I'm shouting at garden gnomes, aren't I? I offer post after pithy post warning the world about the coming cyborg Armageddon, but no one listens. Instead, we continue to march toward extinction with complacent smiles on our faces, like the dodos of old. That is, if dodos could smile, which we'll never know for sure because they're all dead -- extinct, which is where we're headed pretty soon. But unlike the dodo, we've deliberately done it to ourselves, with a good deal of effort, creative intelligence, and VC funding.
No, I'm not talking a about terrorist with dirty bombs, biochem warfare, or the coming Zuckerbergian nuclear winter. I'm talking, of course, about Google.
[ Google? Evil? You have no idea. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. | Can we talk? Send your tech war story to email@example.com and get a $50 AmEx gift cheque if InfoWorld publishes it. We're all ears! ]
It's not enough that the company is actively researching ways to make robots look and act in a manner that doesn't scare humans. ("Nothing to fear, sir. Climb into the compactor and everything will be all right.") Nor is it a matter of Google pairing its research with an artificial intelligence project, DeepMind, a name that sounds like a Stan Lee nightmare looking to slaughter the X-Men. And let's not mention that it'll be combined with drone wings, spy cameras, and market data intelligence, all of which will be easily leveraged by government spooks and middle-school hackers for fun, profit, and smug superiority. No, let's pretend none of this is a bad idea. We'll simply forge ahead.
That's how Google Glass got started. This semi-intelligent wearable popped into being without anyone momentarily wondering whether it was a good idea. Today it can make you look hyperdorky, keep you constantly in touch with information you don't need, track your whereabouts to a three-foot radius, and get you ridiculed on "The Daily Show," but tomorrow it'll read your mind.
From humble beginnings the MindRDR menace grew
That's right. In a move that drips with ominous historical foreshadowing, some engineering pinheads in England put on stunningly, amazingly, unbelievably effective long-term blinders and invented MindRDR, a technology that helps Google Glass (a) look even more demented and (b) read your thoughts.
Oh wait, that's not true. Company spokespeople are quick to point out it's not actually reading thoughts, just your brain waves because those two things are far apart -- so far apart, there's no need to worry what MindRDR might be used for 10 years down the road ... or one year. Or tomorrow. Or right now but we can't tell you because the CIA and Google made us promise.
Today, the company tells us MindRDR lets you snap pictures by thinking about it, then post those photos to Twitter by thinking about it a little harder. (On the bright side, this means your in-laws won't be able to post pictures to Twitter.) But if you truly, honestly believe the technology will stop at Twitter, then you belong in the trashcan of history with the Maginot Line and Kim Kardashian's self-respect. This isn't Google Glass anymore -- it's Google Gouge.