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Google Serendipity and Augmented Humanity

Danny Goodwin
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News out yesterday was that bans on texting aren't reducing car accidents. Well, luckily, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has the answer: computers should drive the cars.

Aside from that odd sci-fi tangent, Schmidt spoke yesterday at the TechCrunch Disrupt event about where mobile and search is heading in the near future at Google. His big concept was permission-based autonomous search.

"Based on history, as you walk down street. Tell me things that I don't know. Tell me things I would be interested in. Think of it as a serendipity engine. Think of it as a new way of thinking about traditional text search."

Schmidt said the goal is to give you your time back. With an overload of information and too much to do, speed matters, which is why they rolled out Google Instant, he said.

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"The explosion of information is so profoundly large, it's so much larger than anybody expected, that you need help navigating," he said. "Google wants to help you figure out what information you should be consuming what information you should care about right now."

Yes, Google wants to tell you what to focus on next with their serendipity algorithm.

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"Games, movies, videos -- we can suggest, again, what you watch and what you know. You're never out of ideas. We can suggest what to do next, what to do, what to read, what to eat."

Pretty soon us augmented humans won't need to do much of anything. Huzzuh! Which brings us back to the cars.

"Your car should drive itself. It's amazing to me that we let humans drive cars. Computers should drive cars. It's obvious. It's a bug that cars were invented before computers. Much safer to let computers do what they're good at humans can talk or eat or whatever they want in the car," Schmidt said.

Not creeped out enough? How about this vision of our future:

"You're never alone. Your friends are always online. And if you're awake, you're probably online. And if your children are awake, they're certainly online. Always somebody to speak with, text to, talk to. You're really never bored. Instead of wasting time watching television, you can waste time watching the Internet."

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Why do I suddenly feel like we're all in "The Matrix" and only Schmidt knows about it?

Guess it all comes down to how much you love technology. Those who love it will agree with Schmidt, call him a genius, and see a tech utopia. And those who fear Google is turning into some mash-up of Big Brother and Cyberdyne will have yet more ammunition.

Speaking of TechCrunch, in case you haven't heard, they were bought yesterday by AOL.


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