At the Techonomy conference in August 2010, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt said that through artificial intelligence Google can predict human behavior and that if we show Google 14 pictures of ourselves, it can even identify who we are—a boastful statement, but not far from the truth.
The ordinary human mind works mostly as a mechanism based on past conditionings. And it becomes even more mechanical through interacting continuously with machines. So there’s little surprise that some well-written software can infer with good accuracy who we are, what we want, which website we will visit, where we will go next while on the street. Google knows of every Web page we visit, every advertisement we click on and probably—with their mathematical and analytical tools that can interpret location, web navigation, connections with people, and email messages—much more than we can imagine.
In case our behaviour can’t be predicted, Google can always tell us what we should do, because, in Schmidt’s words, people “want Google to tell them what they should be doing next”, as reported by Nicholas Carr1. As much as his words are unnerving, there’s, again, more than a hint of truth in them. Our will and inner direction are activated by the connection with our “belly center”—that place which any martial arts practitioner moves from.
This center is weakened by overusing the mind without a felt, alive and aware connection with the body, which is the ground for our search for truth. Lacking this connection, we seek guidance from technology even for the most basic decisions, just as we ask Google for anything which could be retrieved with a little effort by our memories.
This transforms all of us into helpless babies needing suggestions or confirmation from Mother Google for all our activities. Or at best into rebellious teenagers ignoring her hints, but showing up at dinner time.
Possessive mothers want their children to be dependent on them, not wanting them to grow up, seducing them with their tastiest dishes (free and entertaining software tools) and providing for all of their needs—while resisting their children’s every effort to go out from home unsupervised. Anywhere we go we leave a trace for Google. The children, then, will never face the real world—nor their real selves.
1. Brave New Google.