Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Scienta est Potentia, Google est Scienta

Does Tessier Ashpool SA ring a bell? Well, it should. It is the name of one of the mega corporations in William Gibson's "Neuromancer" In a quite dystopian setting it is mega corporations that have real power on earth (and beyond).

In our present day we also see the rise of mega corporations, large industrial conglomerates spreading their tentacles into this world. For now, they are just companies, focussed on profits, but according to trendwatcher Adjiedj Bakas who predicts the future will see global mega companies turning into sovereign states.

Google Flu Trends

With the above in mind, I just came across a report on a new Google service which kind of scares me.

GOOGLE will launch a new tool that will help federal officials "track sickness"."

Flu Trends" uses search terms that people put into the web giant to figure out where influenza is heating up, and will notify the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in real time!

GOOGLE, continuing to work closely with government, claims it would keep individual user data confidential: "GOOGLE FLU TRENDS can never be used to identify individual users because we rely on anonymized, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur each week."

Engineers will capture keywords and phrases related to the flu, including thermometer, flu symptoms, muscle aches, chest congestion and others.

Dr. Lyn Finelli, chief of influenza surveillance at CDC: "One thing we found last year when we validated this model is it tended to predict surveillance data. The data are really, really timely. They were able to tell us on a day-to-day basis the relative direction of flu activity for a given area. They were about a week ahead of us. They could be used... as early warning signal for flu activity."

Eric Schmidt, GOOGLE's chief executive vows: "From a technological perspective, it is the beginning."

Thomas Malone, professor at M.I.T.: "I think we are just scratching the surface of what's possible with collective intelligence."

Read Full Report at Drudge Report.

Scientia est potentia

In plain English this means knowledge is power. The Google octopus is slowly speading its tentacles into every corner of digital data, creating access to unprecedented amounts of corporate and private knowledge. Creating access, not only opening up access to this knowledge to the public, but also acquiring this knowledge itself more or less, comprising it into a collective intelligence.

Does this mean that when Google holds the key to the knowledge of the world, Google holds the key to the seats of power in this world as well?

GOOGLE, continuing to work closely with government, claims it would keep individual user data confidential:

This specific sentence should turn on the alarmbells. We've fought so hard to tear down the walls of domination from Microsoft, sueing them in every way to prevent them from gaining market domination. Yet when Google is working closely with governments, will it make those governments blind to the level of domination Google already has?

Labels: , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home