Let’s talk about Travis and his paranoid delusions. Or maybe they’re just my fears? As someone who has spent half his life in the high tech industry, I’m pretty familiar with the way a lot of the industry operates. I understand hardware, until it gets down beyond the silicon where there’s a lot of math and electrical current and all that. I understand software down to the part where you have to code the actual language of it. I understand the internet both from a user perspective, as well as from a technical perspective.
On top of all this knowledge-y goodness, I’m also old. I’ll be 41 in a couple of weeks. This gives me a lot of experience, but it also gives me a good deal of perspective. I’ve been alive long enough to actually see trends develop. A lot of you younger readers, you’ve grown up with the internet and instant communications. To you, this is just normal. This is how it is. It’s sort of like when I grew up with TV or electricity (okay, I’m not that old, but you know what I mean). It’s something you take for granted.
Now, knowing what I know about technology, business, and human nature (and money, let’s not forget money, and religion, I guess, though religion doesn’t play a part in this at all as far as I can tell), I’ve watched the world grow up with this new internet “thing.” There’s still some of us who are scared of computers, and don’t understand the internet. I’m pretty sure when I was born, there were still those who were scared to death of color television and didn’t understand why it was important to put men in space.
I’ve watched how technology has evolved the social structure of civilization, and has done it possibly more rapidly than any other huge leap in innovation ever has in our history. I grew up remembering a billion phone numbers (733-9329 was our home # for… forever, like twenty years or more, and 733-5776 was the number of the car dealership who had the most annoying asshole I’ve ever seen on TV doing their commercials). I grew up having to get up and change the channel. I also remember remote controls having five buttons only: power, channel up, channel down, volume up, volume down.
My mother told me about remotes that only had one button. You clicked it, and the channel went up. That’s it. To get all the way back around, you just clicked it a bunch of times. But, and keep this in mind, there were like… three TV networks back then, and that’s about it. The Star-Spangled Banner played at midnight, then it was six to eight hours of snow because the TV stations shut down for the night.
My very first video game system consisted of a stiff joystick (make all the jokes you want and get it out of your system) with a single button. You popped a square cartridge into a rectangular faux-wood paneled console, and used the joystick and button to move a square around a screen, shooting squares at other squares. These other squares, they didn’t blow up into a bunch of other squares. They just spun around and bounced off a barrier then began shooting squares at you again.
My first portable music player was this big bulky piece of shit off-brand monster that dined on my favorite cassette tapes whenever it wasn’t sucking the life out of four AA batteries every thirty minutes. My first TV weighed about a million pounds and was only 19” diagonally. High definition wasn’t really a term for anything other than what people tripping on acid said to describe what they were seeing. The only things that were really ‘wireless’ were those cool remote control cars that were all the rage in the early 80’s.
So what’s my point, other than I’m an angry old man raging about some bullshit that doesn’t have a point yet? Carly, my superhero wife (she also teaches Advanced Placement Human Geography and US History at the high school level), told me something almost offhand this afternoon that has sort of bugged me quite a bit all day. I freaked her out with what I’m about to tell you, even though I was kind of only half-imagining a good story I might write. But at the same time… Anyway, when I tell you what she said, and how I kind of made her paranoid as well, you’ll laugh. Because it’s just so… innocent. Maybe.
Carly told me that someone from Google is going to visit her high school soon after the new year begins in a few weeks. This Google person is going to help train the faculty and I guess the students on how to use their new Chromebooks, and more importantly, how to utilize the vast array of Google’s services, which are a huge part of everyday lives for a good percentage of the population. Especially students / schools. Have you noticed that a lot of mail services have switched over to Gmail servers with Gmail’s UI? When you think of Google Docs, do you know how many actual uses/applications it truly consists of?
I know, right? Super paranoid! Google is evil! Taking over the… wait. I haven’t told you that part yet. And I’ll be honest. I’m kind of playing it up on purpose. But still, it kind of makes you wonder. Oh, get to the part that makes us wonder. Gotcha.
