Sunday, May 19, 2013

Are We Becoming a World According to Google?

A recent article on CNN referenced Google expanding the capability of Maps. I use Maps. Not a great deal, it is handy when my wife doesn't know a yard sale location, or if we have to travel to a site we've not visited before. I've used it to check out travel routes, even though I know the way by heart just to see if a more direct or convenient route has opened up. I can find where a friend has moved to, or if I wanted to visit them how far would I have to travel. I find the response and convenience astounding and to me it has a very practical application.

However, this article referred to the idea that Google was expanding the Map software to become an interactive software that will record your inquiries and suggest points of interest, restaurants, etc according to your queries. Sounds nice, I might like to know what restaurants are nearby a place I am going to visit. However, over time the data base will be full of my travel, my exploration on line, my preferences, my likes and dislikes. In short the data assembled will form a pretty complete picture of who I am, what I do, where I go, and a whole host of personal information. 

We already have huge amounts of data stored in data bases out in the cloud, now we shall have another type of data. I wonder, how far will this go. It won't stop, there will never be a time that the data bases know all they want to know. The issue is how will it be used. I'm not sure we can stop it. After all, a lot of the convenience we enjoy such as on line shopping, banking, ordering theater tickets, plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc involve the transfer of data about ourselves. This data is already accumulated by such firms as Axiom. How many times have you researched a topic on the internet just to find an email from a related topic in your in box the next morning. I just did. 

Under the guise of Homeland Security, anti-terrorist security and the search for pedophiles, pornographers, sex-slave rings, and a whole host of evil doings the access to information about our personal lives has to be of compelling interest to those agencies. Therefore, I do not think we can stop information gathering and classification. I'm not sure I want to, but we certainly are forced into a trust of our government to properly use the data. Can they be trusted. I think most would say not. I wonder how one gets off the grid?

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