Google’s CEO Needs to Defend its Core Technologies
Sundar Pichai — CEO of Google and its Alphabet holding company — is as smart as they come, but he is obviously a round-heel.
We first learned what a pushover Pichai is last year when a few thousand snowflakes, among some 110,000 employees, protested over Google’s Project Maven for the Pentagon. Using AI for battlefield drones and robots, it may be crucial to fighting terrorism. But Pichai withdrew. Push him and he rolls over.
“Whoa, don’t be evil.” That used to be the Google mantra. Then it meant Google is too good to help defend the country?
Now the European Union and a few Congressmen raise questions about facial recognition technology and Pichai rolls over. It has “nefarious” potential, he says. Recognizing your face is now evil?
So now Google urges a “moratorium” on face recognition.
Is Pichai serious? If Google cannot recognize faces, how can it search for your images for you? How can it personalize its products? How can it transform all its obnoxious “minuses” into actual “ads” that you want to see?
Facial recognition is vital to virtually all next generation computer, healthcare, entertainment, advertising, police, defense, and social networking products that are the future of the company and the economy. It is crucial to smart cities that manage traffic and workable security in airports and in public places.
Internet Security is NOT “Nefarious”
You see, facial recognition — knowing it is you and not a terrorist — is the salvation of privacy. Privacy without identity is anonymity.
The results of the current anonymous regime of internet security are now obvious: three billion breaches of personal data in 2019.
Peter Thiel brought Mark Zuckerberg to Silicon Valley to launch Facebook so that the internet would not be a morass of anonymous bile and cess. “The internet needs faces,” Thiel said, and he was right.
Facial recognition is the way businesses and governments can be assured that you are not a criminal. It is the way you can take responsibility for your actions and your identity and prove your good behavior. It is imperative for almost all of Google’s plans and projects.
And Pichai thinks it is “nefarious”?
How can Google seamlessly allow personal private access to Android phones? How can it do away with mystifying mazes of passwords and PINs? How can it follow you across the city in Google Maps with augmented reality?
How can Google “save your life” as it promises to do with new personal healthcare services, if it cannot even recognize you? Google supposedly plans to integrate your health and medical and fitness records with your genome and smart phone. It’s the next frontier of public health.
As the Financial Times reports in an interview with David Feinberg, Google’s healthcare champion, describing Google’s efforts to enhance the accuracy of mammograms by using medical records and genetic information. Feinberg said, “There is incredible power in the ability… [of] combining different data sets.”
The FT remarked that “even more important than wearables are ambient sensors: bedside devices, under-mattress sensors, sensors integrated into toilet seats.” Google has patented an array of “non-invasive health monitoring devices.”
So Google’s view is that Google can recognize your genome and gauge your fitness and health and vital signs from your mattress and toilet seat. But it cannot recognize your face?
Or does Google actually mean that only Google can recognize faces? Facebook can’t? Nor can the US government?
Maybe it’s only the Chinese government that is not permitted to know who anybody is? Thus, it can adopt the TSA regime of treating almost everyone as a possible terrorist.
Or should we return to the earlier US policy during WWII. before face recognition when we incarcerated all the Japanese in America in concentration camps?
If you don’t know who anyone is, that is the outcome. Facial recognition is at the heart of the advance of individuality and privacy, health and security, that will be a crucial contribution of the next generation of technology.
We have to understand that computers and cameras cannot invade privacy. Only people can. Contrary to the Silicon Valley mythology of singularities and machine minds, computers and cameras are completely ignorant collections of bits and bytes that only become significant in combination with human minds.
Banning this technology is like banning table knives because they could be used to stab someone.
Pichai’s moratorium on facial recognition would have little or no effect on Google, which sustains all its AI and R&D with advertising revenues. But it would stop startup rivals in their tracks.
Perhaps, that is the real goal. But I doubt it. Pichai just is an engineer who’s unused to being criticized or pressured from the forces of political correctness.
As CEO, he has to learn how to defend the core technologies of his company — or Life After Google will happen even sooner than I thought.
Editor, Gilder’s Daily Prophecy