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Google, Inc. knows more about me than I do. Even the people I am closest to in my life don’t know as much as Google does. I use Google Search, Google Adsense, Gmail, Google Reader, Google Calendar, YouTube and occasionally Google Notebook and Google Bookmarks. Google knows where I live, where I am most of the time (calendar), my SIN card number, my banking information, my real name, my friends, my interests, my hobbies, and my love of lavish dwarf entertainment. All in all, Google knows a terrifying amount and I’m wary of any organization knowing that much about me. In dystopian science fiction, the government is often portrayed as a Big Brother knowing every private detail about their citizens and we usually shudder in fear, but I’ve given all this information up to an entity who’s sole purpose is to make money and has made some vague claim to not being evil. I want to discuss three possible products that we might see coming up: Google OmniAds, Google BlackMail, and Google PreCrime.
Google doesn’t have to try hard to find out what sort of products or services I’m interested in based on what I search for, what ads I click on, what I write about on my blog, what I write emails about, etc. It could also quickly generate a profile of what my “hot buttons” are (loss of control or hair, for example) and create ads that are 95% effective. Instead of having ads based on the context of the page, have ads based on the psychographic buying profile of the person doing the web surfing. Enter Google OmniAds. Google knows everything about me and will have 95% influence on my buying decisions with ads like, “Losing your hair? Try lavish dwarf entertainment!”. The scary thing is, I might actually like that.
There’s a lot of “sensitive” emails I’ve stored in my GMail inbox, as well as “sensitive” google searches. My searches for ninja-pirate lovin’ videos, for example. Any number of those emails–if they got out–could seriously hurt my reputation as a fine upstanding gentleman among my nearest and dearest as well as potential employers. So, what’s a giant corporation geared towards profit to do? Start blackmailing people with their knowledge of your affairs, or that person you killed and just how much you liked Barbie’s Unicorn Adventure. Google would do it classy, too. No clandestine letters cut out from newspapers and magazines. You’d get your own BlackMail representative who will work with you to work out a good amount of money in exchange for keeping their mouth shut. Letting out information of your distinctly unmasculine love for hair braiding may cost as little as $100 to bury forever, but that time you searched drunkenly for Ukranian mail-order brides despite being married may cost as much as $100,000. It would be egalitarian, of course, and you would pay as much as you could afford. This would quickly become the most lucrative division of Google, Inc.
Google exclusively hires very, very smart people. All it needs to do is throw in a few good psychologists, write some programs that comb their data for specific personality markers as well as any emails saying, “tomorrow we bomb the white house” and you’ve got yourself the ability to predict crime. It doesn’t have to be big-time crime, either; theft of stationary from offices causes more than ten billion dollars of losses a year, and I’m sure someone out there is bragging about stealing that stapler before they got fired. I wonder how long it’ll be before the government orders Google to start running these search patterns on their data and identifying potential threats. Oh wait…