The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I, for one, welcome our new computer based overlords

I spoke recently with an old friend who is a bandwidth broker. He buys and sells bandwidth on fiber-optic networks around the world. And he told me something that I found not completely surprising, but I certainly hadn't known: Google controls more network fiber than any other organization. This is not to say that Google owns all that fiber, just that they control it through agreements with network operators. I find two very interesting aspects to this story: 1) that Google has acquired—or even needs to acquire—so much bandwidth, and; 2) that they don't own it, since probably the cheapest way to pick up that volume of fiber would be to simply buy out any number of backbone providers like Level 3 Communications.

When Being a Verb is Not Enough: Google wants to be YOUR Internet.

A long staple of science fiction is the sentient computer. From When Harlie was One and The Adolescence of P-1 to The Forbin Project, we've had computers becoming aware and then possibly trying to take over the world (or the moon, in the case of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) but in all these cases, it was a single computer gaining self-awareness; never was it a cluster of machines (well, maybe the Borg but those aren't exactly computers we're talking about).

But Google?

Google has thousands of computers, all networked. Each computer is simple, but then again, so is a single neuron. But all those simple computers are connected together, again, like neurons. And I think that our conscienceness arises from the pattern of said connections; that you get emergent behavior from billions of such simple connections. And while Google is far from having billions of connections, it certainly has more connections than just about anything else. Unlike, say, my site, where you can point to a single computer (currently in Miami) and say “that's Conman Laboratories,” you just can't point to a single computer and say “that's Google,” much like you can't point to a single skin cell and say “that's Sean Conner.”

Google is more than the sum of its parts.

And if any computer, or cluster of computers, will exhibit emergent behavior, it will be Google (or more technically, the Google cluster).

I'm wondering if that hasn't already happened to some degree.

Or maybe, just maybe, Google is Skynet

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[It's the most wonderful time of the year!]

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