Google Is Still Evil, But They Aren’t Alone

We hear this week of, as Brian Barrett writes at Wired.com, “Google’s Ingenious Plan to Make Apps Obsolete“. Google Now basically takes over the mobile device and talks directly to services, so you don’t need to switch from app to app.  Barrett sees Google Now becoming “smarter and smarter”, as it can combine information from many sources.

To give us the idea what is supposedly “smart” about this, Barrett recounts their example:

In an example Google provided during the keynote, if you send a text about your dry cleaning, a tap and hold will bring up information about the dry cleaner, including a “smart reminder card” to bug you about picking it up.

Well, this doesn’t sound either “smart” or even useful to me. I don’t really need Google to tell me about my local dry cleaners, nor to manage my calendar for me.

In fact, this “smart” service is quite reminiscent of the Clippy disaster, at a much larger and more annoying scale. Plus it tracks your location and “context”, presumably including human networks. I’d be very surprised if it does this better than I do for myself.

Technically, this concept is realized by making it easy and desirable for services to talk to Google rather than write their own app. App developers are screwed, service operators get easy access to users, at the cost of lock in. The side effect is that Google sits astride everything.

Google wants to track everything, and not let anyone else create apps.  The very apotheosis of “Evil”.


 

Not that Google has a monopoly on wickedness. Not satisfied with the slaughter created by distracted drivers, the mobile industry continues to pursue the chimera of “hands free” operation.

This idea is based on a total misunderstanding of the problem and deliberate (and, IMO, legally cupable) neglect of what psychologists have established about skilled behavior such as driving. The problem is not about where your hands are, or even, sometimes, where your eyes are. The problem is where your attention is.

Having a conversation on the phone with one hand or both hands on the steering wheel makes little different. Driving while talking to someone is just about the same impairment as driving while intoxicated (this was even demonstrated on Mythbusters, for goodness sake). It is lethally dangerous to you and everyone.

This week we read in the NYT that, apparently missing the memo about distracted driving, companies (including serial evil-doers Google and Apple) are now trying to market heads up displays on the windscreen itself. They seem to believe that putting distractions on the windscreen—partly obscuring the road—is somehow better than a screen somewhere else in the car. Right.

This is such a bad idea. Ask any psychologist. The NYT, for once, did just that.  Read what Sensei Wickens, among others, says.  The companies are basically denying science.

Look. Everybody knows this is a bad idea. I don’t care if “everybody is doing it”, don’t do it.

This is pure, pure evil.

To the lunatic “innovators” pushing these products to market: you are going to kill people. And if me or any of my family are injured by a drive equipped with this kind of technology, I can and will sue you. And I will win.

Just say no.

 

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