Not a week passes by without one being forced into a conversation with a suspicious-looking fellow who thinks Google is out to get us.
Between furtive glances hither and thither, the fellow proceeds to tell one – “Google has too much power, man!”. He elucidates more on privacy fears (Google could see him lie naked on his terrace if they want to! Yikes!), monopoly fears (Google might give you all the answers in the world one day and no one else! Cripes!) and on other phobias of this sort or that.
I always advise such fellows with the wise words “Sambhavami yuge yuge”. I further tell them that it shall all be for the good. As a conversation finisher, I also ask them whether they have a Google Chrome OS invite.
And then I read this column by Amit Varma on Corruption, Anna Hazare and Goverments.
And that’s when I cried, “Rule us, Google!!”
Let me now divide this post into two parts.
1. Current Awesomeness
2. Potential Regal Awesomeness
1. Current Awesomeness
1. (a) Google search engine – I do not need to expand on this much. From providing wonderful doodles to giving you the history of noodles, they provide it all.
1. (b) Google Realtime search – One might not have fully realized the complete awesomeness of this relatively new Google feature. I did recently, during an earth wobble.
4:59 PM, while gently relaxing in the office with a half-drunk coffee and half-droopy eyelids –
“Did the floor shake?!” – Colleague in the neighbouring seat.
“Er.. No..” – Me, sipping my coffee.
“It did! I felt it” – Colleague, furiously wiping the coffee she had spilled on her desk while the floor apparently shook.
“Really?” – Me, trying to figure out whether her coffee had a spiked look.
But then, why bother. I merely turned to Google Realtime and typed in “Delhi Earthquake”. This was at 5:01 PM.
And lo and behold, 4 results turn up, all from within the last 2 minutes. All 4 were tweets made from Delhi asking pretty much the same thing my colleague asked. “Did anyone feel that earthquake?”.
Let us take a step back and analyze. I have been subjected to an earthquake which I DID NOT feel, but the authenticity of which (and the authenticity of my colleague’s coffee) has been verified to me by this amazing search engine, within two minutes. That, gentlepeople, is awesomeness.
1. (c) Google Maps – Let me regale you with an anecdote. In the summer of 2005, a bunch of starry-eyed Engineering students, including I, set out from our college in Cochin for an industrial visit to Bangalore. We had high hopes of watching real software engineers at work, and of being intellectually stimulated and aroused by tantalizing peeks into cutting-edge technology. An industrial visit would be our first introduction to the real world of computer science.
Pshaw, to no avail.
We, in our enthusiasm for the visit that awaited us, set out with little idea of the route from Kochi to Bangalore and after myriad twists, turns and pukes, finally ended up at a beach. It appeared to be Goa.
Imagine our consternation. Our quest for intellectual pursuit blocked by something as trivial as right directions! And more crucially, what in the world would a bunch of 20-year olds do in a place as frivolous as Goa?!
And now think dear readers, would this happen in 2011? No! Never! At least a couple of students would have taken prinouts of correct Google Maps directions from Kochi to Bangalore! Another bunch would have phones with GPRS through which they shall connect to Google Maps whenever the driver strays off on a dusty path to a possible beach! This my friends, is technology. Let us close our eyes and gently thank Google.
1. (d) Google Images – A few days back, a friend and I were involved in a highly intellectual debate which spanned several fields of study. Let me not bore you with the actual details of that high-pressure sparring and this is hardly the forum for that. The crucial part is that the debate reached a juncture where I knew that I would score a substantial point if I could furnish the picture of a naked mole rat.
Now this was no ordinary task. A rat is fairly straightforward, you immediately drive to one of the many markets in Delhi and shoot a rat pic with your camera. A mole rat though? Tougher, much tougher. To begin with, I did not know what a mole rat was. Was it a rat with a mole? Was it a Malayalee daughter of a rat?
And that would hardly be enough as where in the world would I find a naked mole rat? Copious perspiration followed.
And then, as if the Gods smiled upon me, I knew where to look. Google Images of course, with its brand new design and ‘Safesearch Off’ feature, which shall guarantee a naked mole rat!
To cut a long story short, I did obtain a highly defined image of an NMR and subsequent bombardment of the friend with this image traumatized him so badly that I felt pity upon him and eased his worries by observing muted celebrations.
2. Potential Regal Awesomeness
And now we come to the crux of this post. In the column I had linked to earlier, journo Amit Varma talks about corruption and the inevitability of it as long as people have power. Human nature is that power corrupts. All absolutely true and accepted by many of us.
In this scenario, Varma argues, the best form of government one can conceive of is one with the bare essential power over the people it governs, in order to govern effectively.
Let us consider our Union Council of Ministers now. Including the Cabinet Ministers, MoS and those with independent charge, there are a total of more than 80 ministers governing us from the center. In other words, the government has identified more or less 80 aspects of your life that need governing and have appointed as many worthy souls to perform this function.
Amit Varma argues that, “Governments should exist to implement law and order, to protect our rights, and to provide basic services — nothing else. The more we move towards this ideal, the closer we come to rooting out corruption.”
And that’s when it struck me. Why not Google? But before accepting this point of view, it is important to accept the total and utter necessity of the interwebz in our not-so-distant future. Also important is to completely remove those privacy fears from your mind. Quick, do so now.
Google can implement law and order – A newly created Google Police (GP) can have just the adequate amount of power to serve this purpose. If a thief breaks into your house and steals your, let’s say, ICC World Cup, you immediately message Google Police. The machine at work there promptly switches on the satellite feed that covers your house 24 hours a day. Using the feed, they see the thief, track him jogging away with the World Cup and pounce in on him wherever he is at that moment. Androids sent by GP immediately surround him and confiscate the cup, which shall be returned to you in due course.
Google can protect your rights – If you rant on in twitter about fake Gurus, parlour tricks, unaccounted gold and stuff like ‘Opiate of the masses’, and a bunch of people following you insults your every conceivable relative, Google Rights Force (GRF) can immediately take over twitter and banish those people for a set period, thereby upholding your Freedom of Speech. Now let us not get into the debate over insults being free speech as well. GRF has clear rules pertaining to that.
Google can provide basic services – In fact, they do so already. This potentially lucrative part of governance would include Google Transportation (GT) which allows you to type in your desired destination in your GT homepage, upon which a Google Ads branded vehicle would commute you there. In the future of course, your GT homepage would immediately break down your molecules, drag those into the computer screen and transmit you through wires to your destination and subsequently re-assemble you there.
The picture which emerges is clear. Google need not be shunned, feared and ostracized for their consistent attempts to know more about our lives. They must be welcomed. And they must govern us. And then, this shall be a free and fair world again.
As long as they don’t ban twitter of course.