Is Google TOO Smart? The Growing Power of Big Tech and What It Means for You

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Bilal Javed

Have you ever felt like Google knows everything about you? From your searches to your locations, Google is constantly learning and influencing your decisions. 

While this convenience is appealing, it raises serious concerns about privacy and control. Consider a world where a few tech titans control not only your online interactions, but also your healthcare, education, and even the food you eat. 

This isn’t a futuristic scenario; it’s happening now. Google and other Big Tech companies are rapidly expanding their reach, offering many benefits but also presenting significant risks. 

Are we handing over too much power and privacy to these corporations? In this article, we’ll explore the dual nature of Google’s intelligence and its acquisitions and mergers as it expands. 

The Dual Nature of Google’s Intelligence

Google’s intelligence has two sides: it’s great at understanding text but has trouble understanding web pages.

Smart in Understanding Text

Google’s text comprehension has improved with updates like Panda, Hummingbird, and BERT. These updates help Google understand the meaning and context of words better. 

For example, if you search for “best running shoes,” Google knows you want to buy shoes, not just read about them. These changes make SEO more about quality content than keyword stuffing. Writers now need to create useful, informative content to rank well.

Dumb in Understanding Structure

Despite its text skills, Google struggles with web page structure. It often fails to interpret metadata and schema, which provide important information about a page. This means Google can miss key details, making it harder for site owners to convey their page’s purpose. 

For instance, a recipe site might not rank well if Google doesn’t understand its structure, affecting its visibility in searches. It emphasizes how clear metadata is necessary for Google to properly interpret and rank web pages.

After conducting tests in 2016, researchers Feng Liu, Yong Shi, and Yin Liu determined that Google’s AI IQ was 47.28, which was just slightly lower than the average IQ they found for a 6-year-old human: 55.5. (source)

Google’s Expanding Influence Through Mergers and Acquisitions

Google has bought over 200 companies since it started in 1998. Some big buys include Android in 2005, YouTube in 2006, and DoubleClick in 2007. These purchases helped Google dominate mobile phones, online videos, and advertising. 

While these acquisitions made Google stronger, many people worry it has too much power. Surveys show most Americans think these mergers reduce competition. 

Even Google’s employees have concerns about the company’s influence and its impact on society. They feel uneasy about how much control Google has over many aspects of our lives.

The Widening Reach of Big Tech

Big Tech companies are expanding into essential industries, impacting various sectors and raising concerns about their growing influence.

Google’s Expansion into Essential Industries

1. Agriculture

  • Google’s Mineral division uses AI to help farmers grow more crops with fewer resources.

2. Healthcare

  • Alphabet’s Verily works on disease detection and health data analytics.
  • Google offers the Healthcare API to help hospitals use its cloud services.

3. Education

  • Google created career certificate programs to help people get tech jobs without needing a four-year degree.

Comparison with Other Big Tech Companies

1. Amazon

  • Moving into healthcare with Amazon Care and Amazon Pharmacy.

2. Microsoft

  • Offers tools for healthcare, education, and remote work software.

3. Apple

  • Tracks health with the Apple Watch and offers the Apple Card for payments.

Implications of Big Tech’s Cross-Industry Influence

The expansion of Big Tech into essential sectors can reduce competition and limit consumer choices. This consolidation of power raises concerns about companies prioritizing profits over the public good, leading to calls for stricter antitrust enforcement and regulation to manage their growing influence.

Big Tech’s Role in Policymaking

Big Tech companies significantly influence government policies and face challenges with current regulations struggling to manage their power.

Influence on Government and Policy

Big Tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft have a major impact on government policies. They spend huge amounts on lobbying to shape laws that benefit their businesses. 

Big Tech leaders often join government advisory groups to offer their expertise on technology issues. For example, Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt have advised on state functions and crisis responses like COVID-19. 

This close relationship gives Big Tech significant influence over policy decisions. Experts call them “super policy entrepreneurs” because they use their wealth, data, and tech power to shape policies in their favor. 

By controlling vast amounts of user data and key digital infrastructure, they wield considerable leverage over policymakers.

Regulatory Challenges and Responses

Regulating Big Tech is challenging as current laws can’t keep pace with their rapid expansion. Existing antitrust laws are insufficient for addressing the unique challenges of digital platforms. 

The EU has introduced the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act to curb unfair practices, enhance content moderation, and give users more control over their data. 

However, more comprehensive frameworks are necessary. Potential solutions include updating antitrust laws, stricter data regulations, increased transparency for political ads, and holding Big Tech executives accountable for violations. 

As Big Tech’s power grows, it is crucial to develop strong policies to manage their influence while balancing innovation benefits with the risks of unchecked corporate power.

Balancing Benefits and Risks

Big Tech’s growth brings both benefits and risks. Here’s how to understand the positives and manage the potential downsides.

Positive Aspects of Big Tech’s Growth

Improved Accessibility and Efficiency

  • Easier access to essential services like healthcare and education.
  • More efficient management of daily tasks through tech advancements.

Innovations and Advancements

  • Quick access to information.
  • Enhanced communication tools.
  • Numerous innovations improving our lives.

Strategies for Mitigating Risks

However, with their growth, there are also risks. To balance these, governments can create new rules to ensure fair competition and protect our data. 

It’s also important for people to stay informed and advocate for their rights. By being aware and involved, we can enjoy the benefits of Big Tech while minimizing potential downsides.