In the latest installment of its semi-annual report, and the first since the Edward Snowden revelations, Google puts an emphasis on the project’s limits.Read more. [Image: Google]
Google’s Motorola division makes phones. People make calls on those phones. And now that mobile has eaten the world, they often reach out to business associates and loved ones in noisy situations like “large stadiums, busy streets, restaurants, and emergency situations.” Which makes it harder to communicate.
Thankfully, then, Google has patented a new possible solution to the age old problem of talking with each in loud places: “Communication can be reasonably improved” by the application of an electronic throat tattoo, which could dampen “acoustic noise.”
Sounds reasonable! Just look at the guy in the patent drawing. He’s happy! Who wouldn’t want a neck tattoo that provides “auxillary voice input to a mobile communication device”?
Read more. [Image: USPTO]
Which is not quite a floating data center for the dystopian future we hoped it would be.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Installing a computer in your arm, patent attacks on Google, what killed you in 1912, Obamacare’s winners, and the day’s hottest IPO.
It’s been nearly three years since Google rolled out its Ngram Viewer, allowing armchair historians to plot the trajectories of words and phrases over time based on an enormous corpus of data extracted from the Google Books digitization project. Since then, there have been numerous studies seeking to glean some cultural significance from the graphs of falling and rising word usage. And the graphs themselves have inspired imitators: Recently, the engineering team behind Rap Genius introduced Ngram-style graphing of historical word frequency in rap lyrics, and, more bizarrely, New York Times wedding announcements. (You can even compare the hiphop and matrimonial datasets.)
As the Ngram model extends its influence, Google continues to tinker, making improvements to the Ngram Viewer’s already slick interface. Last year saw a major upgrade, with a sizable increase in the underlying data spanning English and seven other languages, as well as the introduction of part-of-speech tagging and mathematical operators that allowed for more sophisticated searches. Today, meet Ngram Viewer 3.0. While the corpus itself hasn’t expanded in this version, the search features have become even more useful, especially now that wildcards are in the mix.
Last week, another distasteful use of your personal information by Google came to light: The company plans to attach your name and likeness to advertisements delivered across its products without your permission.
As happens every time the search giant does something unseemly, Google’s plan to turn its users into unwitting endorsers has inspired a new round of jabs at Google’s famous slogan “Don’t be evil.” While Google has deemphasized the motto over time, it remains prominent in the company’s corporate code of conduct, and, as a cornerstone of its 2004 Founder’s IPO Letter, the motto has become an inescapable component of the company’s legacy.
Famous though the slogan might be, its meaning has never been clear. In the 2004 IPO letter, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin clarify that Google will be “a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains.” But what counts as “good things,” and who constitutes “the world?” The slogan’s significance has likely changed over time, but today it seems clear that we’re misunderstanding what “evil” means to the company. For today’s Google, evil isn’t tied to malevolence or moral corruption, the customary senses of the term. Rather, it’s better to understand Google’s sense of evil as the disruption of its brand of (computational) progress.
Before Roni Zeiger founded Smart Patients, an online community where patients can crowdsource medical information, he was a full-time doctor. Because of that, he can empathize with doctors who complain about patients who think they can diagnose their symptoms using the Internet.
“Maybe 10 years ago we were in a cultural state, as far as physicians were concerned, where I might say to you in a doctor’s room, ‘Oh shit, this patient just came in with twelve pages of print-outs that he found on Google and Web MD, and he thinks he’s got pellagra.’ I think we’re almost over that,” he said during an interview at The Atlantic Meets the Pacific on Wednesday.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
n May, Google sent a team of trekkers to the Galapagos Islands to travel the terrain and dive in the seas, collecting images for its Street View tool.
Today, after a few months spent processing those images, Google has released the Street View sites, giving users everywhere the opportunity to explore these unique ecosystems remotely.
Read more. [Image: Google]
The first Google Doodle was an out-of-office message. The day was August 30, 1998 — nearly two years after Larry Page and Sergey Brin had built a search engine in a Stanford dorm room, and less than a week before Google would officially incorporate as a company. Google was so young then, indeed, that it still had a Yahoo!-style exclamation mark as part of its logo.
Despite and maybe because of all the chaos that would come with incorporation, Brin and Larry Page spent the last week of August 1998 to go to the Burning Man festival. But before the pair could engage in some radical self-expression and/or radical self-reliance in the Nevada desert, they needed something a little less radical: a way to let people know they were away. The pair decided on a little icon — the Burning Man logo — and placed the spare stick figure behind Google’s second “o.” They published the new image to their site on the World Wide Web.