Okay, so as I was saying, if you didn’t know, school rely heavily on Gmail and other Google services. Google has spent tons of money and manpower to make Gmail and Docs and Search and Maps and Drive and Calendar and all that other great stuff (YOUTUBE!) part of our everyday lives, and they’ve spent a big chunk of that making sure it’s good enough, and easy enough to use, that schools will buy into it (whether free or paying for services). And for the most part, school districts have bought into it (mostly for free). And it’s a good deal for cash-strapped schools. Instead of paying through the nose for the latest MS Office, they can use Open Office. Instead of paying for X-service or product, they can get it free through Google, or practically free through Google.
But let’s step back a moment. Let’s talk about what Google really does. Sure, they provide email, and an Android platform that dominates the market (yes, there are more Android devices than Apple devices in the world). They have the best search, the best video site, the best work campus, the best perks, blah blah blah. But how? More importantly, how do they know what you’re going to search for? How do they know what search results are going to be the most relevant to YOU? How much does Google really know about you?
This is kind of the scary part, and it’s really not to be read in a sinister inner voice. I mean, you can, that’s cool, but it might make you a bit paranoid, and then you’ll be no better than me. But seriously, this isn’t supposed to be the sinister plot reveal. It’s just how it is. If it is a bit frightening, then that’s probably a good thing. I shouldn’t have to explain why. Well, I have to explain about how much Google knows about you, then I won’t have to explain why this should be a bit concerning, possibly even remotely scary.
Oh, if you don’t use Google, well, this probably won’t make as much sense, but if you just exchange “Google” with “Amazon” or “Apple” you’ll understand.
I’ve been on the internet since 1986. Yeah, before there was a real ‘internet.’ I mean, DARPAnet was up and running, and the universities were all expanding into this new network, but for me, the internet was a BBS. A Bulletin Board System. I hooked my Commodore64 computer up to an old telephone landline, dialed up the server, then chatted or played text-based games or trivia with others.
I know, right? It sounds worse than using a stiff joystick with a single button to make a square move around a TV screen while shooting squares at other squares. But it was soooooo awesome. I met my first girlfriend on a BBS a couple months after first signing on. This was a harbinger of doom, as I met Carly on the internet. The doom was really for her. I pretty much doom everyone I come in contact with.
Anyway, I got in early to Windows 95, then the leap to AOL, Prodigy, and Compuserve. If you only know AOL out of those three names, you’re not alone. If you don’t even know who the hell AOL is, you’re probably a growing number of young folks. It’s okay. AOL, Prodigy, and Compuserve were the three top Internet Service Providers (ISPs) back then. Back in the dial-up modem days. If you can’t imagine those days, then just watch a black & white movie and imagine that as your amazing technology (moving pictures without color).
I watched a ton of people that had no concept of computers other than “War Games” and W.H.O.P.P.E.R. suddenly become addicted to this new internet fad. Instead of watching cable television and playing Playstation 1 or Nintendo 64 games, they could go into these chat rooms and talk to persons a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand miles away. They could see web pages (mostly it was pornography), and wait nineteen minutes for a single picture to download enough to display on the screen.
But the social evolution of modern civilization began to shift right then. Computers were becoming small enough and powerful enough, and easy enough to use for dummies that everyone could see them following the same trend as TV’s then VCR’s. Because of the internet. There were still a lot of old, angry, cane-shaking jerks like me back then, shouting about stupid new technology, and if you goddamn well wanted to talk to someone, you goddamn drove to their goddamn house and knocked on their goddamn door. You didn’t make threats over these intereweb shits, you drove to the bar and punched Billy in the face (or you punched him in the face the next day at school in front of his locker).
