Eric Schmidt warns Berliners: 'We know where you are'
Be happy, and hand over your memory to Google
Eric Schmidt did his best to raise the bar on his harshest critics yesterday, by telling an audience in Berlin that "we know where you are, we know what you like".
A week after the US www.consumerwatchdog.org launched a campaign portraying Schmidt as a "privacy pervert", the Google CEO chose an audience in Germany to deliver a keynote in which he claimed that we are entering an age of "augmented humanity" thanks to Google.
However, this doesn't sound like the homo superior of Tomorrow People, where human beings gained incredible powers and big buckled belts, or even Bowie's version, were they were at least pretty.
Rather Schmidt drew a future where Google was serving you up search results all the time, localised to where ever you are.
He told his audience, according to TechCrunch, that “ultimately, search is not just the web but literally all of your information – your email, the things you care about, with your permission – this is personal search, for you and only for you”.
“We can suggest what you should do next, what you care about. Imagine: We know where you are, we know what you like," he said, while promising “A near-term future in which you don’t forget anything, because the computer remembers. You’re never lost.”
So it'll be Google that has the incredible powers, serving up "personal search" while the rest of us will presumably be very happy, mainly because Google tells us we are.
Schmidt flagged up some of the upcoming technologies he expects to enable Google to augment reality, sorry, humanity.
This includes the much-flagged Google music service, with Schmidt pointing out that "if it’s not connected to the internet, it just has what’s stored on it" and can't access new music. God forbid that people should want to choose what to download or even leave their sofas to go to a record shop. Or even make their own music.
Schmidt also banged the drum for its mobile operation, saying search traffic from Android phones tripled in the first half. Schmidt has been catfighting with Steve Jobs over mobile activations recently.
But while Google might have the technology when it comes to augmenting humanity, it does seem to have a major deficit on sensitivity.
While Schmidt's recent warblings on people's right to change names to escape their Google profiles caused chuckles and/or rolled eyes, his comments in Germany itself arguably show a stunning lack of political and cultural nous.
Google has been struggling to get Germans to embrace its StreetView operation, displaying remarkable incomprehension that a country that has experienced both the Gestapo and the Stasi in living memory might have qualms about anything that smacks of surveillance.
In March Google chief technology advocate Michael Jones told an audience at Cebit that the firm had been completely taken aback by the German animosity towards StreetView, saying that at Google "We're not all Germans" and couldn't be expected to know the country's own peculiar history.
For Schmidt to follow up six months later by telling Germans, "we know where you are...[and] what you like" and that "memory" should be given over to Google's algorithms and servers suggests that the firm could do with augmenting some of the humans in Mountain View before it even thinks of having a go at the rest of us. ®
The title is required
"A near-term future in which you don’t forget anything, because the computer remembers. You’re never lost.”
Yeah wonderful, no surprises, no initiative, no adventure, nothing new because Google has already told you all about it. Sounds like hell to me.
"at Google "We're not all Germans" and couldn't be expected to know the country's own peculiar history."
I would have thought that most people around the world would had heard about what happened by now.
"We can suggest what you should do next, what you care about. Imagine: We know where you are, we know what you like," he said, while promising “A near-term future in which you don’t forget anything, because the computer remembers. You’re never lost.”
One of the greatest thrills in life is finding something unexpected! Quite often I have been browsing in book shops ( harder to find these days! ) and music shops and picked something up, just because the cover was quirky and caught my attention.
Over my 25 odd years in IT I have lost of data through my own stupidity and it caused me to ensure a) I pay more attention next time and b) I may have to re-create or re-obtain things I have lost, often better or improved versions.
I got into my favourite genre of music through a pure accident, a friend's brother was raving about a little known band called Iron Maiden back in 1983, I simply went out and bought an album on a whim never having heard them before and have enjoyed 25 years of the finest music genre there is!
I met my wife through a series of odd "accidents of location", right-place, right-time, having now enjoyed nearly 20 years together I'm glad of it.
My wife hates my music as much as I hate hers, but we have plenty of other shared interests. With Schmitt's wonderful future, we would never have a chance to meet as our "life-maps" would not match!
Accidents often cause things to change, not always for the better, but they almost always change and improve you as a person. Imagine a horrible nightmare where everything in your life is mapped and tracked so you don't have to think much, you never worry about accidents directing you down new avenues or interests.
The universe demands random chance and I refuse to bow down to Google and Schmits nasty little dystopia.