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Tech by VICE

Google Is Everything

The company already owns our digital lives, why not our physical existence, too?

by Jason Koebler
May 31 2015, 12:00pm

Image: Flickr/C_osett

It seems likely that, within five years, every product you need to live a comfortable life in a developed country, outside of perhaps food, might be produced by Google. The company already owns our digital lives, why not our physical existence, too?

Much of this has already happened, of course. My Android phone knows far too much about me, and our digital and physical lives are increasingly inseparable. I am writing this post on a Google-enabled word processor.

Buzzfeed's Charlie Warzel notes that Google's walled garden of digital information collecting suites is getting much larger. Are you ready for its "Photos" product to scan your images and automatically detect what products or services you need (and for the ads that will follow)?

But Google doesn't want to just own our digital lives. It wants the transition between what is "digital" and what is "physical" to be indistinguishable. It wants to put data collection capabilities in our clothes, in our bodies, in our cars. It wants to be our clothes and our cars and our appliances and our homes.

"When everything is a computer, nothing is a computer"

As a quick reminder, let's quickly list off some of the different industries Google has its hands in. It's entirely possible that, pretty soon, you'll be able to use Google products or services for your:

  • Cell phone (service, hardware, and operating system)
  • Email
  • Documents and file storage
  • Photo storage
  • Car operating system and navigation
  • Car (driverless)
  • Clothing
  • Internet service (Fiber or Loon)
  • Cable service (Fiber)
  • Face computer (Glass, contact lenses, or otherwise)
  • Watch (Android Wear)
  • Television (Android TV, Chromecast)
  • Computer (Chromebook)
  • Tablet (Various Android devices)
  • Home appliances (Nest)

Outside of food and water, what else do humans even use or need?

It's possible, likely, even, that your Google-enabled T-shirt will communicate with your Google car that's operated by Google Maps, which is informed by a satellite company that can see your face in near real-time. Your thermostat will change automatically when you change out of your Google-enabled T-shirt into your Google-enabled sweatshirt and get under your Google blanket.

And if you don't have a Google T-shirt, Google Photos will notice when you snap a selfie and will try to sell you one. Or it will notice that you've got a stain on it, and it will try to sell you Tide. Or it will notice you've got a rip in your shirt and it will try to sell you a new shirt.

Google's mission is to make its products work together, to remove any sort of "friction," perceived and otherwise, that exists between you and the company. Google wants to be so omnipresent in your life that you don't even know it's there. "Seamlessness" is the goal of the company at large. This is not a secret.

"I have always believed that technology should do the hard work—discovery, organization, communication—so users can do what makes them happiest: living and loving, not messing with annoying computers," Google CEO Larry Page wrote in a letter to his investors in 2012. "That means making our products work together seamlessly. People shouldn't have to navigate Google to get stuff done. It should just happen."

When everything is a computer, nothing is a computer. Instead, it's just a thing you use ~seamlessly~ while you live and love. Google, meanwhile, is the one who gets the data from its products and seamlessly sells it to someone else.

Earlier this year, Google's Eric Schmidt said that there will come a time where "the internet will disappear.

"It will be part of your presence all the time," he said.

And so will Google.