blog post on Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish from last Friday entitled, "Google Is Making Me Stupid." Chris Bodenner reiterates points made by Nick Carr's Atlantic cover story, "Is Google Making Us Stupid," and survey results from the recent Pew study on the internet, The Future of the Internet IV. Obviously the study isn't solely about Google, but this statement did remind me of Google's privacy issues:

Anonymous online activity will be challenged, though a modest majority still think it will possible in 2020: There [is] more of a split verdict among the expert respondents about the fate on online anonymity. Some 55% agreed that Internet users will still be able to communicate anonymously, while 41% agreed that by 2020 “anonymous online activity is sharply curtailed."

Ironically, political dissidents in countries such as China and Iran are recommended to use Gmail due to its security. Go figure.

Back to the "evil" question regarding Google, I saw these two quotes in the Pew survey specifically regarding Google:
“Google will make us stupid and intelligent at the same time. In the future, we will live in a transparent 3D mobile media cloud that surrounds us everywhere. In this cloud, we will use intelligent machines, to whom we delegate both simple and complex tasks. Therefore, we will loose the skills we needed in the old days (e.g., reading paper maps while driving a car). But we will gain the skill to make better choices (e.g., knowing to choose the mortgage that is best for you instead of best for the bank). All in all, I think the gains outweigh the losses.” -- Marcel Bullinga, Dutch Futurist at futurecheck.com
“I think that certain tasks will be “offloaded” to Google or other Internet services rather than performed in the mind, especially remembering minor details. But really, that a role that paper has taken over many centuries: did Gutenberg make us stupid? On the other hand, the Internet is likely to be front-and-centre in any developments related to improvements in neuroscience and human cognition research.” – Dean Bubley, wireless industry consultant
Perhaps I watch too much sci-fi television, but I just read quotes that could easily be heard on Caprica, the new prequel series to Battlestar Galactica that documents the creation and rise of the Cylons. And, no, I'm not kidding on that one. All that online information constituting and creating online identities, "offloading" certain tasks to a computer, it's all right there in a tv series most people aren't watching.

Perhaps it's not the best clip to demonstrate the similarity, but it was the best one available.

The Google Monster...
(“Google Monster" by Asaf Hanuka)

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