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What do we do when one company has access to all the information in the world?
Published on October 14, 2004 By Zoomba In Personal Computing
Do No Evil. The corporate motto of Google. Seems like a good basic operating rule for any person or company. But how much should we trust what they say?

Let's look at the main service offerings from Google. All of which are tied together by their search technology.

Google Web Search - What we all know and love from google. Widely considered the most popular and functional web search utility out there, most people connect Google directly with the idea of searching for information, Google has become a verb in our everyday language(i.e. "I'll Google it"). Microsoft wants to challenge Google, but who knows how they'll manage. This is the foundation upon which the company is built. And it's completely free.

Google Mail (GMail) - Who wouldn't love a free webmail service with a full gigabyte of storage space?! Top it off with the fact that it has very good built in spam filtering, and it uses the proven search and archival technology that made the web search tool great. Makes it easy to sift through the thousands upon thousands of emails you would have to have to reach the 1gb limit. It's fast, user-friendly, tons of storage space and it's FREE.

Google Toolbar - This is a nice little utility that gives you the google search bar on your browser directly so you don't have to go to to search. It also has an excellent pop-up blocker and links back to some of their other online services (Blogger, Froogle, Google News etc). It even shows you the Google Page Rank for any page you happen to be surfing.

Google Desktop Search - Today we were given the latest and greatest tool Google has put out to-date. The desktop search tool. Now you can harness the greatness of Google technology, the stuff that made the web searchable again. It indexes EVERYTHING... email, documents (and the contents), AIM conversations, everything. It does it nearly instantaneously too, so say goodbye to that useless and slow Windows Search tool which grinds over your hard drive every time you search for anything. This tool just flat-out rocks.


So those are the primary tool offerings from Google as of today, with more coming down the pipe I'm sure. Now looking at all of that there's one slightly alarming trend I'm seeing emerge. Google now has the potential to index every piece of information on any machine connected to the Internet. We all know the main Google search engine is powered by a large cluster of ordinary PCs... Well now people are going and installing the indexing software on their own desktop PCs. We're a step away from becoming nodes in a globally distributed computer cluster such that has never been done before (a much wider reach than Google can index all of your email from GMail and instantly integrate it into their search system, I bet it would just take a flick of a switch to open up that database to the wider search system.

If you have all of these tools installed, and you use the google search engine to search the web, they have access to every single thing you do with your PC. It would be extremely easy for Google to send out a patch to their tools that connects them all together. Add in the fact that lots of companies and large schools buy the Google search appliance to index their own network content, and they can touch almost every single piece of information in the world. We're all becoming cogs in the world's largest PC, Powered By Google (tm).

Is this the beginning of SkyNet? What sorts of things can we accomplish when every computer in the world works together on a single problem? What do we do about the people who hold the control over this new and massive system? You can bet that if Microsoft was trying to roll all of this out at the same time people would be going absolutely crazy building bomb shelters.

The less paranoid, and far cooler theory is one that was presented a while back, that Google is working to build essentially an internet-based Operating System. They're slowly building the components, and web-based applications are starting to reach mainstream status. Whichever way Google goes... evil empire, or benign harold of a new technological era, it'll be interesting to watch.

Wishing I had bought some Google stock...

on Oct 20, 2004
~ Are we talking Conspiracy Theory here??