EssentialstheDiagonal is a personal blog by Mike Gerra, skeptic, technologist, psychologist, artist, humanist, collector of grand, eclectic ideas.theDiagonal blog connects the dots across multiple disciplines for inquisitive, objective and critical thinkers, exploring the vertices of big science, disruptive innovation, global sustainability, illuminating literature and leftfield art. It is on this diagonal that creativity thrives, big ideas take flight and reason triumphs.
Tag Archives: Google
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Soon courtesy of Amazon, Google and other retail giants, and of course lubricated by the likes of the ubiquitous UPS and Fedex trucks, you may be able to dispense with the weekly or even daily trip to the grocery store. Amazon is expanding a trial of its same-day grocery delivery service, and others are following suit in select local and regional tests.
You may recall the spectacular implosion of the online grocery delivery service Webvan — a dot.com darling — that came and went in the blink of an internet eye, finally going bankrupt in 2001. Well, times have changed and now avaricious Amazon and its peers have their eyes trained on your groceries.
So now all you need to do is find a service to deliver your kids to and from school, an employer who will let you work from home, convince your spouse that “staycations” are cool, use Google Street View to become a virtual tourist, and you will never, ever, ever, EVER need to leave your house again!
From Slate:...read more
Sunday, April 28, 2013
The collective IQ of Google, the company, inched up a few notches in January of 2013 when they hired Ray Kurzweil. Over the coming years if the work of Kurzweil, and many of his colleagues, pays off the company’s intelligence may surge significantly. This time though it will be thanks to their work on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and (very) big data.
From Technology Review:
When Ray Kurzweil met with Google CEO Larry Page last July, he wasn’t looking for a job. A respected inventor who’s become a machine-intelligence futurist, Kurzweil wanted to discuss his upcoming book How to Create a Mind. He told Page, who had read an early draft, that he wanted to start a company to develop his ideas about how to build a truly intelligent computer: one that could understand language and then make inferences and decisions on its own....read more
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
By all accounts serial entrepreneur, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is Google’s most famous employee, eclipsing even co-founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin. As an inventor he can lay claim to some impressive firsts, such as the flatbed scanner, optical character recognition and the music synthesizer. As a futurist, for which he is now more recognized in the public consciousness, he ponders longevity, immortality and the human brain.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Ray Kurzweil must encounter his share of interviewers whose first question is: What do you hope your obituary will say?
This is a trick question. Mr. Kurzweil famously hopes an obituary won’t be necessary. And in the event of his unexpected demise, he is widely reported to have signed a deal to have himself frozen so his intelligence can be revived when technology is equipped for the job....read more
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Leave it to Google to help you auto-euthanize and die digitally. The presence of our online selves after death was of limited concern until recently. However, with the explosion of online media and social networks our digital tracks remain preserved and scattered across drives and backups in distributed, anonymous data centers. Physical death does not change this.
[A case in point: your friendly editor at theDiagonal was recently asked to befriend a colleague via LinkedIn. All well and good, except that the colleague had passed-away two years earlier.]
So, armed with Google’s new Inactive Account Manager, death — at least online — may be just a couple of clicks away. By corollary it would be a small leap indeed to imagine an enterprising company charging an annual fee to a dearly-departed member to maintain a digital afterlife ad infinitum.
From the Independent:...read more
Saturday, March 23, 2013
At first glance Google’s aim to make all known information accessible and searchable seems to be a fundamentally worthy goal, and in keeping with its “Do No Evil” mantra. Surely, giving all people access to the combined knowledge of the human race can do nothing but good, intellectually, politically and culturally.
However, what if that information includes you? After all, you are information: from the sequence of bases in your DNA, to the food you eat and the products you purchase, to your location and your planned vacations, your circle of friends and colleagues at work, to what you say and write and hear and see. You are a collection of datapoints, and if you don’t market and monetize them, someone else will....read more
Sunday, February 3, 2013
This week Google refreshed its maps of North Korea. What was previously a blank canvas with only the country’s capital — Pyongyang — visible, now boasts roads, hotels, monuments and even some North Korean internment camps. While this is not the first detailed map of the secretive state it is an important milestone in Google’s quest to map us all.
From the Washington Post:
Until Tuesday, North Korea appeared on Google Maps as a near-total white space — no roads, no train lines, no parks and no restaurants. The only thing labeled was the capital city, Pyongyang.
This all changed when Google, on Tuesday, rolled out a detailed map of one of the world’s most secretive states. The new map labels everything from Pyongyang’s subway stops to the country’s several city-sized gulags, as well as its monuments, hotels, hospitals and department stores....read more
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Bored with Google’s homepage? Paranoid over Google’s omniscience? If so, take a break from the omnipresent search engine and visit some of Google’s lesser known relatives. Our two favorites below:
More Google parodies after the jump.
