Showing posts with label Google. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Google. Show all posts

3 September 2018

Google At 20: How A Search Engine Became A Literal Extension Of Our Mind


Google At 20: How A Search Engine Became A Literal Extension Of Our Mind
We are losing our minds to Google. After 20 years, Google’s products have become integrated into our everyday lives, altering the very structure of our cognitive architecture, and our minds have expanded out into cyberspace as a consequence. This is not science fiction, but an implication of what’s known as the “extended mind thesis”, a widely accepted view in philosophy, psychology and neuroscience.

Make no mistake about it, this is a seismic shift in human psychology, probably the biggest we have ever had to cope with, and one that is occurring with breathtaking rapidity – Google, after all, is just 20 years old, this month. But although this shift has some good consequences, there are some deeply troubling issues we urgently need to address.

Much of my research spans issues to do with personal identity, mind, neuroscience, and ethics. And in my view, as we gobble up Google’s AI driven “personalised” features, we cede ever more of our personal cognitive space to Google, and so both mental privacy and the ability to think freely are eroded. What’s more, evidence is starting to emerge that there may be a link between technology use and mental health problems. In other words, it is not clear that our minds can take the strain of the virtual stretch. Perhaps we are even close to the snapping point.
Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?
This was the question posed in 1998 (coincidentally the same year Google was launched) by two philosophers and cognitive scientists, Andy Clark and David Chalmers, in a now famous journal article, The Extended Mind. Before their work, the standard answer among scientists was to say that the mind stopped at the boundaries of skin and skull (roughly, the boundaries of the brain and nervous system).

But Clark and Chalmers proposed a more radical answer. They argued that when we integrate things from the external environment into our thinking processes, those external things play the same cognitive role as our brains do. As a result, they are just as much a part of our minds as neurons and synapses. Clark and Chalmers’ argument produced debate, but many other experts on the mind have since agreed.

Our minds are linked with Google 
Clark and Chalmers were writing before the advent of smartphones and 4G internet, and their illustrative examples were somewhat fanciful. They involved, for instance, a man who integrated a notebook into his everyday life that served as an external memory. But as recent work has made clear, the extended mind thesis bears directly on our obsession with smartphones and other devices connected to the web.

Growing numbers of us are now locked into our smartphones from morning until night. Using Google’s services (search engine, calendar, maps, documents, photo assistant and so on) has become second nature. Our cognitive integration with Google is a reality. Our minds literally lie partly on Google’s servers.

Extra memory
Extra memory. (Shutterstock)
But does this matter? It does, for two major reasons.

First, Google is not a mere passive cognitive tool. Google’s latest upgrades, powered by AI and machine learning, are all about suggestions. Google Maps not only tells us how to get where we want to go (on foot, by car or by public transport), but now gives us personalised location suggestions that it thinks will interest us.

Google Assistant, always just two words away (“Hey Google”), now not only provides us with quick information, but can even book appointments for us and make restaurant reservations.

Gmail now makes suggestions about what we want to type. And Google News now pushes stories that it thinks are relevant to us, personally. But all of this removes the very need to think and make decisions for ourselves. Google – again I stress, literally – fills gaps in our cognitive processes, and so fills gaps in our minds. And so mental privacy and the ability to think freely are both eroded.

Addiction or integration? 
Second, it doesn’t seem to be good for our minds to be spread across the internet. A growing cause for concern is so-called “smartphone addiction”, no longer an uncommon problem. According to recent reports, the average UK smartphone user checks his phone every 12 minutes. There are a whole host of bad psychological effects this could have that we are only just beginning to appreciate, depression and anxiety being the two most prominent.

But the word “addiction” here, in my view, is just another word for the integration I mentioned above. The reason why so many of us find it so hard to put our smartphones down, it seems to me, is that we have integrated their use into our everyday cognitive processes. We literally think by using them, and so it is no wonder it is hard to stop using them. To have one’s smartphone suddenly taken away is akin to having a lobotomy. Instead, to break the addiction/integration and regain our mental health, we must learn to think differently, and to reclaim our minds.The Conversation

About Today's Contributor:
Benjamin Curtis, Lecturer in Philosophy and Ethics, Nottingham Trent University

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

1 March 2018

The Economist: Autonomous Vehicles Will Change The World The Future Will Be About Selling Rides, Not Cars

