Wednesday, January 9, 2008

iDrone reprint: On Google's Evilness

[This is a reprint from iDrone, written by John P sometime in 2006]

There’s been a fair amount of talk lately about Google’s evilness. Google co-founder Sergey Brin recently admitted that with regards to the censorship issue, Google slid a bit closer to the Dark Side. Meanwhile Lore Sj√∂berg at Wired News ponders ways that Google could be more evil.

All this got me thinking about various philosophical questions regarding Google. For example:

  1. If Google caves in to the censors in China, it becomes more evil. But what if it were to use such a deal to get a stronger foothold, then turn the tables at some crucial point and suddenly supply mainland China with a regime-horrifying massage dose of truth? Is backstabbing the evil another act of evil or an act of virtue?

  2. What if Google totally stood up to China, and got the boot as a result? This would obviously be deemed by most as a virtuous deed. Everyone in China, however, would be really pissed about being denied Google. They might be forced to turn to government-sanctioned alternatives, thus causing a surge in the competition. But that would be an overall increase in evil, right?

  3. If Google were then to launch a grassroots cyber-subversion campaign, it would garner tremendous support. If the Google uber-brain and global resources were applied to this problem, who knows how poewrful it could be. But how would the world react? What could China do? Would some see this as evil hegemony?

  4. What if Google, with its information domination, really were that powerful? What if China reached a critical point in its history with regards to availability of information that certain actions on Google’s part could change—dare I say topple?—a regime? Would Google be evil to act on it, or to not act on it? Who would make such a call?

These are all pretty wild fantasies, but when it comes to evil, some pretty wild stuff can occur. (You know, sharks with lasers and the like.)

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