Google. Over 56% of the world’s population use the search engine alone on a monthly basis. The company undoubtedly plays a key role in twenty-first-century life. We access the online world through Youtube, Gmail, the Google Play Store. People see targeted ads based on data gathered by Google. The population use Google fonts, Google docs, Google spreadsheets to create work and personal projects. Some people even control their homes with Google technology. Families trust Google to monitor their children, with live-streamed footage directed to their phones and whoever else has enough intent to breach the security. But should we really trust companies to keep us safe? Companies with no inherent moral values? Companies with no real incentive to protect us?
Houston..we have a problem
The recent Google outage has put a lot into perspective. Combined with Amazon’s brief American blackout back in November, the tech titans that control our worlds have outpaced the safeguards meant to keep corporations in check. International laws regarding these companies have conveniently lagged behind their unprecedented growth, and the world has been left with an ultimatum. Should we limit the power of a single company?
If we continue to be passive observers of the economic and political environment these companies play in, they may continue completely revolutionising our world. In just 20 years, we’ve progressed more than in the past millennia of technological development. The global nature of mobile phones, the internet gaining its identity, the unparalleled convenience and speed of searches, deliveries and communication. However, companies continue to use our data maliciously, and this will only worsen with time.
The low prices we pay are unsustainable unless we ourselves are the product: our shrinking privacy funding our new toys. Even if you are willing to sacrifice your privacy for the overwhelming convenience these companies can provide, what about the outages they undergo? We’ve already seen two major shutdowns in less than a month. The reality is that Google is promising services it can’t keep up with. The infrastructure to support such a large customer base as the entire planet simply does not exist, and may never exist.
However, the alternative option isn’t exactly a satisfying solution. Developing legislation to limit the growth of a company will undoubtedly stifle innovation. Without a limitless monetary motivation, companies will begin to limit themselves and our flying progress will grind to a halt. Are we satisfied with the technology we have now? Or should we risk our greed eating us alive?