Has Google Crossed Over Into True Evil?
Google's "don't be evil" mantra may not fit comfortably with its stance on privacy and testing experimental cars on open roadways. That could arguably be considering more negligent than evil, but recently I've run into something that truly appears to be evil, that appears to destroy people, and where Google appears to intentionally place the resulting burden on you and me. Let's talk about evil this week.
Aug 27, 2012 5:00 AM PT
The reason we keep asking about Google and evil is because early in their existence they appeared to create a policy of not being evil. This was most unusual, but since then the invasions of privacy and moves like taking self-driving cars on the road without approval in early testing seemed to test that definition.
The reason car companies don't do this is because a problem could be deadly, not just to the employee but the family that might get hurt in an accident.
But in both cases these policies looked more negligent than evil. The first was because they figured they were trading off their stuff (free apps, search, and even platforms for your information), and the second because they were so excited about the technology they forgot safety (and no one was actually hurt).
But recently I've run into something that truly appears to be evil, that appears to destroy people, and where Google appears to intentionally place the resulting burden on you and me. Let's talk about evil this week.
We'll close with another Windows 8 product this week: the Lenovo A720 all-in-one, a product that currently is the best desktop product for Windows 8 (Lenovo is clearly on a run).
Evil doesn't have an easy definition. I think for most of us we know it when we see it.
For instance last week, I was told the back story of one of the leading advocates against animal cruelty. Apparently he had gone to save a dog that had been hit by a car and was in traffic. When he went to save the dog two men attacked him with a baseball bat and a knife because they wanted to see if the dog would be hit again, and they apparently had put the puppy on the road in the first place.
If you search on puppy, baseball bat, and knife, as I did to see if I could find this story online, you'll see a long list of people who are clearly, in my mind, evil. As I write this I am disgusted they are in the human race.
I doubt any of us would disagree that people who do things like this, cause pain and suffering for entertainment, are evil.
At the core of this is a decision to intentionally do harm for any reason. In the case that started my search, it was for entertainment, but the only reason you might legitimately use a weapon on a pet would be if that pet was attacking you.
Let's move to people -- how to you feel about abusing people? I mean, to an extent where you either make them suicidal or you turn them into something like a pedophile or worse? Toward the end of the week last week, the story emerged on how Google handles really nasty stuff on the Web.
They have people that review repulsive Web information, child porn, bestiality, ritual murder, stuff that is known to cause issues with law enforcement officers who have to do the same thing. For the police, then general policy, I'm told, is to limit this job to six months and then follow it up with therapy, often a lot of it, because it twists the mind. Child porn, if viewed in excess for a long time, can create an affinity for it in the observer -- in effect if you do something long enough your brain adjusts and you may start to enjoy it. Imagine this with the other stuff. What the observer initially found disgusting may, over time, actually excited them.
The other likely outcome is suicidal tendencies, possibly connected to the changing personal behavior associated with what is being viewed (what would you do if you suddenly thought of yourself as a pedophile?). And just seeing that people do some of this stuff to children and animals for a long time might make you depressed enough to want to end your life.
My few-moments scan on cruelty to animals put me into a deep funk -- how about doing this from 10:00 to 8:00 full-time for a year?
Now this is where Google crosses over to evil. Google brings on the people who do this as temps, and then after a year lets them go, apparently to avoid having to pay for the psychiatric treatment they will need probably for the rest of their lives.
In short, they are destroying people -- might even be manufacturing pedophiles and folks who want to take their own lives -- and then tossing them back into the general population. You might think this last would be self-correcting, but what if the person decides to die on a freeway by head-on collision?
Read the interview and let me know what you think. Is this evil?
The reason I started with the dog story is because that about was two guys who hurt one man and a dog to make money on a bet. Google is run by two guys who apparently instituted this policy to save money on medical fees. The first two guys hurt one dog and one man. Google is hurting good kids systematically. Granted, the first group is doing physical harm, but the second is creating people who could later physically harm children. I think the second case is actually worse.
What is clear over time is that while people often intend to do good, the concept of the end justifying the means can work into any organization. Google is the living example of a firm that seems to have solidly crossed the line. Its chairman was on Apple's board while Steve Jobs was dying, and while Jobs was also mentoring Google's founders, they decided to move from search and create products that competed with Apple. This upset Jobs so much he pledged all of Apple's resources to kill Android. To me, that is evil. To attack someone who has put you in a position of trust and used his own time to help you has to be evil. It doesn't matter that Jobs wasn't exactly and angel himself.
But taking kids out of college and destroying them, that is something that just sits in the back of your head and festers. Apparently Google is not alone in this, though many of the other companies outsource these duties to folks in places like India. Hey, out of sight out of mind, and at least they aren't doing it to Americans, right? Personally I don't care where it is done; this practice of destroying people should be regulated so that the people aren't destroyed.
So, do you agree this is evil? And what do you think should be done about it? The job is necessary, but shouldn't firms be required to assure that the people doing it aren't destroyed?
Product of the Week: Lenovo IdeaCentre A720
As we ramp to Windows 8, I'm looking for products that really make that operating system shine, and the first all-in-one to meet that goal is from Lenovo. It is the IdeaCentre A720. All-in-ones are all about style, and this product showcases a very aggressive design and very attractive desktop appearance.
Twenty-seven inches is the current ideal size for a desktop monitor -- big enough to optimize productivity and entertainment viewing yet not over the top to be excessively expensive. At just short of US$1,700, it isn't cheap, but in perspective this is both desk art and cutting-edge technology. What really is kind of cool, and something you can't do on an iMac, is that it has an articulated hinge which allows you to lay the screen flat and work from the top.
In the end, if you want a desktop PC that really showcases Windows 8, no better product exists in market than the Lenovo IdeaCentre A720, and that is why it is the product of the week.