Humans, in the meantime, ignored the angry old crotchety bastards, and flocked to this internet thing. Suddenly these websites started popping up that offered something other than pornography for sale. This one website started selling books. You’ve probably heard of Amazon.com, but just in case, they’re really big now. Tons of other sites followed. Tech got better, processors got faster, and broadband finally began to blanket the urban areas and began creeping into the rural areas. And now we had Excite Chat to replace AOL, which was replaced by MSN Messenger (and MSN Gaming Zone!), which was replaced by ICQ, which was replaced by this new evolution in social interaction, this “Myspace” thing. Which was eventually replaced by this Facebook thing, which is even now being replaced by other sites (Google that shit if you don’t believe me).
During this time, we’ve gone from landlines to pagers to big brick phones that created tumors the size of grapefruit on pretentious asshole heads who used them all the time just like their offspring do now when they should be paying attention to the goddamn road and the cars in front of them. All the way to these ultra-thin, high-resolution portable communication and entertainment devices. Soon we’ll even have a watch that is basically an iPad or whatever miniaturized and bound to your wrist.
Remember when you called someone on the old landline and they weren’t home? Remember how their answering machine picked up? Yeah, that didn’t happen for a long time. Answering machines took a while to get here, but when they did, they went from the bulky bastards to the mini-cassettes to digital memory units. All the way to voicemail. And you don’t have to drop everything and run to the house to get the phone before they hang up because there was no caller ID or *69 for a long time, because now, you just carry your phone within a hundred feet of your Bluetooth earjack and you’re always connected.
(don’t worry, I’m getting to a point eventually).
I’ve watched all of this. And during all that watching, I’ve watched companies do their best to try and figure out how to utilize this to their advantage. TV networks used to hire this company called Nielson or some shit to poll TV viewers as to what they were watching, when they watched it, etc. These poll numbers were then used to rate the popularity of shows, and the most popular shows commanded the most advertising dollars. This was a great idea, I guess. Sounds kind of suspect, as humans can barely remember what they had for breakfast, so it’s hard to believe they knew what the hell they watched last Tuesday at 6:30 since Magnum P.I. wasn’t on until 8.
Wait, maybe these ancient humans did remember what they were watching, since they didn’t have a goddamn phone that had every excruciating minute of their lives all planned out on the calendar app, punctuated by the notes you took or the Facebook posts you made detailing everything you did for the last nine minutes. Just in case anyone missed out on your life. No Google to look up some fact you should probably already know but don’t need to remember thanks to Google.
ANYWAY… databases were always very useful, even before computers. But with modern computers’ ability to sift through massive amounts of data quickly, and then correlate that data with trends or behaviors, well that was part of the evolutionary shift of modern civilization. Before, Nielson and other pollsters relied on humans telling them something from memory. I did this at 3AM. I like cheese because my brother gave it to me when I was six. I think I used that brand of motor oil three oil changes ago.
Now? Why, if Facebook wants to know which of your friends’ bullshit updates should be at the top of your news feed, it looks at your past chat and click history within FB itself, but it also looks at the cookies your browser has collected from all the other websites it has visited before (or between) Facebook visits. It knows you were shopping on Amazon at 5:17PM on Friday, and you didn’t leave until you went to YouTube at 6:41PM, where you watched three South Park clips, some Russian guys fighting on the side of a freeway (because that’s what Russian guys do, I guess?), a female MMA fight, and a clip of Dave Chappelle doing a stand-up routine. Then you went to NPR and read a couple of stories about boutique coffee collectives in Kenya and Ethopia.
So FB sees all this and says “let’s feed her advertisements of coffee and South Park merchandise, and put these three posts from her friends list at the top of her news feed since they have keywords containing Dave Chappelle, MMA, and funny clips of Russians beating the shit out of each other because of road rage.”
Kind of scary, right?
But wait, there’s more.
Think about that just being a few hours. Now imagine what Facebook knows about you based on watching you closely for the past six years. Imagine what Google knows about you based on all of your search history, the contents of your email (yes, they scan the contents of your email, supposedly to serve you more relevant advertisements), the documents you’ve created and collaborated on, the videos you’ve watched.
