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Life After Google

The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy

By George Gilder
13-minute read
Audio available
Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy by George Gilder

Life After Google (2018), shows how the future may instead lie in the “cryptocosm” and its blockchain architecture, which allows everyone to exert individual control of data and security online. Since the dawn of the internet, there have been tremendous progress in technology and the way people live their lives. And at the heart of it all is Google, a company that has managed to build a global way of thinking around their business model and vision. But it’s also falling rapidly out of favor with users for its lack of security precautions. Google may once have dominated, but we should prepare for a world that is no longer defined by it.

  • Business buffs who want to know where the future is headed
  • Technology enthusiasts who want to understand the latest developments
  • Anyone with an interest in their online data security

George Gilder is a leading economic and technological thinker, and has been for the past 40 years. He is the author of 19 books including Life After Television (1990) and The Scandal of Money (2016). He is also a founding fellow of the Discovery Institute, a think tank for public policy.

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Life After Google

The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy

By George Gilder
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy by George Gilder
Synopsis

Life After Google (2018), shows how the future may instead lie in the “cryptocosm” and its blockchain architecture, which allows everyone to exert individual control of data and security online. Since the dawn of the internet, there have been tremendous progress in technology and the way people live their lives. And at the heart of it all is Google, a company that has managed to build a global way of thinking around their business model and vision. But it’s also falling rapidly out of favor with users for its lack of security precautions. Google may once have dominated, but we should prepare for a world that is no longer defined by it.

Key idea 1 of 8

Google's system of the world revolves around big data and advertising revenues, with massive servers to support it all.

Of all the information giants on the market today, it is Google that has defined our current system of the world, the set of ideas that inform a society’s technology and institutions, and shape the lives of its citizens.

Let’s start with Google’s vision of knowledge, which is built around big data. Google doesn’t use traditional methods for increasing knowledge, where step-by-step progress is made by working from previous ideas. Rather, its vision is to first gather all of the information in the world in one place – the cloud – before analyzing it using sophisticated algorithms and extract new information.

To enable this, Google has built an enormous database of information, a digital rendition of the real world, starting with the internet before growing to include everything from books and languages to maps and even faces through facial recognition software, which you comb through when you use Google. And since Google wants access to all information, any sort of privacy runs contrary to its model.

Next is Google’s vision of value. The company makes 95 percent of its revenue through advertising; instead of paying with money to use Google, you pay with your time and attention. Of course, most people don’t want to look at adverts – which explains why the use of ad blockers increased 102 percent between 2015 and 2016 alone. Google, however, is famously subtle, placing sponsored links at the top of searches where they blend in and don’t seem so obtrusive.

To manage and facilitate the online architecture that all this data and advertising requires, Google has built their own enormous data center near the town of The Dalles, Oregon. It currently houses 75,000 computer servers and handles 3.5 billion searches per day – that’s 1.5 trillion every year!

These servers have enabled Google to expand with web services like Gmail and Google Docs, while simultaneously creating a new yardstick for tech companies: the more storage and processing you can offer, the better you are.

But is this really the case? Jaron Lanier, widely considered to be the inventor of virtual reality, refers to these huge centers as “Siren Servers,” invoking the Greek myth where sailors are drawn to their death on the rocks by the alluring song of the Siren bird-women. Is he right to call them so? Could these very same centers, which have given Google and others apparent market dominance, be pulling them toward an early grave?

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