John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

New From Google Labs: Google Prosthetic Brain

ericschmidt_fancyhandsIf it has become clichéd to compare Google’s efforts to organize the world’s information and Big Brother’s efforts to control it, blame Eric Schmidt. The Google CEO is evidently on a one-man crusade to make it a truism. Discussing the company’s ambitions in the search business, where it now holds a de facto monopoly, Schmidt said the next frontier is to provide us with information that we didn’t know we wanted to know.

“We’re trying to figure out what the future of search is,” he told The Wall Street Journal. “One idea is that more and more searches are done on your behalf without you needing to type….I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions….They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.”

Or, more likely, Google wants them to want that. But that’s really beside the point, because either way, Schmidt’s remark is unsettling. After all, highly relevant search that wholly transcends human agency is really possible only if Google knows most everything about us. Which is a frightening idea.

But not nearly as frightening as the company’s belief that that’s what most of us want–our detailed online profile employed by an algorithm to tell us what to do.

But not to worry–if Google (GOOG) steers us into some bad choices that threaten to dog us forever online, Schmidt favors the option to change identities. From the WSJ:

He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites….”I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he says….”I mean we really have to think about these things as a society.”