The most disruptive company on the planet prepares to be even more disruptive
A is for AI
Artificial Intelligence (AI) could solve humanity’s problems. AI research could lead to wonderful things. It could also lead to our ultimate annihilation.
Google had its metal fingers in a huge number of AI projects, now Alphabet does too. I’m not saying its scientists, engineers and researchers want to bring about our enslavement by a rampant robot brain, but don’t say I didn’t warn you when we’re strapped into chairs having our energy drained to power the battle bots…
B is for battle bots
Spot will remember the guy who kicked him. That man will die in laser fire.
…and talking of them: Alphabet owns Boston Dynamics, an engineering and robotics firm that developed BigDog, a truly horrifying robot – created with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – that provokes visions of a blasted wasteland with the last few humans being hunted down.
The future is looking awesome! http://t.co/iFA53b9qDC
— Andy Rubin (@Arubin) December 14, 2013
I’ll be screaming that phrase as the future version of BigDog bares down on me, shrugging off the automatic weapons fire like a cloud of gnats, coldly intoning its battle cry: THE HUMANS ARE DEAD, THE HUMANS ARE DEAD.
C is for Calico vs. Death
Rich men don’t want to die. The biggest problem that needs ‘disrupting’ is death and Calico is the Alphabet company that’s working on it. They no doubt picture utopian visions of a world where disease is eradicated. I see the consciousness of the uber-rich preserved in digital amber as AI, like Wintermute in William Gibson’s ‘Neuromancer.’
Calico’s name is shorthand for the California Life Company. Does that honestly not stink of Orwellian ‘Newspeak’ to you?
An uneasy feeling in my stomach tells me Calico could be Larry Page’s Ozymandias moment:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
D is for defence contracts
Google honored Boston Dynamics’ military contracts when it purchased the company. There’s a revolving door between the military and Google’s public lobbying efforts. Don’t expect Alphabet – shorn of that shaky connection with Google’s ‘don’t be evil’ fortune cookie motto – to be any different.
I predict its companies will go harder, faster and with less qualms about snuggling close to the military industrial complex. Google refusing DARPA cash for new Boston Dynamics projects was a sop, not a hugely principled move.
E is for…well…evil
F is for rampant financial freedom
Google release notes: – Our new name is Alphabet! We hope you like it. – fixed a bug where we were paying too much tax.
— Dan Hon is typing (@hondanhon) August 10, 2015
Why did Google become Alphabet? Well, a lot of people surmise it’s to make limboing under tax problems and swerving around monopolies regulation a lot easier. I mean, you’d have to be very cynical to think that. But I am and I do.
G is for Google
It’s still lovely right? Apart from all that cozying up to surveillance agencies and the remaining influence of Eric ‘Uncle Creepy’ Schmidt.
H is for homelessness
Google was so kind and respectful to the homeless people of San Francisco. Alphabet will be just as cuddly, surely? Cuddly like a parasite with a multicoloured shell and enough teeth to sheer your leg right off.
I is for intelligence agencies
J is for juicing the ad wars
Google is now free to focus on its real core mission. No, not making all the world’s information searchable. That’s just a lovely side-benefit. Google’s true reason to exist is pumping so many ads into your life that you come to believe that everyone has glowing white teeth and bright, dead smiles. If it can design a way to broadcast them straight into your brain stem, it will.
K is for killer drones
See ‘A’ and ‘B’.
L is for lasers
Google patented a version of Google Glass that shoots lasers. Totally cool, totally fine.
M is for mapping dominance
Own the maps and you own people’s perspective on the world. Just look at the Mercator Projection.
N is for news control
Wait and see, Alphabet will start hiring more journalists in earnest. You want evidence? See Apple’s news efforts. See Facebook’s news pressure. See Twitter.
O is for odious culture
If entitlement was a gadget, Page and Brin would own the patent on it.
P is for power, unchecked and untrammelled
Could Alphabet look and sound any more like the evil mega-corp in a sci-fi dystopia? The answer is no, no it could not.
R is for (permanent) revolution
In 2100, Alphabet becomes a smaller component of Earth Inc as Page and Brin (by this point, brains perched inside exoskeletons and backed up by an army of AIs based on their own brain patterns) decide that this planet is over and announce a bigger push into asteroid mining.
Earth Inc’s off-world bases remain in beta, starving people staring at their Gmail accounts desperately hoping for an invite in the global lottery.
S is for surveillance
T is for totalitarian
See ‘S’ and ‘I’, see the giant posters of Brin and Page which will one day tower over us, winking and scowling in an endless loop. See all your information sold off for convenience. See a darkness creeping in at the periphery of your vision.
U is for unscrupulous
See ‘H’, see ‘K’, see ‘O’.
V is for video dominance
W is for weapons sales
See ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘D’, ‘K’.
Y is for YouTube Stars
See this thing I wrote about how Vine stars are essentially a carbuncle on humanity’s ass? Replace all the references to ‘Vine’ with ‘YouTube’ and you’ll get it. Unless you are one, in which case, you’ll send me angry comments.
Z is for ziggurat
Alphabet is a monument it might be rather tricky to demolish, even if we suddenly find we really want to see it gone.