Now, imagine Google knowing all of that from your computer browsing and emailing. Add in the fact that you own an Android-based phone or tablet (or both!). Every single telephone number, email address, physical address, every single detail of that sort is readily available to Google. Most are already in your Gmail contacts, but if they weren’t, they were as soon as you signed into your Android device with a Google account. Oh, and if you have more than one Gmail or Google account, like I have, Google knows it. They already have your accounts linked unless you were Justin Bourne and did everything you could to never log into both accounts from the same device (or from the same network).
Not only that, but all of your texts. Apps also have all of these access rights, unless you specifically forbid them, in which case they’ll usually not install (or will install but won’t work). Oh, and you know, you can be tracked by your phone’s triangulation (the towers your device accesses to stay connected to the mobile network), right? But that’s not even necessary. Most people have their “location” turned on, which also means GPS. GPS means Google knows where you just posted your hatred of Subway sandwiches, or at least within twelve inches. Which is what your whole rant about Subway was, because their footlongs are only eleven fucking inches long.
But even as you snidely tell me that you never turn your GPS on, you still leave your wifi on. And when you bounce around wifi networks, especially if your phone is allowed to connect to public wifi hotspots (which is usually enabled by default), then Google simply estimates your location based on the IP address that the wifi network router assigns you. If Google has already had dealings with that particular wifi router before, and knows for sure based on the MAC address (that’s like a hardcoded physical address, sort of like your home address, that all network devices have) that it’s the Subway wifi at 1640 S. Footlong Drive, then they don’t even need to estimate. You just posted something from a specific location, or within a hundred feet of it, whatever the wifi range is.
This still isn’t the scary part.
So Google knows all of this about you. It basically is a silent, hidden stalker in your life. It knows your habits. It knows probably when you shit every day, and how much caffeine is in you by the time you open a browser and check your Gmail. And it has been detailing your life for the last eleven years. For eleven years, every single day of your life, other than when you go on ill-fated camping trips that have no cell or wifi access, Google knows what you’re up to.
So does Amazon, should you shop with them. They collect as much information about you as they can. They do it under the guise of making your shopping experience better, more personal, more efficient. Apple is guilty as well. They want to make you a consumer for life. They want to make sure you never want to stray and use a non-Apple product, from cradle to grave. Google says the same thing: all the better to serve you, the customer, better.
But there’s this limitation that is in place, pesky laws and morals and all that. See, in America, there’s this law called COPPA, and it’s all about keeping children under 13 years of age ‘safe’ from whatever internet bogeyman and predators and unscrupulous data collectors might try and befriend your child. The law isn’t really effective, as anyone under 13 just says yes, they are over 13. It’s kind of silly. However, the one thing we adults, parents especially, get up in arms about is our children somehow being exploited or used or even abused by the internet.
We don’t want TJ Maxx communicating with our 8 year old daughter because we want to filter the emails that claim in big cartoon letters that it’s fun to wear sexy volleyball shorts where your ass cheeks hang out the bottom. We don’t want Nickelodeon using the browsing habits of our two pre-teen boys to target advertisements to them. We get enough of that shit with Saturday morning cartoons. We don’t want Google or Microsoft or even Apple tracking the every movement of our 11 year olds, or our five year olds. We don’t want them doing it to our 14 year olds either.
And for the most part, the big tech giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple… they avoid delving into this sticky area. Bad PR, even for tech giants, is a bad thing. If it was about adults, then it would be good PR, because there’s no such thing as bad PR. But when it involves children, even a little bad PR can turn into a shitstorm of splattering, raining, burning fire. There’s some of the low-known or unknown companies that exploit children as much as possible before a parent or a nerd figures out what’s going on, and the company gets sued out of business or has to change their name to avoid the venom and vitriol from parents and even government officials for messing around with underage kids.
