(4 minutes reading time, Note by author: this is a highly opinionated post)
Some weeks ago Google announced the acquisition of Nest. For those who do not know Nest and its products: it is a young USA based company founded by ex Apple executives producing a home thermostat. They have recently added a smoke alarm to their line-up. Seemingly not very interesting stuff.
But Nest has been able to produce two very fancy products – making some pretty boring product lines fashionable overnight – while using modern technologies like wifi and sensors to enhance these products – being smart and vastly improving on the user interface – and hook them up to the home network, the internet and your smartphone (as the natural home automation hub). I have been waiting eagerly for Nest to launch in the EU, even before it was launched in the USA.
When I learned about Google’s 3 billion dollar (!) move I reacted harshly: “I will never buy the Nest thermostat now Google owns it”. It was the same reaction I had when Google bought the Israeli social navigation company / app Waze
(update 20 feb 2014: Just removed Whatsapp due to Facebook buy-out and joins Instagram in my app graveyard. If Google, Facebook and I stick to our current strategies I will be left in a barren landscape…
This week Pankaj Mishra wrote an interesting article Google Is Making A Land Grab For The Internet Of Things | TechCrunch
Google’s “real life Internet”, a business that reaches far beyond web search and online advertising, may look like a General Electric on the Internet of Things side, and an IBM on the software side — where artificial intelligence is at the core of products like Watson.
I have been posting about Google at Red Planet Dust many times in the past as this company is doing things that I find remarkable and often highly interesting. I even confessed one day “Shocker: I Find Google Much More Interesting Then Apple!”. But above all these subjects are relevant for my inquiry into collaborability. I commented and linked to highly interesting interview articles like the one with Mr. Google’s Search, Amit Singhal about the future of search or about
“The destiny of [Google’s search engine] is to become that Star Trek computer, and that’s what we are building.”
I discussed for instance the way we change as humans as a consequence and how our decision making will change, both for individuals as for companies. Actually I used the home thermostat as an example to show how we delegate decisions to computers step by step and called this “exothought”.
Just a few topics I toughed upon: Google Graph, Google’s quest for natural language understanding for machines, quantum computing, artificial intelligence. Combine this with topics like Big data, and changes in decision making and the impact on what we are as humans and how we live and collaborate becomes more apparent.
The gist of all these posts is that if you combine all the dots Google is working on they will become omnipresent. The vast amount of information they are able to capture is mind boggling and rivals that of the NSA in size, but holds very intimate and detailed information about you and me.
Where some people are arguing “OK NSA has the information but does not do anything with it” or “They do it for National Security”. But the essence of Google is to not only have the information but actually do something with ALL off it, besides Google is in it for them selves only.
With their foray into the “internet of things” they will complete the complete encirclement: they know where you are, what you are doing, with whom, how you are, even are pretty adequate in pre-empting what you are going to do next. And if you happen to be out of their reach for just a moment they will be able to fill in the dots by the information they have on you and all the others around you. It does not take much information to figure that all out anyway.
They will have the power to steer everyone of us without any precedence in history. Who will be able to compete with them, to control them, or even can it be controlled by Google it self?
Google has long past the line of its own declared “Do no evil” credo. They are becoming so omnipresent that they are having negative consequences, not only for their competitors but for society at large and to a frightening extend.
Maybe we should start considering to stop Google in its tracks now we still can?