Is Google Evil now?
Don’t be evil sounds like the type of moral lesson you’d find in a bargain basement bible. It is basic, is delivered without panache, and contains no deeper meaning beyond its slap you in the face bluntness. Rather than being the words of a second-rate preacher, Don’t be evil has for a long time been the Code of Conduct for Google, the company that effectively owns the internet.
Now Don’t be evil sounds good, but it is subjective. It is open to interpretation. It is up to whoever is reading it to decide what is evil and then avoid acting in such a manner. If Google doesn’t think acting like a monopoly is evil, then Google is free to act like a Monopoly and follow unfair business practices, as it has done many times since its inception.
Coming from this angle, maybe we shouldn’t be too alarmed that Google has decided to remove Don’t be evil from its code of conduct. Does it mean that Google is going to start being evil or does it simply mean that it was never meant to be more than marketing? An empty phrase designed to let us know that Google is the good guys. The new code of conduct wants to be more than mere fluff:
“The Google Code of Conduct is one of the ways we put Google’s values into practice. It’s built around the recognition that everything we do in connection with our work at Google will be, and should be, measured against the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct. We set the bar that high for practical as well as aspirational reasons: Our commitment to the highest standards helps us hire great people, build great products, and attract loyal users. Respect for our users, for the opportunity, and for each other are foundational to our success, and are something we need to support every day.”
It is a bit beefier and explicitly mentions respect for users, which could be a good thing. The lack of Don’t evil, however, could also provide the wiggle room needed for Google to continue working on dark and sinister projects like US government sponsored AI- weaponization or the unsettling project we’ll talk about shortly…
The AI we deserve…
AI bots are everywhere these days and can talk about all sorts. You have bots that’ll tell you jokes and riddles, cats that’ll tell you about the weather, AI customer service bots, etc. Bots are taking over, and as Google Duplex shows, soon they’ll be talking to us as well as typing.
Are bots useful though? Sure it is “impressive” that a bot can sound like a human, but is it a revolution to ask Google Assistant for the week’s weather rather just asking Google as you have done for years?
No, for us, we think there is still a long way to go before we start delegating our daily tasks to the big brain in the cloud. What we do like, however, are the ridiculous bots. The ones that don’t make any sense and don’t claim to either. Let us introduce you then to our new favorite bot. The fun Fearless Fake Fanta bot.
With over 50 fake Fantas to its name so far, including gems like Communist Blowfish Fanta and British dog Fanta, there is a lot of fun to be had with this purveyor of fake fizzy pop variations. Fanta flavors are a subjective affair of course, so everybody has their own favorite. Mine might be Jealous Unicorn Fanta, but yours could be completely different. Check out the Fake Fanta bot and let us know your favorite in the comments below.
Use your phone too much? There is an app for that.
Have you ever noticed at the airport whenever you have a digital boarding pass the attendant will make you scan it yourself? They never want to touch your phone unless they have gloves on. That is because smartphones are disgusting these days. People are addicted to their smartphones and take them with them everywhere, including the bathroom. We need to do something to tackle smartphone addiction.
Of course, there is an app for that. There is a smartphone app to help you fight your smartphone addiction. You couldn’t make it up.
Siempo tries to calm everything down. Your smartphone is like a shop window for all those developers who’ve convinced you to download their app. Everything on your screen is designed to catch your eye and draw you in. It is no wonder you are addicted to smartphones when even app icons have been designed to stop you switching off. Siempo counters this by showing you a plain screen with plain app icons.
Another Siempo feature is that you can group notifications. Rather than constantly being buzzed you can ask Siempo only to let you know about app notifications at certain times of the day. This’ll mean your smartphone won’t constantly be trying to grab your attention even when it is in your pocket.
Siempo started out as a smartphone, but lack of interest meant it never made it to market. An app is much cheaper to develop for a wider release, though, so here we are. If you think you use your phone too much, it could be worth checking out.
Is this Google’s scary endgame?
We know that Silicon Valley big tech companies are spying on us. Data is the new oil as they say. Do we care though? Probably not, but a leaked video from Google could set your alarm bells ringing or at least have the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end.
The Selfish Ledger asks whether data is like the DNA of our behavior. Does the data determine our behavior? It posits the question whether our data belongs to us. If our data was available to future generations, think of the good it can do.
The problem with hypotheses like this one is they inevitably end up attacking free will. The algorithms that use our data begin making decisions for us rather than just advising us on the best course of action; they become sovereign.
The Selfish Ledger points all of this out in a startlingly blunt fashion. The app at the heart of your existence, known as your ledger, influences your behavior so that it can collect the data it needs to make better decisions. It can even create new products to help it do so and then purchase them on your behalf.
Google says that the Selfish Ledger is no more than an old design concept that is supposed to be disturbing. It claims that it isn’t related to any current or future Google products. Google’s very lifeblood, however, is our data and with being evil now on the table at Google HQ who is to say that Google isn’t lying to us? Check out the video and let us know what you think.