30 May 2018
Dichotomy of being Google: Benevolent, Evil and everything in between
If data is the new oil, Google is a mafia.
It knows everything about you - your searches, emails, locations, chats, preferences, religion, ideology. And, it saves every bit of that information, not by your name but by your IP address.
I don't think that co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are particularly evil.
But, for my sake and yours, we must hope that Google should NOT turn evil.
Disclaimer: This author has not been paid by Google
Before you read further, you should know that this author has not been paid by Google. All the views here are personal, pretentiously intellectual, and passionately narrow.
Oh, you bet
Don't freak out, but Google knows it all
Google stores every single search you have made: Everything you search on Google across devices is stored in a separate database by the company. Try it - https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity
The Google Takeout document contains every single Google search that you have made, the websites you have accessed, and all the images you have downloaded.
Long story short, Google can turn evil anytime it wants to. But is it?
All it is doing is dealing with its dichotomies.
Search and Ad
First dichotomy: Google has to earn by selling its heart
Google is what Google does, and therein lies its dichotomies.
Its mission is to organize the world's information and make it accessible to everyone, but Google has its own competing products too. It has often been criticized/fined for misusing its dominant position, and rightly so. The most recent such accusation is by Yelp.
The problem is Google's heart is where its brain is. It can't not tweak results, if it has to sustain its market dominance.
I am the product
Second dichotomy: To sustain itself while serving everything free
Fact#1: Google enjoys monopoly, partly because of their awesomeness, and partly because of their monies. They can create everything, and what they can't, they buy.
Fact#2: In order to survive, we need Google to be awesome. We need their innovation, smartness and foresightedness.
Fact#3: You can survive this lifetime, without paying a single penny to Google.
Fact#4: You are Google's product, its muse, and its inspiration.
End result: Google innovates at our cost, but serves awesomeness on platter.
Third dichotomy: If not Google, then who?
Since Google projects itself to be benevolent, it is judged harshly by everyone.
In March, Google decided to work with US Department of Defense on Project Maven, an initiative to build artificially intelligent drones to be used in wars. Its employees aren't happy with the decision.
But, let's get realistic here: this project will happen with or without Google. At least with Google, there's the promise that these systems won't be evil.
Google is not perfect, but neither is God!
But dear Google, don't ever turn evil
Since 2000, the phrase 'Don't be evil' has been Google's motto. As a matter of fact, it WAS the first sentence in Google's Code of Conduct.
But, sometime between April and May, Google almost entirely removed "Don't be evil" from there. It was included just once, in the very last sentence.
You may call it semantics or HR's idea of remaining busy, but we do hope that Google's actual code-of-conduct doesn't change.
If it's any consolation, Google is far better than Facebook
As per my last count, Facebook's founder, Zuck has publicly apologized at least 14 times till date. From the time, he created a Harvard student hot-or-not rating site, he's been apologizing. In contrast, Google didn't have to issue public apologies every now and then. There must be a reason for that!