Google: Arm Wrestling with Oneself

June 13, 2018

A typical fiction trope is human vs. creation. The most famous work with this concept is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, followed closely by an endless science-fiction list that deals with humans vs. robots. While most humanity vs. creation stories focus on a dystopic future, the real life drama focus h job replacement and human skill obsolescence. The New York Times reports that “Early Facebook And Google Employees Form Coalition To Fight What They Built.”

Former Google and Facebook employees banded together to form the Center for Humane Technology. Partnering with Common Sense Media, the Center for Humane Technology’s purpose is to educate parents, students, and teachers about the social media’s dangers. The Center for Humane Technology’s founders built the social media technologies and companies, so they know what Facebook and Google are made of and the their potential health dangers.

“The effect of technology, especially on younger minds, has become hotly debated in recent months. In January, two big Wall Street investors asked Apple to study the health effects of its products and to make it easier to limit children’s use of iPhones and iPads. Pediatric and mental health experts called on Facebook last week to abandon a messaging service the company had introduced for children as young as 6. Parenting groups have also sounded the alarm about YouTube Kids, a product aimed at children that sometimes features disturbing content.”

Among the members are Dave Morin, Justin Rosenstein, Lynn Foxx, Jim Steyer, and Tristan Harris. Inspired by anti-drug campaigns, the Center for Humane Technology aims to understand the affect technology has on children’s brains. They also plan to lobby Congress to curtail tech companies’ power.

Now there’s a subplot. “Inventor Says Google Is Patenting Work He Put in the Public Domain” asserts that Google took another’s work and seeks to obtain a patent for a compression system and method. Both Facebook and Google appear to have adopted some of the open source technology.

Is Google arm wrestling itself? What happens if it loses the contest?

Whitney Grace, June 13, 2018

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