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Google: Friend or Foe (3) – The unquenchable quest for more … of you

Google: Friend or Foe (3) – The unquenchable quest for more … of you

Welcome to Part 3 of my blog series about Google. If you have not read my first post, I’d recommend reading Google: Friend or Foe Part 1 and 2 before continuing.

What type of threat do companies like Google pose?

First, I think one threat tech companies pose is rooted in their surveillance business models, data collection, in addition to outside business relationships with governments (foreign and domestic) and other third parties. How will they use data? We’ve already seen the privacy issues, subsequent lawsuits and investigations.

Case in point, ten years ago China executed a state-sponsored cyber attack against Google and other large businesses. Many believe the attack was a response to Google’s decision to stop offering their search engine in the Chinese market due to human rights concerns. In addition the totalitarian communist state wanted to censor, monitor and limit Google search results. This began an interesting relationship between Google and the NSA (National Security Agency).
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Once you investigate links with China, you will discover Google’s “Dragonfly” project. In a 2018, article from Just Security entitled, “Google’s Dragonfly: A Bellwether for Human Rights in the Digital Age”

“This “history” throws yesterday’s news about Google’s secret “Dragonfly” project, a search engine that will meet Beijing’s demands for censorship, into disturbing relief. Ever since 2010, the Chinese government has never quite gotten over the rebuke leveled against it by an uppity Western ICT company, which in retrospect clearly discredited the government on the world stage. Google took the type of action in support of human rights that few governments, let alone the private sector, would dare attempt. Of course, the Chinese government viewed the incident as a threat to regime control …. But, in the end, the Chinese government merely had to wait its challenger out, and all would be well.”

“Resisting no longer makes any business sense when the laws and policies of your country of origin and other active markets begin to resemble those of the country from which you withdrew.”
[source link]

On the home front, if you want to explore Google’s U.S. partnerships with government agencies, political groups, nonprofits and the like, check out their ‘Transparency’ page.
[source link]

Another interesting article was written by Harvard Law Review in 2018 entitled, “Cooperation or Resistance?: The Role of Tech Companies in Government Surveillance”
[source link]

Second, I think the biggest threat comes from the Social Engineering aspect of Google’s capabilities.

Remember, social engineering is used to manipulate people. When your platform is capable of shaping thought, behavior follows. Behind every artifact or innovation is a worldview – a philosophy of the person or group that created it. What is this artifact or innovation for? What is its purpose?

What is the dominant philosophy behind driving the current and future business model at Google? Does the philosophy view humans as dignified individuals or machines or something else? What are the political and economic philosophies expressed through search algorithms and social engineering.

Video: Dr. Robert Epstein answers questions from Senate Judiciary, Hearing on Google and Censorship

Everything is fine when the people at the top are of goodwill toward their fellow humans. However, when organizations and their partners become self-serving, abusive or tyrannical, a perceived threat becomes real. Individual lives and whole societies will be impacted.

I don’t think we fully understand the power and implications of these technologies.

When a company makes profits by collecting, organizing and manipulating the personal data of billions of people we must attempt to understand potential threats and risks involved. In the wrong hands, these powerful tools can cause great harm or be misused to the detriment of humanity.

At the end of the day, Google is able to curate your internet experience to the places Google wants you to go. It controls what you see and what you don’t see. In other words, Google can herd people where they want them to go through powerful algorithms. Because Google has millions of data points on billions of individuals, Google’s powerful AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology can predict your behavior with creepy accuracy. If Google can tell you where to find the information you think you are looking for but Google wants to to see and what to buy, it can tell you what to say and think. It already does.

Without anyone knowing, Google is shaping the worldview of billions of people. The question is what is the shape of the worldview Google intends for users? How will Google treat worldviews that counter it’s own? Shaping thought can be beneficial but that is what parents, teachers, mentors, artists and leaders do – not tech companies.

The First of the Ten Commandments is; “…You shall have no other gods before me”. After digging into the tech giant’s business model, activates, partnerships and philosophy, I believe Google’s first commandment is “You shall have no other gods but Google.” Think about it.

After reading this series of posts, are you seeing a general theme?

What can we do about it?

  1. Don’t just take my word for it, do your own research.
  2. Take a technology inventory. List all of the technology devices and platforms connected to you and your family.
  3. Take Steps to protect online privacy for you and your family. Seven Simple Steps Toward Online Privacy
  4. Be vigilant – Don’t allow the lure of convenience to overrule your personal convictions in regard to technology.

Read previous post: Google: Friend or Foe – Part 2
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Apple Sauce 2: Success and Upgrade Fatigue

Posted September 6, 2012: In last week’s post, “Apple Sauce: Vanilla Ice’s Advice to Apple” we discussed Apple’s ability to remain a Game Changer in the absence of iconic rebel-leader, Steve Jobs who lead with ‘WHY’ and challenging the status quo. Today, we’re going to dive a little deeper into the organization, including an exclusive interview with a veteran Apple team member.

Success:
“When the rhetoric of success (“We’re successful because we do these specific things”) replaces penetrating understanding and insight (“We’re successful because we understand WHY we do these specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work”), decline will very likely follow.” –Jim Collins (How the Mighty Fall)

We must ask ourselves a question. Was Apple’s success driven by creating innovative products or something intangible that compelled people to join their tribe and buy their innovative products? In an interview with the Telegraph UK, Apple’s chief designer Sir Jonathan Ive (creator of the iPad and iPhone) said this; “Our goal and what gets us excited is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful people will like them, and if we are operationally competent we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal.” That statement does not echo ‘Think Different’ or challenging the status quo. (more…)

Apple Sauce: Vanilla Ice’s Advice to Apple

Posted August 29, 2012: Have you heard the news? iPhone 5 is being released this fall! Before you run out and get in line at the Apple Store, you must know that a new version of iPhone will probably be released before Christmas. Let’s not forget about the new iPad!

I have been an Apple (Mac) junkie since my freshman year at college (1993). I’m astonished when I reflect on the impact Apple has had over the last 30 years. I’ve owned almost every type of Apple device and made good money on Apple stock (that I wished I held on to, but that is for another day).

I recently visited the Apple Store and had one of the most frustrating customer experiences I have ever had. I shared this with a few family members and two of them had similar experiences. The experience was very un-Apple like.

I asked myself, “What if Steve Jobs was watching our Apple experiences, what would he think”? (more…)

Dude, it’s not a phone

Sunday night I saw one of my favorite bands, Phish perform live at Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. It was a fantastic show. The sound quality was amazing! I was VIP and had full stage access for their entire performance. I did not have to pay for tickets or fight the crowds of soap dodgers. I had a glass of my favorite wine and slept in the comfort of my own bed after the show. How did I accomplish this? Well, the story begins 20 years ago.

In 1991 I got my first car and my first cell phone. The car was a 1966 Mustang and the cell phone came in briefcase weighing about 20 lbs. I thought it was pretty cool at the time. Since then, I have owned over a dozen cell phones and/or smart phones.

Boy, was I wrong…
When cell phone companies decided to place cameras on cell phones, I remember thinking that the idea of a camera phone was stupid. Who wants a camera phone? It made no sense at the time. Boy, was I wrong!

When cell phone companies added ‘texting’ to phone capabilities, I remember thinking that texting is a waste of time. Why text, when I can call? Boy was I wrong! (more…)