A recent piece on Quartz quotes Google exec Sundar Pichai saying the company’s goal is to “put computing everywhere,” suggesting that the company is moving from its legacy position as the organizer of “the world’s information” to a new ubiquitous-computing position in which it provides the operating system for the coming Internet of Things. Having been on something of an OS and hardware journey since developing the Android phone OS and now the Google Glass, it seems a logical and prescient extension for a company with such a global vision and the proven ability to conceptually grasp and then shape massive connected territory (e.g., the internet itself).
I wrote some time back about the relationship between Google’s model and the psychogeography of data, my thesis being that the company itself has both the vision and power to shape the world, and the power that it wields is directly connected to psychogeography, or rather “psychogeoengineering.” Here were my key points:
1) The web is nothing more than the first iteration of a future world that is pure datasphere. We will all live in that world. It will shape us. It will teach us. It will define what is possible and what is not. It’s already happening, but it’s just begun.
2) Page Rank and algorithms like it will be primary forces of nature that will do nothing less than shape and define the world we live in. And who we are, what we can be. It’s already happening, but it’s just begun.
3) Specifically, the search engine scuplts the psychogeography of the datasphere in which we all live. By favoring some data, and starving off others, Google and things like Google passively and actively delimit what data exists in the world, according to their own logic and judgment, and thereby (I repeat) define the world we live in, shape what we can think and who we can be.
4) And thus, Google is nothing less than a kind of demiurge cartographer of a living world of data: they are mapping (and through mapping, creating) our digital world for us. They are creating/mapping our intellectual, social and cultural possibilities, no less, and it’s no surprise that they long ago set about to map (or re-map) the physical world too. It’s all the same project of psychogeographic engineering.
So, now I add this, and I don’t know why I didn’t draw it out then:
5) The convergence of data and smart technology with ubiquitous computing, and thus the Internet of Things, will not only give Google the ability to remap the world virtually, but also in a very real, physical, experiential way. By putting computing into everything, and linking everything, plugging it all into the datasphere, Google will potentially be able to monitor and influence every built environment in the world, as well as your individual possibilities within it.
Such potential power, if realized, is unprecedented. It’s the physical world become datasphere, and the datasphere made physical, powered, monitored and defined by Google and things like Google.
I may be overstating things, so please comment if you think I am, but Google thinks big, their actions follow their vision, and we should all do what we can to understand the world they wish to create, because we may soon find ourselves living in it.