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Are we using Google? Or is Google using us?

Like much of the online world, I’m in an ongoing state of conflict with my reliance on Google. I don’t want my entire digital life tied into one tool…and yet the tools Google makes generally exceed the functionality of competitors. And so I often drink from the brew where privacy, functionality, and principle blend seamlessly. Several years ago, I was on a panel at Milken Institute. One of my panel members – at that time just coming off of a research position at Microsoft – stated that once people realized what Google does with data, they would leave in droves. I argued that people, when forced to choose, will almost always select convenience/functionality at the expense of privacy. So far, I’ve been right. Both Google and Facebook are strong indicators of this choice for functionality. Sure, Beacon crashed, but only because users weren’t lulled into it. Give it a few years. Beacon will exist under a different name and will be viewed as novel and innovative.

A short account (fictitious) of what’s happening – Are we using Google? Or is Google using us?: “Harvest all the data in the world, rendering all available answers accessible to all possible questions, and then reinforce the meaningful associations while letting the meaningless ones die out. Since, by diagonal argument in the scale of possible infinities, there will always be more questions than answers, it is better to start by collecting the answers, and then find the questions, rather than the other way around.”

Somewhat clever twist of concepts to conclude the article…