EU

Google's privacy policy? Why the EU should just back off

The European Union is up in arms over Google's privacy policy changes. But linking our apps and using the data to guide our choices and the information we see is a vital step toward a sentient web that will make us all more efficient.

The EU regulations were drafted for a long-gone and irrelevant world based on paper, fax machines and telephones. Photo: Shutterstock

Written in San Jose and dispatched to TechRepublic a few days later from a coffee shop via a free wi-fi service at 15Mbps.

Google announces that it is about to change its privacy policy - and the European Union has a hissy fit. What's the big deal?

All the information that Google gathers about us - what we do, who we are, what we search for, watch, query, and communicate with - is to be linked so it can bias the search results and advertisements we see on our screens. Hurrah. Google bring it on - let's have even more.

This move is a big deal, but not because the EU is getting upset, but because it is another vital step on the path to a sentient web.

It is what we do in our heads. It is what we do in groups and in companies - we share information, experience, knowledge and wisdom. Well, hey-ho, we are going to get our machines to do the same - and about time.

I don't know about you but I need all the help I can get. I certainly can't work any harder or longer, so I need to work more efficiently. But that need has been around for decades. The difference is that a bigger, better, faster, more powerful laptop won't help me because I am the limiting factor. I can't read, think, type, search and assimilate things any faster. Only an intelligent machine can help me get smarter and work more effectively.

The problem is that I can't get an IBM Watson inside my laptop. However, it is feasible that he will be available in the Cloud. And if he is, then like the secretary of old he has to watch what I do, how I do it, and then go and figure out how to help me. Making me more efficient and effective - that is the name of the game.

To my mind it is a great pity that Google is restricting its new policy to just Google Apps. If it could be extended to everything on my laptop and mobile phone, I reckon I would gain even more.

We don't have to fast-forward too many years into the future to see that we will need a data aggregator to feed an artificial intelligence designed to help us become more efficient, creative, and effective.

So what's the EU gripe? Time to change these laws and attitudes, methinks. After all, they were drafted for a world based on paper, fax machines and telephones, which is long gone and irrelevant.

About

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

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