So, from about 15-ish onward (and let’s be honest, probably from before 15 these days), until death however many years later, these tech companies, especially Google, know you better than you know yourself. They know more about your habits than you do. To you, you just like to pick your nose and eat it until your nose bleeds. You don’t think about how often you do it (unless you are addicted to the point where it’s all you think about). You don’t care how often you do it. You’ve made your nose bleed from picking it so often that you can’t even remember how often that happens, other than ‘regularly.’
But Google and/or Amazon… they know. They know you pick your nose an average of 17 times per day, and you make it bleed at least twice per day. Google knows because you’ve searched for terms like “why do boogers look so gross but taste so great?” and “how to stop a nosebleed.” Google knows because you emailed a specialist who told you that you should seek treatment for booger eating addiction (not sure if it’s an eating disorder, or some kind of emotional trauma from a previous event when you were really young). Google knows because you’ve searched for reviews for the best kind of ‘nose tampons’ you can find that are the most discreet yet the most absorbent. Google knows because you’ve looked at websites that show you how to get bloodstains out of your clothing (and your mustache).
Amazon… they know because after you used Google to search for all those things, you used Amazon to buy Shady Bob’s Super-Absorbing Sanitary Nose Napkins (with Wings!), some Blood-B-Gone stain remover, and a Pepper Lotion that you put on the tips of your fingers to make it burn like wildfire if said fingers get anywhere near the mucus membranes of your nose (however, if you aren’t a gringo, then you’ll have some spicy flavoring added to whatever gourmet meals you pick out of the olfactory supermarket).
I mean… that’s a lot of fucking information for a company to know about you. If I really sat here and listed out every single aspect of what these companies know about you, it probably would put you into an anxiety attack. But our kids… they’re safe, right? At least until they are teenagers?
Ah, we finally get to point.
You see, when Carly told me the Google guys were coming to show them how to use Google technology to make school more better (that’s pretty bad grammar, I know), the very first thing I thought of wasn’t “oh, cool, now you’ll be able to collaborate with your students on a much more robust scale!”
It was “So… now Google can finally breach that taboo barrier, and begin collecting information on our children from as early an age as they can push for.”
Because Google is NOT just going to high schools and helping teachers and teenagers learn how to use their products better, more efficiently. Google is also visiting middle schools and elementary schools. Again, remember, kids born in the last decade have never known a world without internet. Unless they were born in Swaziland. But even in Swaziland, they have internet, because these two dudes from there always try to get me to give them $6000 USD so they can unlock the account that has $300,000,000 USD in it, and they’ll pay me back 10x my initial emergency help investment.
Kids grow up now being better at a game I’ve spent 12 years of my life mastering by the time they hit 4 years old. I got beat by a five year old at Guitar Hero. WTF? I’ve been playing real guitar for like… twenty years, and Guitar Hero religiously for about five to seven at least. I was beating songs on Expert before this little fucker was even born. They know how to work iPads and Android phones and computers and the DVR and can even probably program the sprinkler system, which still confuses even me. It’s natural they’ll want to be on the leading edge of technology. They’ll grow up around it, and they’ll grow with it just as much as tech will grow with them.
But now Google is beginning to gain access to even the sacred early years of our children’s lives. Because to use Chromebooks and Google services, you have to have a Google account. And once you have that Google account at age 6, 9, 12, whatever, you’ll always have that Google account. If you ever decide you hate that account/email, and get another, it isn’t like Google won’t know it’s you. You logged out of your old account after terminating it and then registered a new account on the same goddamn computer. Or maybe you did the deleting on a computer, and registering on a new phone. But you’re still connecting to the internet through your same home router / cable modem. Google knows.
Now from age 6 on, Google will begin to get an even more thorough look at what the average human does. Because kids that are six years old are going to become even more connected as they grow older and learn more about it, and tech advances to give them more entertainment, more learning abilities, more shopping choices, etc.
