We all know Google has access to a lot of personal information. From email to social media, search engines to robotics, Google has its hand in just about every aspect of cyber life and, with its latest acquisition, Google now has the technology to come into your home.
“Let me tell you another story here. Google reach expands into your home. They just bought Nest for $3.2 billion,” Glenn said on radio this morning. “What is Nest? Oh, they are the ones that make your smart thermostats and fire alarms.”
It was announced late yesterday that Google plans to purchase Nest Labs for $3.2 billion – its second-largest acquisition ever. Nest Labs develops high-tech versions of devices like thermostats and smoke detectors.
On the surface, ‘smart’ home technology like the thermostats and smoke detectors developed by Nest don’t sound all that bad. After all, we all enjoy modern conveniences that at one point in time may have seemed incomprehensible. But when you consider how this technology can evolve, the scope of information gathering is frightening.
“So do you remember when we said that they are going to be able to turn down your thermostat; they will be able to control the temperature in your house,” Glenn asked. “[We told] you, don't put these thing this is your house because they will also gather information on what your sleeping patterns are; when are you leaving; where are you going; who's coming over? Because they will have all that information.”
“I don't think Google is necessarily going to be doing that on a daily basis,” Stu interjected.
“Not today,” Glenn agreed. “But why give them the power?”
Privacy concerns are clearly one of the major concerns surrounding this merger. The New York Times reports Nest will continue to operate independently under its own brand and expand its portfolio of connected versions of what it calls “unloved but important devices in the home.” Tony Fadell, Nest’s chief executive, will report to Larry Page, co-founder and chief executive of Google.
To Glenn’s point, Google might not be interested in the depth the information available from Nest immediately, but with time, the benefits of that data will reveal itself. Technology companies are obviously trying to one-up each other in terms of the services they offer and the information available to them, and this acquisition places Google surely in the forefront.
“Look, many of [Google’s] competitors seem to be stuck in the present,” Glenn observed. “I wrote on the top of the chalkboard [in my office], ‘Forget about today because by the time you figure out today, tomorrow is already here.’ It's all about tomorrow because of the increasing rapidity of technology, the growth of technology… You have got to be looking over the horizon.”
From Stu’s perspective, the most frightening part of the this technology boom is the opportunity it gives the government to access some or all of this data.
“All this stuff is scary, but that's the only part that really bothers me. I want them to see what's coming in the future. I don't want them to monitor me. I don't want them to turn information over to the government,” Stu explained. “That's where these things fall apart. It was the same problem Michael Moore talked about in his movie about how big companies wind up working so closely with the government, that it's not a big company anymore. It's just an arm of the government. It's crony capitalism.”
In the case of Google, however, Glenn sees the future unfolding a little differently.
“[Google] will not be an arm of the government. The government will be an arm of Google in the end. That's what you have to understand. Who in the government is going to stand against Google? They will have every bit of information, especially if we keep electing the worst of our society,” Glenn concluded. “I'm telling you, Google has the goods on everybody. Forget the NSA. Google will have the goods on everybody. You stand against the corporation; you are done… The world's changing in such a rapid and very exciting way – unless Google traps all of us, and they are the ones that could trap us all.”