Few things repulse me more than someone born with a genius brain who then uses it to befuddle others and turn them into tools.
A leaked video from Google showed up on my screen this morning. At first I was thrilled that we'd have evidence from the inside, showing what's really happening at the home of "Don't Be Evil." But as I watched the video, my emotions changed dramatically.
This video, which was made for Google employees, was designed to confuse them into supporting their employer's plans and to feel like they were smart for doing so. That pissed me off.
So, I'm going to decipher this video. Please read this brief explanation and then watch the video yourself. They're admitting to precisely what Jonathan Logan and I wrote in The New Age of Intelligence, but the admission is wrapped in bullshit that makes people feel smart.
So, here's what was said, all the quotes below are precisely from the video:
1. The video begins with a lesson on biology. Then (1:20) they jump from epigenetic theory (interesting stuff, though not precisely understood) to data produced by a girl on a smart phone… data that Google sucks from her, mainly without her realizing it.
2. They rightly say that the data taken from this girl (or anyone using such phones) "describes our actions, decisions, preferences, movement, and relationships," then compares this data to a "ledger," being "a constantly evolving representation of who we are."
3. Next, the video goes into more biology, saying that "the driving force behind evolution was not the individual but the gene." It goes on (2:52) to say that "the individual organism is a transient carrier, a survival machine for the gene."
4. Now comes a big jump: While showing us the ledger book (and remember, that's essentially you) they talk about making it "richer… by introducing more sources of information." (3:12) Then they ask, "What if we thought of ourselves not as owners of our information… but as transient carriers?" So, you are a "transient carrier" of data, like a hard drive, and the ledger is, for lack of a better work, a precise copy of your soul (or psyche or whatever).
5. They further say that this digitized soul should be given "more inputs." (3:15) That means that they want to add things to your life and mind. They're not explaining what or how yet, but they've got their foot in the door.
6. Now (3:40) comes another leap: "Google would be responsible for offering suitable targets for a user's ledger… topics would likely focus on health or environmental impact, to reflect Google's values as an organization." As the discourse continues, it says (4:01), "… if one of these options allows the ledger to move closer to the user's goal, it is offered up to the user. Over time… the user's behavior may be modified."
7. Then (4:40) the video jumps to what might happen when "the notion of a goal-driven ledger becomes more palatable…." Here they're admitting that people would be repulsed to know what's being done to them. And so, it will take time before this becomes "palatable." This is an echo of a comment from Eric Schmidt (a top-level Google boss), who said he wanted to get Google's policy "as close as possible to the creepy line." Here, however, they expect us to get used to creepy, after which they can get what they really want.
8. The video then describes what happens if you're not sucking up the right information for Google's goal. In that case (4:50), they'll custom design a device for you, according to your "taste and aesthetic sensibility." This results in "a custom object to trigger the user's interest."
9. At 8:39 the video moves forward into "behavior sequencing," a reference to sequencing DNA. What they're talking about is identifying every single thing, internal or external, that drives your behavior. This sequencing ends (7:50) with a system, "which not only tracks our behavior but offers direction toward the desired result."
10. The video concludes with a Do it for the children narrative but with college-level vocabulary and sympathetic images.
So, let's recap:
*Google sees you as a "transient carrier." (#3 above.) That is, the data you produce is the essential being, and you're a mere "container."
*You shouldn't really own your ledger (your most essential self), and they should insert information into your life. (#4, #6)
We'll tell you what to think.
*Google will choose what you should want and will modify your behavior accordingly (#5). How? By offering you new options or even designing custom devices that you won't be able to resist (#8). They will make sure "your behavior" is "modified."
Look at this shiny gadget you really need… and it's free if you take a short quiz!
*If this seems creepy to you, don't worry; you'll warm up to it over time. (#7)
It's okay; you'll come to love Big Brother.
*Google will guide you to what's best for you (#9). You can trust them; they love us and know what's best for us all.
Look little girl; I have candy in the car.
This is how Google sees you, and whether you want to believe me or not, this has already begun. And please understand that Facebook does the same… and that the NSA sucks it all in.
But, hey, the accounts are free! Right?
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A book that generates comments like these, from actual readers, might be worth your time:
I just finished reading The Breaking Dawn and found it to be one of the most thought-provoking, amazing books I have ever read… It will be hard to read another book now that I've read this book… I want everyone to read it.
Such a tour de force, so many ideas. And I am amazed at the courage to write such a book, that challenges so many people's conceptions.
There were so many points where it was hard to read, I was so choked up.
Holy moly! I was familiar with most of the themes presented in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the concepts you presented at the end of this one.
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