Autonomous vehicle
AV success depends on whether policymakers can learn the lessons of the horseless carriage and apply them to the driverless car
Autonomous vehicles are expected to develop and spread quickly in the coming years. Some are already on the road. This report considers the implications of fully self-driving cars for personal mobility, car ownership and the future of transport, on the assumption that the remaining technological hurdles will be overcome. It also looks more broadly at the wider economic, social and cultural effects of AVs.
The author of "Reinventing wheels," a special report published in today's edition of The Economist, is Tom Standage, the newspaper's deputy editor and head of digital strategy. He notes that AVs are not yet ready to operate entirely without human supervision, but have made rapid progress in recent years. Tech giants (notably Google's sister company Waymo), startups, carmakers and academic researchers are all working on AVs or developing related technology, including laser scanning, computer vision and machine learning. Waymo expects to launch a driverless "robotaxi" service this year, serving a limited part of the city of Phoenix, Arizona; GM, America's biggest carmaker, hopes to follow suit next year.
Because AVs sit at the intersection of the technology and automotive industries, a furious battle is under way to dominate this emerging industry. The result has been a flurry of deals and alliances between carmakers, software and hardware companies and ride-hailing firms. The report predicts that at least initially, and possibly even in the long term, a large proportion of self-driving cars will be taxis of some sort. The future will be about selling rides, not cars.

"Reinventing wheels" examines four main themes:
  • Technology: AV technology is making rapid progress but still needs further work for a wide rollout. A fully autonomous car needs to master three tasks: perceiving its environment, predicting the actions of those around it and responding accordingly. The first two of these tasks pose the greatest technical challenges.
  • Impact on industry: carmakers, tech companies and ride-hailing firms are all competing and often co-operating in this new field. AVs could undermine the case for car ownership, but there is a big opportunity for carmakers to reinvent themselves as mobility providers, selling miles rather than metal boxes.
  • Urban planning: AVs present an opportunity to rethink cities. They could reduce traffic and reduce transport costs. But whether they increase urban density or encourage sprawl will depend on planners' and policymakers' choices.
  • Society: AVs could greatly reduce crashes, emissions and congestion, but could also have unintended consequences. By recording riders' every move, they raise privacy concerns. And uneven provision could cause new forms of segregation.
A century ago the advent of the car brought more personal autonomy, freedom of choice and mobility, but at the cost of pollution, congestion and road deaths. Autonomous vehicles will prove similarly revolutionary. AVs offer policymakers an extraordinarily flexible tool with which to shape urban and transport environments—but that also means that they offer authoritarian governments a powerful means of social control. Whether they are a success will depend on whether policymakers can learn the lessons of the horseless carriage and apply them to the driverless car.

SOURCE: The Economist

18 December 2016

US Climate Heroes: Bypass Trump! [Petition]

Image via
Dear friends,

One man could destroy our future in 34 days. Yep, Donald Trump. 

He doesn’t even need the nuclear codes -- he just needs to keep his promise to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, and have massive polluters like India or Russia follow suit! 

But we’ve got a silver bullet: bypass Trump.  

New York, California and Google have raised their climate ambitions after Trump's election -- if we get them to build a coalition of US cities, states and businesses to collectively meet the US climate target, the Paris agreement can hold. Let's send a million voices directly to their doorsteps!  

>> Click here to sign!

This really could work. Key cities, states and firms are already stepping up, with Google committing to 100% clean energy by next year!  

Add giant states like New York and California to giant cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, and experts say you might not even need the US Federal government to meet the US climate target! The Paris agreement can be saved. 

Avaaz has already been pushing this idea with insiders, who say that a big public push from our movement could help catalyze the leadership we need from climate heroes. Let's take millions of global voices to Mayors, Governors and CEOs across the US:  

>> Click here to sign!

Leaders change, facts do not. And that’s why our movement is so important. We can keep accelerating on the road towards a safe climate future, no matter who is in power. In the era of Trump’s denialism, let's help bring together the coalition we need to save the world.

With hope,

Loup Dargent
On behalf of Christoph, Alice, Nick, Risalat, Martyna, Ricken and the rest of the Avaaz team 


More Donald Trump Related Stories
Click here for more Donald Trump related stories...

31 December 2015

Happy New Year To All!

