Google – Search, Email, Docs and… Killer Robots

Killer robots?

And no, I don’t mean the kind of cutesy killer, like some bleached out surfer expression “killer dude!” but actual killers. Shoot-you-and-leave-you-for-dead kind of killer robots.

Yes chilluns, Google is now a defense contractor making evil soldier robots.

The news arrived in my brain thanks to a story about Triodos Bank divesting Google stock. Triodos is a socially responsible investment fund and bank in Europe and as they have a zero tolerance policy for arms traders, they legally had to dump their Google stock.

Google stock. That paper, that if you had bought it five years ago, would be paying your mortgage right now. (Actual stock market values exaggerated and/or just plain made up for figurative purposes.)

The story is that Google has acquired…

Boston Dynamics, a company that is specialised in the development and production of robots. The issue arises because a part of Boston Dynamics is financed by the US defence agencies, particularly related to the development of armed robots.

You might think I’m on an anti-Google tirade if you read that piece about hijacking mindfulness, but while this whole thing makes me sick, it’s not that I’m singling out Google. I hate Apple too. Oh hate, I hate to use the hate word. ‘doh!

To be more precise, I’m really pissed off at ALL tech corporations at the moment, after just having started my migration from Facebook. The bizarre shift from underdog to corporate tyrant that Apple has gone through will likely be the subject of another tirade, but for now, let’s skewer the big G a bit more.

NSA Headquarters

China, Spying, Google and the NSA

There are a number of issues to be concerned about the growing power of this Silicon Valley behemoth.

Beyond the fairly obvious issue of how the company tracks users across its entire ecosystem for the purposes of delivering advertising content, lies an issue of greater concern – what happened after Chinese hackers breached Google’s firewalls in 2010.

After a fairly long introduction about the intrusion and the ensuing diplomatic response, an article in Salon reveals what Google did next – ask the NSA for help. This lead to an agreement that, while purposely ambiguous, has some disturbing implications:

The cooperative agreement and reference to a “tailored solution” strongly suggest that Google and the NSA built a device or a technique for monitoring intrusions into the company’s networks. That would give the NSA valuable information for its so-called active defense system, which uses a combination of automated sensors and algorithms to detect malware or signs of an imminent attack and take action against them.

The article goes on to detail how the NSA sucks in corporate CEOs, temporarily bringing them into the fold to gain their trust and cooperation. While all of this is done under the guise of “protecting the homeland” one must always ask the question of what is truly being protected. The obvious answer, to anyone with half a brain, is the protection of the system itself, which is of primary benefit to a small section of society… the .01%.

It Gets Weirder Still

julian-assangeAnother lighthouse in the murky fog of all things Google comes in the form of Julian Assange’s interview with Google CEO Eric Schmidt and other executives while Assange was under house arrest.

The revelations are bizarre to say the least. I’ll try to detail some highlights in the future. For now there are more important things to do than let this diatribe wander about endlessly.

The bottom line of it for me is that we have to start questioning the motives and actions of all of these tech corporations that are enmeshed in our lives.

That the revolution is coming is of little doubt; hopefully we’ll gradually realize that it can’t be conducted as long as we are so intimately entwined in daily use of products and services produced by companies that clearly don’t have our best interests at heart.

And for search, there’s always Duck Duck Go.

And these 6 links that will show what Google is saving about you.

Mindfulness Lite

The headline flickered somewhere across my screen. One of those titles that catches your eyes even though you never click through.

A few days later, a quick search revealed the headline as I’d remembered it – How the 1 percent is hijacking mindfulness.

Hmmm, scarrrry.

When I first heard years ago that Jon Kabat-Zinn was doing mindfulness courses at Google, it sounded fantastic. At last, some possibility of consciousness shifts happening within the belly of the digital beast.

As it turns out, while Google employees may indeed be getting a daily dose of McZen, there’s a deeper undercurrent of unease, as protesters recently disrupted a Google lifestyle conference revealed:

“The conference presents an evolution in consciousness of the wealthiest among us as the antidote to suffering rather than the redistribution of wealth and power.”

Pretty choice quote as we’re all about both the inherit possibilities of evolutionary consciousness through meditation AND a full-on smashing of the global capitalist system. (Non-violently of course.)

The quote came from Amanda Ream who was part of the troupe that got up in Google’s face during their “Three Steps to Build Corporate Mindfulness the Google Way.” This creepy-sounding lecture was about their mindfulness program, presented at the 2014 Wisdom 2.0 conference.

Even the name “Wisdom 2.0” reeks of Zenwashing.

Amanda reveals in a post about the incident:

“Most of the workshops offer lifestyle and consumer choices that are meant to help people heal from the harm, emptiness and unsustainability associated with living under capitalism, but [they do so] without offering an analysis of where this disconnection comes from.”

To put words in Amanda’s mouth, the disconnection comes from the endless pursuit of meaningless articles – shiny trinkets and flashy screens that distract us from a simple truth – that wealth is migrating up to the top .01% at a frightening pace. This new generation of fat cats makes the original robber barons look like nothing more than an aggressive pack of Girl Scouts cornering the neighborhood cookie market. (Ok, yeah, that’s an odd analogy.)

slavovPhilosopher Slavoj Zizek has better analogies up his sleeve, such as “Western Buddhism,” which he describes as a “perfect ideological supplement” to the stresses of life under contemporary capitalism:

“It enables you to fully participate in the frantic pace of the capitalist game, while sustaining the perception that you are not really in it; that you are well aware of how worthless this spectacle is; and that what really matters to you is the peace of the inner Self to which you know you can always withdraw.”

Sounds an awful lot like mind(fulness) games for the modern capitalist.