I think we all have tacitly accepted the fact that Google Inc. is one day going to rule the world. Within the past few years, they have moved into pretty much every category of user technology.
Thanks to Google we can email limitlessly, synergize ideas, cooperatively edit documents online, maintain calendars accessible from anywhere, and very possibly feed our hamsters. This is all besides searching the web for the reason internet was invented in the first place – i.e. porn. (1)
However, a recent Google innovation marks a subtle shift in the Google-Rest Of The World dynamic. Up until now, all of Google’s tools have been available for the user to apply as they see fit.
For example, you can use Google’s Sketchup program to design beautiful buildings, solar-powered aircraft, or your own personal dream toilet. The choice is entirely up to you.
However, the company has recently rolled out Google Goggles, a program that asks you to perform a number of math problems in a limited time before you’ll be allowed to send an email. The idea behind this is to prevent individuals from sending drunken, regrettable emails that they might never have sent in a more sober, less pants-pissing frame of mind.
There’s certainly a Big Brother element to all of this. It’s one thing to provide free tools to increase productivity, but it’s entirely another to write software that babysits people. And it’s already sparked a lot of debate on the internet about the implied moral message behind a program that stops you sending badly-spelled emails to that walking freakshow you slept with three weeks ago.
After all, does Google have the right to insert whatever messages they want into their software? Should Google be providing software to people for their own good?
Yes and yes.
Let me tell you a story:
I sold lemonade as a kid. I wore red overalls, I charged 5 cents a glass, and I made a fair bit of cash. It was adorable, until I started getting a little too big for my britches. I started adding my own personal commentary, saying things like, “sorry this isn’t diet, lady,” or “your son smells like an ugly cat.”
And it was wrong of me, because my customers were paying me for the lemonade, and not my personal, highly accurate opinions. Once I understood this, of course, I changed my business model and just started throwing lemons at passing cars while yelling threats. Not all 5 year olds understand business, but I sure did.
What I’m trying to say is that if Google wants to provide us with oodles of useful, free software, they should be entitled to stick whatever they damn well please in there. For instance, if Google decides to implement a program that reads your email out loud to you in Rachael Ray’s voice, you have two choices: download the program and use it, or skip this particular release because you feel that hearing Rachael Ray’s voice is like watching an orphanage burn down (2). Either way, you aren’t paying for it, so allow for a little creative flexibility, would you?
Additionally, if Google wants to start producing programs for our own good, well, maybe that’s what we need. Just maybe the advent of programs that stop you from sending messages that read “HEy- wanna wtch a movei? Hpoe you read this sooon lookit my boner! LOl. Sriously though, look ta it. Love, me,” isn’t such a bad thing.
And, I know, it’s a philosophically slippery slope, right? Today Google stops our drunk emails, and tomorrow it pairs us off and sends us to the breeding pens? Is that more or less the argument?
Well, how many great decisions do you make in a day anyway (3)? You just might need exactly the kind of help that Google’s offering. With Google calling the shots, you won’t send that tear-soaked, 4 a.m. email that unintentionally pushes your ex into the arms of some broad-shouldered European guy who’s probably better in bed than you are (4). Granted, she’ll probably still end up with him, but Google will have at least saved your dignity.
Bearing all of this in mind, I’ve had a few ideas for other small changes or new programs that Google could implement, for the good of all:
Google WrapUp ™:
In the event that you manage to pass the Google Goggles ™ math test, and send that email, Google WrapUp will demand that you at least use a condom when sleeping with whatever it is you’ve decided that you need to pass out next to. You’ll be required to hold the condom up to a webcam; Google’s advanced image recognition software will determine whether you have adequate protection, or if you are just holding up a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
Google TextTalk ™:
GoogleChat users will have their messages read back to them before they are sent off to any friends or loved ones. Ideally, users will realize how universe-endingly stupid they sound when they hear “I luv u 2, boo!” pronounced by a heartless machine. Just type out all the extra letters, people. In the long run, it will be worth it.
Google PervScan ™:
Google will scan all of your porn. Any child pornography will result in your computer shutting down for good. Also, a special team of Google enforcers will stop by your house sometime during the week to deliver a business-like ass-kicking. Then the next time you feel like being a pervert, you can finger the “Google” impression that guy’s boot left on your forehead and maybe just enjoy a nice juice box instead.
This will be a comprehensive suite of programs that will maximize your chances of having a rewarding and enjoyable club experience. GoogleAUITC will monitor your pre-gaming to make sure you don’t overdo it and pass out before you even leave for the club.
Webcam technology will make sure that the group isn’t made up of all guys – a sure recipe for appearing incredibly lame and creepy. In the case of an all-female group, the computer’s microphone will be used to record everybody’s comments about the slutty outfit of whoever is currently using the bathroom.
Finally, if you come back home after a disappointing night, the computer will use complex algorithms to calculate the amount of loneliness and misery in your expression. If a certain amount of spiritual desolation is detected, this program will simulate a sort of disgusted pity and disable Google Goggles, leaving you to your booty-mailing.
Google Hug ™
A simple program that will alert other users of Google programs that you currently want some attention. It will use a tiny animation in which two cartoon arms repeatedly embrace a picture of your face (5). This should prove to be a much more direct and efficient method of getting sympathy and concern than just putting up an ambiguous Facebook message, like ‘Amberlynn is searching for answers,” or “Donald is weeping to the stars in the heavens.”
Google Venge ™:
Using Google’s highly sophisticated internet search algorithms, this program will tirelessly sift through mountains of digital information to figure out which of your high school classmates has ended up as a disgusting failure.
See? Google is clearly the future. Google, for better or for worse, is going to know what’s best for us. My suggestion is to get your Google tattoos now so that when we all start getting assimilated, you’ll be seen as a loyalist. Then maybe – maybe – you won’t immediately be sent to work the coal pits or the salt mines.
1. If any of this is news to you, you’re obviously just now using a computer for the first time in your life. Let me save you some time: you will look at porn. You’ll fight it for a while, but inevitably, you’ll surrender to the sweet, siren song of the pornomation superhighway. So just give in. Of course, veteran internet users know enough to just open up another tab. By the time they read this article, “Synthia’s Adventures in Dongland” should have finished loading. And heck, after that, the work day’s pretty much over.
2. I do not understand how this woman is famous. Just listening to her makes me feel like I stormed the beach on D-day. After 20 minutes of learning how to make a cheap casserole, I drive over to the VA and drink whiskey out of a paper cup for the rest of the evening.
3. Six, you make six.
4. I mean were.
5. Possibly pressing it into a huge pair of knockers; this assumes that Google’s knocker technology will be far ahead of the industry standard.