New version of a classic joke
One of the most powerful organization in the world decided to ask the question to it's hi-tech computer. "Is there a God?". After feeding in all relevant information available they typed it in and waited. After a lot of computing the system went into an eerie silence for a few minutes and then started typing.
It's answer was "Insufficient data."
Not to be outdone, the 8,000 engineers in their infinite wisdom started gathering all the information from the Worlds libraries, archives, and Web sites. So much information was assembled that it was decided that one computer could not handle it all so a network of computers were linked for the operation. Again the question was asked and all the computers went into action. After a couple of minutes the answer was forthcoming.
"Your search for - God - did not match any documents."
Calculated a bit more and said:
"- Make sure all words are spelled correctly.
- Try different keywords.
- Try more general keywords.
- Try fewer keywords."
This time they were going to get an answer to an age old problem and nothing would stop them. After months of negotiations with the most powerful companies and worldwide governments they were able to gather enough data and link all the computers in the world together to produce the ultimate super-computer. Nothing would stop them now. Just to make sure they fed in all information even remotely connected to the subject, they included every piece of personal information they could find.
The CEO typed in the question:
The computer whirred into action checking all it's drives and then linking with all the other computers. After seconds of activity going from one computer to another everybody waited eagerly as it typed to the screen.
The moral of the story
This joke highlights the point that too much power concentration, even with the best intentions, can lead to unpredictable results. As Google market caps continues to grow (and is predicted to surpass Microsoft), attention as already shifted from one super-power to another. At the same time, worries of abuse are also shifting from Microsoft to Google. While people worried about Microsoft monopolistic positions as a software platform, Google's privacy concerns are much more troublesome. This step is just the logical chain of event that historically grew from IBM's hardware to Microsoft software, and now to Google data.
Totally excluding Google from our lives is similar to saying we won't watch TV or drive our cars... Except for the most hard core people, this kind of tactic is unrealistic. Our hope is Google will understand there is a fine (virtual) line they shouldn't cross. They are starting to play with it and if they don't watch, the "2006 person of the year" could very well start to look at other alternatives.