In the 21st Century, information is power. So if one company has all the information, is it more powerful than our planet's governments?
Folks, there is a reason Google dropped their "Don't be evil" mantra for "Search, Ads, and Apps". Because their management has seen incredible amounts of money in the last few years, and we all know that money and power has the ability to corrupt people. And now that their old mantra is gone, there is little to stand in the way of their utter domination over the world's data.
Think I'm being extreme? Not according to today's Financial Times:
Asked how Google might look in five years’ time, Mr Schmidt said: “We are very early in the total information we have within Google. The algorithms will get better and we will get better at personalization.
“The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as ‘What shall I do tomorrow?’ and ‘What job shall I take?’ ”
I hate to sound alarmist here, but this sounds like stuff straight out of The Matrix. We're all addicted to our computers enough as it is... do we really want to see the day when people need to ask their computer where they should work and what they should do? Yeah, THAT sounds like fun. But why not? We already have advertisers telling us what to buy, magazines telling us what to wear, and eHarmony.com telling us who we should marry. What makes this any different?
The reason why the American system of democracy works (well, I use the term loosely) is because power is distributed throughout the various levels of government, all the way down to the people. But for all the digi-rati intellectuals that say that information is the property of the people, those same people are off daydreaming an a utopian la-la land while Google executes their "stated mission to organize the world's information". These are the same people, by the way, who wouldn't give information to the government even if it stopped innocent people from being killed. Quite a mighty double-standard, don'cha think?
Speaking of double-standards, this is the same stuff that got Microsoft in so much trouble back in the day. You guys didn't allow it then, so why all of a sudden is it OK now? Mary Jo Foley's litmus test is the best: When looking at any new Google venture, swap out the word "Google" with "Microsoft" and ask yourself if you're still OK with what's happening. If you're no longer OK with it, then you have a problem.
I'm not just saying all of this because I am a "Microsoft fanboy". I think companies like Google, Apple, and others, while I dislike them personally, are necessary for a thriving and robust capitalist ecosystem of free market dynamics. As long as they play by the rules. But if they want to be able to suggest to me what I should do and where I should work, what stops them from using the same methodologies to determine if I'm a potential thief, murderer, sex offender, or terrorist, and automatically alert the authorities? Would you want Google putting you up on a watchlist just because you visit porn sites?
Blindness to the true goals of the people in power is what got Europe into hot water 60 years ago. It's time to start putting some checks and balances into this system. Otherwise one day, you won't need Uncle Sam looking over your shoulder, cause Google will already have it covered.
UPDATE: I was just lamenting over the announcement that Google bought my favorite service FeedBurner (in line with their "ads and stats" acquisition strategy, being well on their way to total domination over my website's operation... and I discovered why Google does indeed have a double standard. It lies in this comment:
As long Google is sharing some money, I don’t bother about others.
So, it would be OK if the Microsoft monopoly controlled nearly every aspect of your personal information and habits, as long as they paid you for it. Gotcha.