Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Worry About Google

Sometimes I look at what I have written and worry a little bit. I look at all of this stuff I posted about the Google Purge of David Petraeus and Kip Ward, and how the use of information stifled voices of dissent. Sometimes I think I might come off as pretty paranoid. Then I see a little something like this:
The real threat is that Google, or perhaps just a few people within the leadership of Google, may be quietly operating as a private intelligence agency for the left.
The information analysts and behavioral scientists are busy looking for better ways to predict how all sorts of subsets of individuals will behave. I do not doubt for one millisecond that some legislators, maybe for example Chuck Schumer, are listening carefully about collecting and managing information that wins elections.  They seem hard at work putting little noticed appropriations and authorizations in all sorts of legislation, so that their analysts and behavioral scientists are authorized to harvest and view more and more data.

At the end of the day, however, they are taking something that is mine - unique information. I think that whenever somebody uses my information, they should pay a tax.  Each time my information is passed from one machine to the next, a little more tax will be paid.  The amount of information tax that must be paid should be subtracted from my income tax liability.  I bet Google can figure out just how to do that.


Hari Seldon said...

Worrisome indeed, if knowledge of this becomes widespread.

Tom said...

Having built my career working with large amounts of data with a limited information content, I'm less worried.

The key is reliability. In order to say anything that can be relied upon, the people analyzing the data must say it about a large number of people. There will never be a point when they can say something about an individual. Individuals are too variant, too unpredictable. they turn left when they should turn right and act irrational in unpredictable ways and at unpredictable times. Those are the things that stymie data analysts.

Then there is the idea that those in government would ever consider writing a law to limit their power. Barak Obama isn't fit to polish the boots of a man like George Washington. Harry Reid is no John Adams. For the modern politician, the idea of allowing an individual American to live their life as they choose is abhorrent. It goes against everything they believe in. Only they can define fairness and 'justice'. And therefore if they aren't involved in some aspect of your life the results that rise naturally must be unfair and unjust.

My point is, yes I can see why you're afraid of it. The people at the top would certainly love to have a dystopian tool like the one you fear, and would never consider paying you for the trouble.

But don't worry. Like most things, the people in government are too stupid to manage it. And the math doesn't work that way even if they were.