Send to Kindle
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
One hopes that Google’s intention to “organize the world’s information” will remain benign for the foreseeable future. Yet, as more and more of our surroundings and moves are mapped and tracked online, and increasingly offline, it would be wise to remain ever vigilant. Many put up with the encroachment of advertisers and promoters into almost every facet of their daily lives as a necessary, modern evil. But where is the dividing line that separates an ignorable irritation from an intrusion of privacy and a grab for control? For the paranoid amongst us, it may only be a matter of time before our digital footprints come under the increasing scrutiny, and control, of organizations with grander designs.
From the Guardian:
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Google lets the world peek at the many tubes that form a critical part of its search engine infrastructure — functional and pretty too.
From the Independent:
They are the cathedrals of the information age – with the colour scheme of an adventure playground.
For the first time, Google has allowed cameras into its high security data centres – the beating hearts of its global network that allow the web giant to process 3 billion internet searches every day.
Only a small band of Google employees have ever been inside the doors of the data centres, which are hidden away in remote parts of North America, Belgium and Finland.
Their workplaces glow with the blinking lights of LEDs on internet servers reassuring technicians that all is well with the web, and hum to the sound of hundreds of giant fans and thousands of gallons of water, that stop the whole thing overheating....read more
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Google has been variously praised and derided for its corporate manta, “Don’t Be Evil”. For those who like to believe that Google has good intentions recent events strain these assumptions. The company was found to have been snooping on and collecting data from personal Wi-Fi routers. Is this the case of a lone-wolf or a corporate strategy?
Was Google’s snooping on home Wi-Fi users the work of a rogue software engineer? Was it a deliberate corporate strategy? Was it simply an honest-to-goodness mistake? And which of these scenarios should we wish for—which would assuage your fears about the company that manages so much of our personal data?
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Since mid-2007 the restless nine-eyed cameras of Google Street View have been snapping millions, if not billions, of images of the world’s streets.
The mobile cameras with 360 degree views, perched atop Google’s fleet of specially adapted vehicles, have already covered most of North America, Brazil, South Africa, Australia and large swathes of Europe. In roaming many of the world roadways Google’s cameras have also snapped numerous accidental images: people caught unaware, car accidents, odd views into nearby buildings, eerie landscapes.
Regardless of the privacy issues here, the photographs make for some fascinating in-the-moment art. A number of enterprising artists and photographers have included some of these esoteric Google Street View “out-takes” into their work. A selection from Jon Rafman below. See more of his and Google’s work here.
Send to Kindle
Friday, December 23, 2011
Memory is, well, so 1990s. Who needs it when we have Google, Siri and any number of services to help answer and recall everything we’ve ever perceived and wished to remember or wanted to know. Will our personal memories become another shared service served up from the “cloud”?
From the Wilson Quarterly:
In an age when most information is just a few keystrokes away, it’s natural to wonder: Is Google weakening our powers of memory? According to psychologists Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University, Jenny Liu of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and Daniel M. Wegner of Harvard, the Internet has not so much diminished intelligent recall as tweaked it....read more
Sunday, December 4, 2011
According to the infographic below Google had revenues of $29.3 billion in 2010. Not bad! Interestingly, that’s more than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the world’s 28 poorest nations.
Infographic courtesy of MBA.org / dailyinfographic.
Send to Kindle
Monday, October 10, 2011
Google’s oft quoted corporate mantra — do no evil — reminds us to remain vigilant even if the company believes it does good and can do no wrong.
Google serves up countless search results to ease our never-ending thirst for knowledge, deals, news, quotes, jokes, user manuals, contacts, products and so on. This is clearly of tremendous benefit to us, to Google and to Google’s advertisers. Of course in fulfilling our searches Google collects equally staggering amounts of information — about us. Increasingly the company will know where we are, what we like and dislike, what we prefer, what we do, where we travel, with whom and why, how our friends are, what we read, what we buy....read more
Monday, September 6, 2010
From The New York Times:
“I ACTUALLY think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions,” said the search giant’s chief executive, Eric Schmidt, in a recent and controversial interview. “They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” Do we really desire Google to tell us what we should be doing next? I believe that we do, though with some rather complicated qualifiers.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Several evenings a week, after a day’s work at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, Sergey Brin drives up the road to a local pool. There, he changes into swim trunks, steps out on a 3-meter springboard, looks at the water below, and dives.
Brin is competent at all four types of springboard diving—forward, back, reverse, and inward. Recently, he’s been working on his twists, which have been something of a struggle. But overall, he’s not bad; in 2006 he competed in the master’s division world championships. (He’s quick to point out he placed sixth out of six in his event.)
The diving is the sort of challenge that Brin, who has also dabbled in yoga, gymnastics, and acrobatics, is drawn to: equal parts physical and mental exertion. “The dive itself is brief but intense,” he says. “You push off really hard and then have to twist right away. It does get your heart rate going.”...read more
Friday, September 12, 2008
“There is only one way to turn signals into information, through interpretation”, wrote the computer critic Joseph Weizenbaum. As Google’s hegemony over online content increases, argues Geert Lovink, we should stop searching and start questioning....read more