As Google Gets Smarter, are We Getting Dumber?
Google's gazillionaire co-founder Sergey Brin said yesterday "we want Google to be the third half of your brain." But at the rate Google is going they'll soon form all three halves.
As you know, Google announced last week Google Instant, which predicts your search queries before you type them. Rather than having to construct an entire query all by yourself, you can now type a couple of letters and then choose from the options Google presents to you.
Google Instant comes immediately after the launch of Google Scribe, which is a kind of Google instant for writing, rather than search. It works inside online e-mail and browser-based applications like word processing applications.
Within a period of a couple of days, Google has replaced what for many may be the last creative act -- the construction of search queries and the contrivance of phrases, sentences and paragraphs -- with another process of selecting from available choices.
People these days, especially young people, live in a copy-and-paste world. Music is "sampled." Jeans come pre-faded and pre-ripped -- kids buy their rebellion at the mall. Many college students don't view the construction of research papers from copied and pasted Wikipedia entries as an act of plagiarism. Sometimes I wonder if young people even know what creativity is.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently hinted at his company's grand vision for the future of search, which involves Google giving you search results before you even think you want to search. The idea is that as you walk around your mobile device interrupts you and tells you what it thinks you will want to know. You won't Google it. Google will Google you!
There's been a lot of press lately about whether the Internet is making us dumber. I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more of that, thanks to Google's new initiatives.
Mind you, I'm not blaming Google. In fact, it's refreshing to see the company innovating in a big way again. But I can't help wonder, given our dependence on Google and competitive products, if we'll get dumber as our online applications get smarter.
This is something for Google to think about for us.