Google and Authoritarianism: Fear or Something Else?

August 7, 2018

I read “Without Sergey Brin, Google Has Lost Its Healthy Fear of Authoritarianism.” For me the main premise is that Sergey Brin has left the building. The loss or lack of Mr. Brin’s involvement has contributed to Google’s willingness to create a search system and method for the China market.

I noted this statement attributed to Mr. Brin published in an article in Der Spiegel:

“Having come from a totalitarian country, the Soviet Union, and having seen the hardships that my family endured–both while there and trying to leave—I certainly am particularly sensitive to the stifling of individual liberties,” he told Der Spiegel not long after the pullback.

The idea is that Mr. Brin was not comfortable with a foray into China.

This statement from the write up warranted a pink highlight circle:

Since Pichai took over, Google has made a number of overtures to China, including plans for an AI research lab in Beijing. Pichai last year also attended an annual internet conference China hosts, as did Apple’s Tim Cook, a rare confluence of top US tech leadership at the controversial tech event.

Thus, the idea is that Mr. Brin feared authoritarianism. Now Google does not fear authoritarianism. Maybe? Maybe not? Other fears may be motivating the ad supported search giant.

Stephen E Arnold, August 8, 2018


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