In class, we spend quite a bit of time discussing whether Google is good or bad. Google in its most basic form — as a search engine and Internet tool and even as a house for incredible innovation — is inarguably a good thing. It would be quite difficult to argue that those aspects of Google are bad things. Google’s data collection and control over our information, however, poses possible issues down the road.
At first glance, I had a hard time understanding the reservations brought up about Google. Google’s search engine is efficient and its other Google apps are the best because they are convenient and user friendly — and isn’t that the litmus test for technology? Do I like it and is it easy? Oh, and is it cool? Google clearly has the lock on the coolness factor and has permeated into tech culture and lingo.
Google has also built an incredible infrastructure that promotes innovation. Google is changing technology at a rapid pace and it would be hard to imagine that any other company could churn out the quantity of quality inventions simply because the resources and infrastructure at Google’s disposal are so great.
That begs the question, has Google become too big to beat. The answer is probably yes. One company could probably not replace Google the way things are going now. But, I don’t know that that poses an issue. Google is a product of a free market, and it is successful because the consumers decided to value it and use its products. The government did not pick Google to be the winner. The free market did, and the free market does have the power to take that away — theoretically. If Google stopped producing good products and tried to change their search engine and users found it complicated and hard to use, some other innovator could come through with a new product and take over. Google’s massive data network, however, might make that almost impossible to do, and that’s where Google’s goodness comes up for debate.
Our lives are so centralized around Google products that Google will be able to see that landmine of user dissatisfaction likely long before the user realizes it hates a new product. Google knows more about me than I probably know about me. That power over our data gives Google the opportunity to become bad. Using personal information for their own gain, while it’s legal and we have all consented to it, could be an invasion of privacy and that is disconcerting.
Google’s functionality as a pipeline for information and infrastructure for innovation, however, keep the company firmly on the side of good for now. The company’s massive ability to invade private citizen’s privacy, however, means that the company holds the ability to be bad in the future. For now, I believe that the good far outweighs the bad.