February 9, 2014

SCHULMAN | Google: The Real Skynet in Council Bluffs, Iowa

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The Terminator franchise was one of the less embarrassing moments of the 80s. If you haven’t seen the films, you should. So you don’t waste your time searching on Netflix only to realize they’re not there, I’ll summarize. In the future, a defense contractor builds a computer network called Skynet to manage military data but things go wrong. It develops intelligence and exploits its information to enslave humanity by turning our military technology against us and running the show behind the scenes from Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado.

Skynet is pure fiction, of course, but computers making intelligent decisions aren’t — at least, not anymore. Like Skynet’s servers in Colorado, Google’s servers in Council Bluffs, Iowa (one of Google’s 12 global data centers) make decisions for Gmail, Chrome and its other services. By signing Google’s privacy agreement, you sign away your soul — or, at least, the data from your emails, search queries and documents because Google uses your data to sell intelligently placed ads.

Like an over-involved mother, Google wants to know what you want before you know you want it … but unless you’re made of silicon and your mom sells information about you, Google isn’t your mom.