From cradle to grave. Because it’s pretty safe to assume that at some point, right after kids are born they’ll be connected to the internet in some way or other. Whether it’s mom posting Instagram pictures of an infant at 9 weeks and there’s a Gerber branded something or other in the picture (not to mention the picture was taken with a Samsung Universe S9 256GB phone-tablet), and the caption/discussion centers around which diapers, how often the kid needs to be fed and changed, all that… it’s right there for the taking.
Google might not connect all of that pre-registration information of a child’s first four to six years with their Google account until many years later, but eventually it will. It will realize that the baby in the picture with the ugly dog and hot aunt is the same little puke-face booger-eating addict that just got suspended from 3rd grade for three days after sexting Tina Gunderson by using a paint app to draw a picture of a My Little Pony missing it’s head (and that’s not a rainbow coming out of its neck). And it will confirm it when the kid is in 6th grade, and again in 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and all through the college years.
Now, as I said, none of this was to be read in a paranoid, OH MY GOD THE POD PEOPLE ARE COMING! inner voice. I’m just telling you what Google and other tech companies already do, and what their next logical step is now that they’ve been invited to be a sort of “harmless” digital parasite in our children’s lives.
Will I run down the streets shouting how evil Google is? How they, like Amazon, want to eat fetuses directly from the womb of pregnant women (whom they’ve kept as cattle for this very purpose in an underground lab)? No. I won’t. I will point out, like I already do, that every single one of you reading this… Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, one or more companies know who you are, what you do, and where you go. What you spend your money on. What type of porn you watch when your spouse isn’t home. What type of porn your teenage son watches when you aren’t home.
Again, this isn’t speculation. These companies already know this about you. Mostly because you don’t seem to care, and so you leave your browser and your tablet and your phone wide open, allowing all kinds of cookies to stick around, probably never clearing them or your browser history but once ever nine weeks (or months, or never, I spent a lot of time cleaning up computers that had seven years of temp files and internet cache files clogging them). Worse, anytime you want to install that new Twerkmania app on your phone, regardless of Windows, iOS, or Android, it tells you what permissions it “needs” and you simply click the OK SHUT THE FUCK UP AND INSTALL ALREADY button.
Somewhere in your mind, your consciousness is slightly bothered that your new harmless looking app about twerking needed to have access to your contacts, your location, your networks, pretty much every function of your phone… just to deliver funny videos of Twerking Fails Near the Deep Fat Fryer Table. If you want to use your finger to draw funny penis cartoons on your phone’s screen, does the app you’re drawing in really need to know who is in your contact list? Why would a PDF reader need to know your location just to read a PDF file?
But maybe now that you know your children or grandchildren are nothing more than long-term experiments for tech companies, you’ll think a little more about maybe using the Incognito/Private mode on your browser. Maybe you won’t install Shady Bob’s Lasagna Festival of Lasagna game because it claims to need to know everything stored in your phone to work. Maybe you’ll question why Google wants this data, and what they plan to do with it.
Maybe you’ll finally give a damn about this “privacy” shit that you complain about so much when you hear stories about the NSA or your neighbors snooping over your fence at your shitty yard that hasn’t been mowed in six weeks because you spent all of your gas money on Farmville upgrades.
Maybe it isn’t such a good thing that a company knows more about you and your daily habits than you consciously do.
I’m not saying disconnect from the net and rip out all the copper wiring in your house so the Brain Borers can’t detect you and eat your thoughts. Technology, specifically the internet, is here to stay. Better yet, it will keep evolving, and in turn, we’ll keep evolving. The rate of evolution is growing faster as the rate of new technologies grows faster.
How about we let kids be free of that shit and let them be kids for a while? They’ll already be rabid consumers by age 4, screaming and throwing a tantrum because you’re a bitch and didn’t buy them Pop-Tarts and a SpongeBob doll. Do you really want Google or Amazon suggesting to their greedy little eyes that Pop Tarts are healthy, nutritious breakfast alternatives, and SpongeBob dolls are on sale at Amazon with free Prime shipping?
