Let’s see, we have a company that already knows everything about us, has possibly the world’s largest computer network, has recently built one of the biggest artificial-intelligence teams in the world–a company so powerful that it feels the need to soften its dominance with the informal motto, “Don’t be evil.”
And now Google–yes, of course we’re talking about Google–has bought a military robot company call Boston Dynamics. Not just any robot maker this time–after all, it has already quietly bought seven others over the past year, apparently to provide former Android chief Andy Rubin another chance at a moonshot project. No, unlike the other robot makers, this company makes machines by the names of BigDog, Atlas, and Cheetah that can variously outrun Usain Bolt and hurl cinderblocks 17 feet.
So, we’ve got the potential for killer robots that know where you live and can outrun you when they find you. What’s not to like?
All jokes about Skynet, Terminators, and Robocops aside, the latest acquisition raises a serious question about what Google has in mind. It looks for all the world like it’s pursuing yet another seemingly crazy side project that has nothing to do with its mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. It’s now trying out self-driving cars, home package delivery, wearable computers, and anti-aging technologies.
Clearly it’s time for Google to update its mission statement, not to mention the “Ten things we know to be true,” a list that includes such outdated gems as “It’s best to do one thing really, really well.” …