Google’s goal: To control the world’s data

The humanoid Atlas, developed by Boston Dynamics.
The humanoid Atlas, developed by Boston Dynamics.

In 2013, Google acquired eight companies specializing in robotics, and many have asked what Google will do with all those robots.

The eighth company wa

s Boston Dynamics, which through funding by DARPA has developed a couple of high-profile animal-like robots and the two-legged humanoid Atlas.

A week after that acquisition, Google became the world’s robot king when one of the companies previously bought won the final trials of the DARPA Robotics Challenge–a competition where robots are expected to manage tasks like climbing a ladder, punch a hole through a wall, drive a car and close valves. Second was a team that used the Atlas robot.

Google’s interest in robots should be seen in the broader context of its other ventures–everything from the digital glasses Google Glass and driverless vehicles to its established services–web search, maps, Street View, videos, the Android OS, web-based office applications and Gmail. Plus the latest big acquisition at $3.2 billion–Nest Labs, that develops the self-learning thermostat Nest and the connected smoke detector Protect.

The common denominator is data. Large amounts of data about what users are doing and thinking, about where they go and what the world looks like.

It fits the robot venture. As robots are becoming more capable they will perform increasingly sophisticated tasks and gradually take over many jobs from humans. During their work, they will collect huge amounts of data, about everything , everywhere in the world.

It is not obvious that Google will have access to all this data. Nest for example, has made ​​it clear that the company’s policy on privacy remains firm after the takeover, and that data from thermostats may only be used to ‘improve products and services’.

But Google has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to offer attractive free services where users willingly share their data in exchange for the service.

Added to this is Google’s focus on learning machines and advanced artificial intelligence — most recently through the acquisition of the British AI company Deep Mind for over $2 billion, and also through the recruitment of futurist and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil as chief engineer last year (Ray Kurzweil’s latest book is called How to Create a Mind).

If it is possible to develop an artificial consciousness in a machine, one may ask how far such a consciousness reaches. One way to respond–which I touched in this post–is to relate to a human being that reaches as far as her body and its senses. An artificial consciousness would then by analogy be limited to the sensors it controls in order to collect data.

Google is then in a good position. And though I don’t believe that Google has any evil plans at all, this scares me far more than the surveillance in which NSA and other intelligence agencies are engaged, combined.

Interception and surveillance will never give nearly as much data about us as Google can get, and it can be regulated. What Google will do with all the data that we willingly share is something no-one else can control.

(This post was also published in Swedish in Ny Teknik).


9 thoughts on “Google’s goal: To control the world’s data

Add yours

    1. Hi Cimpy, sorry for late response. To sum up my impressions – it doesn’t look good. I need more confirmed information though, before following up.

    2. No matter, Mats, I am sure I can wait even 5 years if needed. But do you really need all that tiime to discover out something is really wrong with DFK,and Hyperion?…
      You know it was – and it is – nothing else than a Hoax, despite announcements, investments (do you remember how much it was?), trustness of people involved, professors and scientists assuring it was real…

    3. @Cimpy. I’ve had strong doubts towards Defkalion all the time, but I wouldn’t claim hoax or fraud until it’s proven, and I’m not in the position to prove that.

    4. @cimpy I cannot comment on what contacts I have, but in any case, a phone conversation is no proof.

    5. Of course. But Gamberale could tell you about the trick everyone (including believer like the ones in 22 passi) seems to know except you and AlainCo. Or you could dimpky ask him names of those who really tested the Hyperion in Milan, and speak with them. I am sure they could send you a nice picture showing the trick on going.
      It is a physic one, no electric device is needed. You do not even need to push a button, and that is really nice: no one can tell you you lied or have been fraudulent – the top someone could say is that those who sweared it worked were ignorants – damnly ignorants, but who is not on old and new physic? Ehy, c’mon, they will just beg your pardon for a small mistake on a flow and unexpected reflow, and that would be all, there is no need at all to ask for a law pursuit on scammers for a so small mistake, is not so, Mats?
      By the way, any news on R6? Would you bet it could work on the basis of a different trick?

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