Andrew Keen: Will life on planet Google be a nightmare or a dream?

Is Google good or is it evil? Is the company an all-knowing behemoth that is hubristically “transforming our lives”, Big Brother-style, with its intrusive technology? Or is it a plucky, selfless Silicon Valley start-up that is “audaciously” organising all the world’s information for all of our benefit? Is Google Orwell or is it Disney?The answer might depend on whether you trust the marketing instincts of English or American publishers. Last week, I was in London to do a debate at the ICA with the New York Times reporter and prolific Silicon Valley-based author Randall Stross, who has just written a highly informative and strictly unbiased new book called Planet Google. His main point is that Google – through its ubiquitous search engine artificial algorithm, Google Earth and Google Sky maps, G-mail email service, YouTube videos, Google Book Search, Google’s Android mobile phone, and myriad other knowledge initiatives – has one simple goal: to manage all the world’s information. Stross even notes that Dr Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO and PhD-in-chief, has done the maths and concluded that it will take the company exactly 300 years to index and search all the information in the world.

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