On the 4th October, Google held it’s Made By Google hardware launch event.
Google has well and truly moved from software and into hardware. Actually, Google has been in the hardware field for a while, including developing drones, driverless cars and other new tech.
If you are online, it’s nigh on impossible that you haven’t used a Google product over the last few years.
Here’s my very quick round of up these:
Desktop search, Email, Mobile search, Apps, Maps, the office product suite (sheets, docs etc), the new Trips App, Drive storage, Photos, AR.. the list goes on.
As Sundar Pichai, CEO said at the Made By Google event, Google can now provide you with everything you need to run your life.
So, is that a cause for celebration or time to strike (if you hadn’t already) a note of caution?
A cleary cautionary tone is taken in an article by Natasha Lomas, TechCrunch that covered the launch event.
Lomas asserts that now that Google has really entered the Internet of Things / Connected Home arena, we are close to being are surrounded by a Big Brother-esque, ‘all seeing eye’. HAL 9000 is in your home.
As the article says:
“Computing continues to accelerate away from static desktops and (mobile) screens, coalescing into a cloud of connected devices with the potential to generate far more data — and data of a far more intimate nature — than ever before.”
The points raised are important ones for all of us.
The comments below the article itself are as interesting as the opinion piece that generated them. They range from general agreement that the AI overlords are coming, through to ‘cheer up, what’s loss of personal privacy and freedom from highly targeted ads, when I can get great film recommendations?’.
It’s the issue of intrusive, ‘knowing’ ads that you can’t escape from, that really gets to Lomas:
“Made by Google sells the pledge of convenience to consumers. And through this sales pitch, and its accompanying suite of connect-it-all devices, to transform personal spaces into rich repositories of user intel that can continue to fuel its ad-targeting engines for decades to come.”
But to be really dystopian, Google knowing about everything I write about, talk about, watch, react to (with the ever-listing phone or the unobtrusive looking ’Home’ device in my home) has bigger connotations that what ads I am served. That one outcome might seem positively benign a few years from now. Thought crime anyone?
And personally, I’m comfortable with Ads personalised to my known and / or inferred interests that are parsed from all my ‘google touchpoints’ / platforms, which I use for free.
To my mind, the development (or not) of any dystopian future (going beyond pervasive ‘too knowing’ advertising) will be impacted by the relative interplay of four things:
I personally veer more towards a utopian rather than dystopian world view, despite my trend towards being a middle-aged curmudgeon.
But I think we all have to keep a questioning mindset and a ‘watching brief’ on any organisation’s potentially growing monopoly on deep knowledge about us.
What do you think?