Google’s Technological Stranglehold

Posted: April 5, 2012 by jerkmagblog in VAULT -- archives

An entry from a couple of weeks ago featured a billboard which played advertisements based on the viewer’s gender. And now, Google is trying to implement a type of advertising based on weather. In order for this to work, Google would essentially have some sort of sensory control over your cell phone in order to know what kind of weather you are in, and advertise to you accordingly. If it’s raining out, you will be directed to the nearest umbrella store. While this is yet another entry on advertising related technology, in my opinion, there is much more to it. As an idea, yes it’s very interesting. However, there is a lot more to read into this regarding the future of our own lives and the control that we will allow to give technology.

First off, Google has a lot of control over online content already, and it’s curious that they are contemplating the possibility of branching out to the offline world. But this is bigger than Google. The fascinating thing is the direction that technology is going. Even the release of Siri with the iPhone 4S is just the stepping stone, an almost foreshadowing, to a world absolutely conquered with technology. At the moment, we have a great amount of control over our iPhone simply with our voices. It’s not unrealistic to think that this kind of technology will be pushed very far in the future. I almost feel like there is a huge mind set difference between our generation and the ones before. Our grandparents, or even our parents, might think that it’s impossible and unnecessary for a laptop to get thinner, or the internet to get faster: they are satisfied with what they have, and believe technology has come really far as it is. However, as a generation which saw amazing leaps in technology in the last two decades, the possibilities seem endless. Creating a billboard that recognizes your face, or a advertisement based on the weather are small steps to very big things that may one day be extremely normal in our day to day lives. I had referenced Minority Report before, and Andrew Alton, a patent lawyer from a UK based law firm also describes, “There are elements of things from the film Minority Report happening in the real world right now… Lodging patents on stuff you are already doing puts you behind the times. To guess what will happen next, to step back and look at the next generation of products is what puts you in a dominant position.”

But how far is too far? Will we have a chip in our mouths one day where we can simply talk and Siri will pick up what we’re saying? With Facebook, we already have very little control over our online personalities, how much control do we want to give to technology in the real world? Regarding Google’s idea, Gus Hosein, the director of Privacy International, was not impressed. In his opinion, Google already controls so much of our online identity. Websites like Facebook can use our personal information in order to have advertisements that are relevant to the user. However, this is beyond an advertisement, and Mr. Gus believes that Google is pretty much creating a ‘spyin device’ out of your gadget. “This is an attempt to turn our devices into personal spying devices, just so a company can try to sell you a coat on a cold day.”, he explained. While a little extreme, this is still one way of looking at things. Google is apparently very excited about the realization of the patent. However, Mr. Gus represents the debate of how far technology can go, and more importantly, should go. In his statement, he was also very clear about the fact that while patents may be given out, it does not mean that they will be actually come into fruition.

-Can Cakmak

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