Your Big Brother could be evil if he wanted to be
“Don’t be evil,” says Google, but after reading Googling Security by Conti, I expect the temptations have got to be unreal.
I read on John Battelle’s blog that Google is now allowing users to change the information that comes up in “vanity searches.” The price is that you must have a Google profile. And the ranking of the “yous” will be affected by how complete your user profile is.
Google, and other online advertisers, expect to make money by knowing you better. Google wants to know you really really well.
The implications are scary in a Big Brother, Hal, Skynet, AI sort of way.
As Conti points out repeatedly in his book, the more personalized the online service, the more you hemorrhage potentially sensitive information.
Alright, I am the REAL me, so let’s make sure I’m listed correctly on Google…. These friendly words appear on creating a Google Profile: “The more information you provide, the easier it will be for friends to find you.” TO FIND YOU. That’s sort of frightening in what’s left unsaid. Like maybe not everyone is your friend?
And continuing the profile setup…”Your profile is not yet eligible to be featured in Google search results. To have your profile featured, add more information about yourself.”
I wonder if you can turn this off later? Probably not. And *never* on Google’s servers…. I got freaked out and stopped.
Right now YOU are the STRONG link in connecting your address, your phone, social security, and credit card numbers, your medical and family history, your credit record, how many traffic tickets you’ve received, your personal and your professional online profiles, like your “home” and “work” email accounts, and all the varied and “private” interests you’ve ever shared with the oracle of Google.
The technology exists: it’s no stretch of the imagination at all to contemplate machine-based connection making.
Richard K. Morgan is a science fiction author who does a brilliant job weaving tales of the near, and usually dystopic future. In his novel TH1RTE3N, Morgan describes the AI-empowered n djinns that pull data from “the feeds” to make these sorts of connections. As is typical with a lot of science fiction, the future is now and we’re helping Google to create it.