Saturday, May 18, 2013

Google's New Search Tools Invade Your Privacy Even More

Once again Google has been working hard to do us all a favor – this time to save us the time and energy of thinking for ourselves. They’ve introduced new search tools, which, when you ask a question, predict what your next question will be and give you the answer to that too. They already do it, but they've refined it now. None of this of course allows for any original thinking and is predicated on the assumption that we’re all the same.

So Jack, who lives in LA, has a wife and two children, is an upper middle income architect who owns his own home, may ask Google how to bake a chocolate cake. I might ask the same question. I’m not an architect, I don’t live in LA and I don’t have two children or a wife. Will Google know the difference between us? If we’ve both got gmail accounts it might, because its algorithms mine the information in everybody’s gmail correspondence, and blogger blogs. From which a profile is created that’s updated every second you’re blogging or corresponding with somebody via gmail. Probably via other email hosts as well. It’s common knowledge that Google will commit dirty deeds if it can get away with it.

I Googled the question ‘how do I bake chocolate cake’ just to see the results. Can’t do any comparing here since I don’t know a Jack from LA. Google’s search results on the first page are all about, yes, baking a chocolate cake. Down at the bottom of the page, I see ‘how to bake a chocolate cornflake cake’ ‘no bake chocolate cake’. Clearly Google thinks I love cornflakes and don’t really like baking.

For now it’s just guesswork, but when that tool kicks in… And people are worried about big government big brother tactics? Big government has nothing on Google. Unless of course – OMG – Google is big government. Which isn't as absurd as you'd hope it would be given how much influence corporate interest has on state policies the world over.

Google’s PR drive with their new tools is that they’re helping people to become smarter. By spoonfeeding them information they haven’t directly asked for. What an absurd rationale. Ironically, big brother tactics by governments actually promote entitlement empowerment, because people have to think for themselves to find ways to elude being spied on. And they do. And they protest, and communicate with each other, and use their brains in all sorts of creative ways. But Google’s so-called ‘empowerment tool’ is a way of deadening people’s capacity for creative thinking altogether. 

But then that’s marketing for you. Extraordinary understanding of psychology they have - to be able to create an image of themselves as being heavily invested in individuality and creativity. Mind you, maybe they don't have such a great understanding after all. There’s one enormous aspect of being human that they've overlooked. Or just don't know anything about because - well, because they're all clones. It's that some people can actually think for themselves. For myself I’m happy to say, what Google never gets is that I don’t give a damn darling about affiliate marketers’ versions of how to bake a chocolate cake, or their cheap diversionary attempts to draw me to another site trying to sell me something that has nothing to do with chocolate cake. 

Nor does Google take into account that when I want to know something I know how to ask the specific question, and I don’t like somebody trying to predict what I want or what I need. In fact, I'm likely to discount any of those results out of pure annoyance.

And all the work they put into creating a profile they can market to is a waste of time, since I ignore all advertising. If I want to buy something I look for it. They're welcome to try and use that info against me, but it will never work. Furthermore, if what Google gives me doesn't meet my need I'll get frustrated with Googledom and try another route altogether. I guess they could start putting anarchistic sites in front of me. Which could lead to being targetting by gun dealers and right wing organizations. Then the FBI and the CIA could get wind of me and arrest me and… 

I wonder if there’s an architect named Jack living in LA, with two kids and a wife who’s thinking along the same lines as I am? Catch us if you can, Google. And here's a recipe that will never bake: Google + respect for the right to privacy.