Google the World

Google achieved dominance in the search engine market through a simple algorithm, PageRank, that made it easy for people to find information in an increasingly complex and deep internet. I remember the early days of the web, and compared to Altavista, Ask Jeeves, and Yahoo! Search, Google’s ability to track down what I was thinking of seemed like magic. These days, Google has morphed from a Silicon Valley start-up into a behemoth, clashing with the other titans of computation for our clicks and devices. But if there’s anything that sets Google apart, it’s its willingness to bet on the long-shots, and on the transformation research. This New York Times piece goes inside Google X, where they’re developing driverless cars, space elevators, and the internet of things.

“Other ideas involve what Google referred to as the “Web of things” at its software developers conference in May — a way of connecting objects to the Internet. Every time anyone uses the Web, it benefits Google, the company argued, so it could be good for Google if home accessories and wearable objects, not just computers, were connected.

Among the items that could be connected: a garden planter (so it could be watered from afar); a coffee pot (so it could be set to brew remotely); or a light bulb (so it could be turned off remotely). Google said in May that by the end of this year another team planned to introduce a Web-connected light bulb that could communicate wirelessly with Android devices.

One Google engineer familiar with Google X said it was run as mysteriously as the C.I.A. — with two offices, a nondescript one for logistics, on the company’s Mountain View campus, and one for robots, in a secret location.”

Freaky. Awesome. The last well-known corporate Skunk Works was Xerox PARC, which invented the graphical user interface and the mouse. It took Steve Jobs to see these ideas through to commercialization, put Xerox laid the foundation for computers that anybody could use.  It’s still far to early to see what the social implications of Internet of Things and common-place robotics will be, but it’s sure to be interesting.


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