Happy New Year to all our readers and friends from Twitter, this blog's Facebook Page, the Bonehill Zone's FB PageGoogle, and every other social media sites I'm a member of... 
Without your support and encouragement, this blog would probably still not be around anymore, so a big thank you to all of you and a very happy, productive, out of this world, and fascists/Nazis/Joshua Bonehill/ Donald Trump/Katie Hopkins free, year 2016 to everyone!

30 March 2014

How Facebook, Google And Twitter Sell You [Infographic]

"With free online services, you’re the product."

As we all know, there is no such thing as a free lunch. And Social media is no exception. 
While Google, Twitter and Facebook are, in theory, free to use, we do pay a price when making use of those free services... See how they make money out of us in today's infographic made by 

22 November 2013

Google Celebrates Doctor Who 50th Anniversary With A Doodle And A Game


Google celebrates Doctor Who 50th anniversary (via The Inquirer)
IT PROBABLY hasn't escaped anyone's notice in Britain that Doctor Who will reach its half century anniversary on Saturday. As well as a feature length telly episode featuring at least three Doctors Who, there has been no shortage of fans waiting to…

27 April 2013

Governments are making more censorship demands on Google


Governments are making more censorship demands on Google (via The Inquirer)
INTERNET GIANT Google has published its latest transparency report and revealed that governments are making more and more demands of it. Google publishes its transparency report quarterly. It says it does so to be as open as possible. The reports usually make for chilling reading. This report is no…

26 February 2013

The Self-Driving Car: Will Google Lead the Way? [Infographic]


The self-driving car has long been projected, but they are still unavailable. The promise of the self-driving is compelling as the ability to travel without having to pay attention to the road inspires visions of spending driving time watching videos or reading. Google has invested heavily in self-driving cars, but will their efforts succeed?

Google has some advantages over other who have tried in the past. Their Maps platform features some of the most sophisticated maps and mapping algorithms available, and their databases have been tested by drivers armed with video cameras. When it comes to navigating cars, Google has the technology necessary to succeed.

Google is large enough company that they can afford the investments necessary. Google has already tested cars that drive with minimal human assistance, and their progress has been encouraging. The states of Nevada and California now allow Google to test their cars on public roads. While the self-driving car is not a realistic option yet, Google might have a shot at succeeding.

21 February 2013

Outside the Corporate Culture Box [Infographic]


On hearing the words "corporate culture," many people might think of a gray, colorless, monolithic culture and an inflexible approach to getting things done. But all corporate culture refers to is the many and varied ways companies express who they are. Therefore, corporate culture can be as diverse as any other type of culture. Corporate culture will vary between industries as well with more conservative industries such as banking, insurance and finance being slower to change and adopt new cultural mores than creative industries.

Corporate culture began to undergo a big shift in the 1990s when the first start-ups and dot-coms arose and attempted to bring a more playful ethos into the workplace. Those early companies were notorious, though, for their long work hours. Today's innovative corporate cultures emphasize life/work balance and flexibility among other benefits.

So, who are among the most innovative companies today in inventing their own corporate cultures, and what values do those cultures promote?

Image compliments of Human Resources MBA Degree Guide

1 February 2013

Google reaches deal with French news websites


Google reaches deal with French news websites (via AFP)
Google resolved a compensation fight with French news publishers on Friday that sees the US Internet search giant setting up a 60 million euro fund to help France's media adapt to the digital age. "There's been a global event ... the conclusion of a deal between Google and a news media grouping that…

8 January 2013

France wants Google to invest in its internet


France wants Google to invest in its internet (via The Inquirer)
THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT has its eyes on Google's wallet and is asking whether the firm should kick in some sort of monetary tribute in exchange for running its adverts there. The government, well, France's technology minister Fleur Pellerin, made the suggestion after a local ISP, called Free, began blocking…

27 April 2012

Google: Behind the Numbers [Infographic]

Going online has become almost ubiquitous with using one of Google's services. The name of its search engine has followed in the footsteps of the trademarks Xerox and Kleenex and become a verb. People will often drop the fact that they are "going to Google" something into casual conversation and nobody thinks anything of it.

A substantial portion of the world's population makes multiple visits to Google every month. The amount of time that people collectively spend on Google each month is long enough for all the mammals walking on land today to have evolved. Fueling all that data use takes a tremendous amount of electric power, too.

All of that popularity has made Google a giant to contend with in the business world. The company's annual revenue exceeds the combined gross domestic product of more than two dozen countries. Much of that revenue comes from shady advertisers hawking sometimes barely legal wares.

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