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Re: Google’s Just Gone Officially Creepy

On Sun, Oct 10, 2010 at 4:17 PM, Murani Lewis wrote without thinking too hard:

Secretly testing an automated vehicle is the latest and creepiest thing Google has done.  I’m talking about George Orwell 1984 Big Brother is Watching You creepy.  For a company who championed the “do no evil” mantra they sure do seem to have their hand in alot of less than desirable situations.


The only less than desirable thing I’m seeing here is your spelling and a cloud of suspicion regarding whether or not you actually read 1984 or just like to throw around the title blithely.

In addition to a copilot riding shotgun keeping tabs on the navigation gadgetry, there was a man, part man part hawk, with a perfect driving record and a lot to lose behind the wheels of the vehicles which were equipped with Google’s response to the cruise control stick already plaguing many post-Orwellian vehicles, a system, though slightly more sophisticated, that’s equally easily and instantly overridden were the mood ever to strike the driver.

Thousands and thousands of miles driven, maybe a million cumulatively (?), both autonomously and supervised without a single incident other than an after the fact blog post and getting rear ended once while stationary at a red light. I didn’t google the numbers (I’m about 40k feet high atm) but I’d bet green money there has never been this many miles driven on public streets at whatever mileage they got in their time frame, nor will there be until Google keeps on rolling with this.

Please tell me what is undesirable about cars being able to travel more safely down highways very closely to one another, dramatically beefing up our thruway throughput, far fewer accidents (and in the event of one, no rubbernecking) and finally equalizing men and women automotively. Noteworthy steps, to understate this, were just made in that direction.

Where is the creepy icky evil in that? Perhaps you simply get creeped out easily when the appropriate human response would be to note that your mind has been blown? Are you not used to a company keeping such major innovation quiet successfully? Maybe you’re just not used to such innovation, below or above the radar. Or maybe that Google has apparently pulled this off using, among other things, crowdsourcing (oh no!) instead of secretly laying down grooved slot car tracks across a bunch of highways and roads late at night when no one would notice, ninja style. I’m trying to imagine a paranoid mindset about this, really trying to get into it, but whatever spookiness there may be about this is nothing compared to being a passenger in the car of person whose gender I won’t mention when she’s trying to merge onto a highway without this system.

To me, here’s the kicker, and a motif to much of what they’ve done: Google, while in the middle of juggling a lot of other operations and legal snafus, gets another idea one day which sounded pretty good when they spitballed it around, something of theoretical potential, but one involving a ton of time and money, talent recruitment, with possible if not probable failure (given the DARPA desert adventures‘ tribulations). They had a rush of determination facing a challenge to create something right-sounding (read: badass) but they had, and maybe still have, no idea if or how there would ever be any return on the investment but “What the hell let’s do it anyway and see what happens.”

That’s how Google rolls, rolling further on by a company who thinks the world needs another mobile platform more than this sort of technology, and that’s got a lot to do with what I love about Google.

According to the New York Times, there’s an aggressiveness knob in these puppies you know.

Doug Simmons