Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Will Google Become God?

On his blog posting Can Google Get Gods Mind Ragu asks a mysterious question that actually hints at the future of the Internet. My initial response was:

Google is an early entity on the path to universal knowledge. In the near future there will be Internet sites with such a vast store of knowledge and easy access that some people will literally worship them. Arthur C. Clarke and other science fiction writers have written about this. Many people will achieve a level of immortality by linking their personal databases with a virtual entity such as those found in Second Life. People will be able to talk with them for years after their physical bodies are gone.

Here is the remainder of that thought, in case people are interested in exploring the topic in greater detail.

Virtual Reality (VR) has held the public interest in cinema, television, and literature since the 1980s. Movies like the Matrix series, television shows such as VR.5 and books like William Gibson's Necromancer were extremely popular. The concept still attracts millions with online games and sites including SecondLife. Nevertheless these developments only represent the cusp of an incredible phenomena that virtual reality will become in the decades ahead.

Rather than cloning physical forms, technically savvy individuals will soon offer willing participants a method to upload themselves into vast permanent databases. All the data a person has generated in a lifetime will be coupled with a virtual entity that looks and sounds exactly like the original living being. Of course memory, smells, and other mental constructs will not be integrated for many more decades but eventually even these will become a part of one's virtual construct.

Search engines like Google will allow individuals to search virtual worlds for people that look and think like they do. The foundations of this experience are coming together at sites like MySpace. Online dating sites are slowly getting more sophisticated. Online education centers are getting closer to providing a true virtual classroom experience. Virtual phone booths and conference rooms are now only a matter of bandwidth and some slight tweaking of holographic imagery away from reality.

When these developments mature, and they definitely will, the Internet will allow people to worship in virtual spiritual centers, work in virtual office spaces, and die in virtual hospices. In fact, if a person does not want to die, their virtual entity will be permitted to continue living and even grow more powerful long after their physical body dies.

Babies will be born before a virtual audience, some will not even be real babies but entirely fictional children, born to childless virtual couples or corporations or religions. An advertising firm recently created a fake teen online site for just that purpose. Eventually someone at Google or the next major web corporation will create a virtual baby that is all-knowing and all-seeing and everlasting. Global surveillance systems tied to all-encompassing databases, all stored in a bomb-proof data center deep under some mountain, will support this new messiah.

Laugh now in private while you still can but even today you cannot imagine the amount of your daily activities visible to vast security agencies like the National Security Agency in the United States. Super computers at the NSA and Google will look like the IBM 8086 computer looks to us now.

When this does happen you can expect to find people sitting at their computers, and then inside their computers, watching and waiting for a signal, a sign, or any clue that this great entity, the Virtual God in the Internet, is shining a light in their direction. Until that day comes they will worship this great Virtual God hoping for a cure, a job, or a even just a meal to come their way.

Author's Note: This is the first article in the series. The second article can be found at India God Google and Technology.

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