The real problem is that only weirdos like me seem to care. You only seem to care when Target’s servers are breached and your financial data might have been stolen. You only seem to care when the bank computers fuck up YOUR account or mortgage, not the 32,000 others in the state that are in the same situation. It’s only important to you when some bullshit these companies do breaches YOUR little world in some way.
But by then, it’s too late. You’ve allowed them to become so pervasive that you can’t live without them and their services.
So, you know, maybe at least think about the children. Isn’t that the same shit people say when they want to appeal to you and you’re being a hardass that doesn’t give a damn?
So, like I said, I did freak Carly out. Like seriously. I don’t think she’s ever thought about it in such depth or detail, and remember, she’s been with me for about thirteen years. Thirteen of the nerdiest, geekiest years of her life. She knows how to overclock a processor, something 90% of self-professed geeks don’t know shit about. She can break down a computer, either with a hammer and a chainsaw, or by taking it apart carefully. She’s better at the HULK SMASH part, but she’s delicate enough to do it the proper way. And yes, I’ve said this to her before, and like you, she asked “what kind of delicate flower am I?” to which I replied “that corpse flower thing that blooms only every few years and stinks like it died.”
Needless to say, I never remember that I said that before, so each time I get in trouble all over again. Corpse flowers are beautiful. They just stink. I should probably find a way to… no, you know what? I’ll just shut up. I’m pretty sure she’ll read this at some point.
Anyway, after freaking her out, she asked me: “do you really think Google is evil?”
My reply? I don’t think Google is “evil” in the normal, biblical sense. If I close my Gmail account, I doubt a demon will burst through my walls and possess me. I hope not. Now I’m afraid to close my Gmail account.
However, I don’t believe Google is benevolent in any sense. They are a publicly traded company, which means shareholders, and shareholders means that it’s a business. Businesses are about money. Money is something businesses need. To get more money, they need to innovate and come up with new ways to generate money. Being able to track and accurately predict what a huge segment of the population will do/buy/read/play/watch/write/say is one hell of a way to be able to generate cash.
So… yeah, they’re evil. They wouldn’t take a stand in China over censorship because money was involved. Or, rather, their lack of ability to make money in the Chinese market if they were banned by the government for supporting censorship. The most evil part of that isn’t that they bowed and broke their rule of “DON’T BE EVIL.” The most evil part is that they are so huge, so powerful, so influential, that other tech giants like Yahoo and Microsoft didn’t stand up to China or any other nation that actively censors the internet.
Okay, okay, maybe not evil. I just don’t believe their goals align with that of society’s. It seems even more clear now that they’ve figured out how to get kids signed up to their services at the earliest possible age, in the guise of “education technology.”
I think the thing about this that annoys me the most is that they’re pretending to be doing kids and schools this great service, when really all they’re doing is making schools and teachers and parents feel like they, the teachers, schools, and parents, need these services and devices, and that Google, aw shucks, is just trying to help everyone out.
Right. So, anyway, after freaking Carly out (especially when I told her that Apple and Amazon and dozens of other tech giants are clones of Google when it comes to collecting data on humans), I then posited the question of whether or not these tech giants are aggregating millions, maybe billions of individual human lives, down to the very smallest “lol” reply to a text or FB post, over a lengthy period of decades, because that’s how the first Artificial Intelligences will be created.
How better to learn and emulate human behavior than to feed a program trillions of bits of data and statistics and choices and whatever else it is that gets tracked?
<cue scary music>
<also, cue alien bursting out of space miner’s stomach>
This has been another paranoid delusion brought to you by the number 13, and the letters OH and SHIT.
<cue stolen, altered Sesame Street theme song as scene fades to black>
PS: I’ll edit this later, so don’t bitch about any mistakes.