As you may or may not be aware, Google has recently announced it’s entrance into the free email market, most likely a direct response to the increasing competition from Internet portal giant Yahoo and Software behemoth Microsoft. While Yahoo offers 10 megs with it’s free account and Microsoft’s Hotmail offers a measely 2 megs, Google has promised one Gig (1024 megs) of space to retain emails online. Along with what will probably be an inovative and intuitive user interface, Google will serve up advertisements based on keywords in your messages. This move, of course, has privacy advocates in an uproar. Accusations of Big Brother and 1984 have been bandied about the internet faster than links to Janet Jackson’s nipplegate.
What a load of bullshit.
First of all, this is a FREE service. Nobody at Google is holding a gun to your head demanding that you sign up or you’ll be forced to endure your worst fears. You’re perfectly entitled to continue using your Yahoo or crappy Hotmail (2 megs! Goddamn!), and if you’re so incensed about the whole affair you can use their patently inferior search engines as well. Myself, I’ve always been a fan of Google, pretty much since it came out. In the software and system administration industry there is nothing like being able to enter an error message or a search string of keywords and being able to find a solution in a matter of minutes. Google allows people to learn faster and to attain a higher level of Quality in their work. Their corporate motto of ‘Do no evil’ is beautiful in it’s simplicity – they know the power at their disposal and how easy it would be to taint their wonderful database and reap huge profits. Yet they don’t. Things like this are what make me trust Google.
Secondly, we’re not talking about some egghead at Google’s headquarters sniffing through your personal emails finding ads to correlate with keywords, we’re talking about software here. This is rudimentary AI which has absolutely no interest in your interest in advanced dildonics or who you think is going to win the Stanley Cup. It’s going to put up ads that are context sensitive to keywords in your email, but it is just an ‘it’. It’s not a person. It’s not your mother. It’s not the government. It’s Google. Google hasn’t failed me yet, so why would I start doubting now?
At the end of the day, it’s YOUR choice to sign up or NOT to sign up. For me, the thought of having a gig of email space online at my disposal is titillating. Now I have a ‘deep storage’ for all my really important emails, a place where I can send something and not have to worry about my account expiring after a month (hopefully!). My only question is why aren’t the foraying into the IM market? When will that happen?
I do have one fear, and it is something I’ve been mulling for about a year now. With all of the rumours over the last while about Google going public, what will that do to their corporate motto? Will it be modified to ‘Do no evil unless it interferes with shareholder profits’? Going public is a dangerous thing. At once they become responsible not just for themselves, but also for sustained economic growth in order to satisfy the needs of the mutual funds, the day traders and all the others who want their little piece of Google. What happens when times are tight? If Google is private, hopefully they’ll be able to restructure and weather the storm, possibly with some layoffs. If they’re public, shareholder panic will force massive selloffs and a rapid deflation in stock value. In order to prevent this ‘financial catastrophe’, Google will probably bend the rules, tell little white lies, everything that we’ve come to know and love about corporate America. What then becomes of Google?
Taking care of Google is something that we should all really be concerned with. Why is that? Well let me ask you this – why does this company need over a hundred PhD’s? You may think I’m a conspiracy theorist, but with basically most of the knowledge of the world as it’s nursery what better place is there to grow the worlds first true AI? AI will be powerful. It will be scary. It will be wonderful. One thing I know is that I’d rather have AI working to find me better answers in life than to try and skin as much money out of me as possible.