Cory Doctorow has written a piece on what would happen if Google… well, stopped not being evil. The short essay describes a hypothetical association between Google and Department of Homeland Security, a recent security US security agency. Although I’ve not finished reading it, the think the most amazed me was, how plausible the described scenario is. I’m not saying it is (or it is not) true. I’m saying that unlike some other dystopian scenarios, this one, despite being an extreme one, looks surprisingly plausible.
WHAT IF GOOGLE WERE EVIL? Cory Doctorow imagines the worst
“Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I will find an excuse in them to hang him.” —Cardinal Richelieu
“We don’t know enough about you.” —Google CEO Eric Schmidt
I might further edit this post after I finish reading the essay…
EDIT: I am now writing a couple of days after the initial post. I’ve finished reading it, and while I did not actually enjoyed the end (seemed a little far fetched, reminded me of the ending of Brave New World…) the essay itself is a joy to read. I wonder what Google guys must have thought of this… I mean, I’ve never worked at Google (though I did apply once…), but from I’ve read, it appears that most of the guys of work there, enjoys their work very much. For instance, quoting Peter Norvig, here’s what he says about his own job (he is currently Director of Reseach at Google):
And this “working enthusiasm”, lacking a better description, appears to be pervasive at Google. So how can an IT company with such devoted workers come so close to ending privacy worldwide? This is not an easy question, but I think that this may be similar to judging the nature of scientific developments: it depends not only on the developments per se, but also on the use that they are given.The scientific development in discussion here is a great search engine, one whose greatness is only surpassed by the enormous abuse possibilities (as so many science and technological wonders before it). I think they new this for a while back, and that may have been one of the reasons for their world famous motto: “Don’t be evil”. But they already caved to Chinese censorship laws, and with the US becoming a more police state as each day goes by, one can only become wary of possibilities… Reminds me of a quote by Reagan that I previously posted:
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free
A final note to say that subcontracting intelligence gathering to the private sector, something referred to in the essay, is not fiction; it is a proposed measure by the US government (will post link to it when I find it).