Google Flu Trends... What else does Google know about you?
GLENN: The story last night on Drudge was Google Flu Trends and they are launching something called, you know, the Google Flu Trends and it's -- basically they take information from Google that you search for like flu symptoms or muscle aches or fever and they compile it on a map and if there's a huge surge in searches in one area, chances are the flu is breaking out there, then they can find the breakout. Government already monitors this kind of stuff using emergency room datas and information from doctors, but the search data shows that they can get that information for as much as a week prior. I mean, you are feeling pretty bad and so you Google search and then you let it go for a week and you are like, I better go to the hospital.
Now, I know some people saw that last night and went... what? What are they doing tracking? It's not personalized data. They supposedly can't see that I searched for muscle aches or Ring Dings, which is much more likely. They could just see that someone in my general area searched for it. You know, I'm a guy who -- well, you remember Digital Angels, Stu? Digital Angel was a chip that they could -- oh, and it's coming -- that they could put into you, and we were talking about this before 9/11 and Stu was like, that's crazy, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I said, you know what? Oh, come on, you did.
STU: Where do you invent these conversations from? You invent them in your head. I want to hear a tape. We're on the radio all the time.
GLENN: Oh, and who is the keeper of the tape? Oh, that would be you.
STU: Me? I don't have the tapes.
GLENN: Oh, interesting, isn't it?
STU: I mean, I might be a little less reactionary than you but I mean, I can see the concern there. You don't want every --
GLENN: You were so -- oh, jeez. I can't --
STU: You have to question everything you say.
GLENN: I can't -- hang on just a second. We'll be back after this short break.
(Digital angel spoof)
GLENN: Okay, we're back. So we were having a conversation before 9/11 and I said, you want to chip people? You don't have to chip people now. You've got a phone. They know where -- they know where you are (whispering). They are watching you right now. Somebody's going -- they're going, where's Steve? Oh, you mean Steve the plumber? Yeah, where is he? Longitude....
So anyway, they know right where you are, and it's fine. It's fine if you trust the government. And I said back before 9/11, all you need is hunger, all you need is time where you're like, oh, boy, how am I going to buy food, I don't have a job, is fear. Somebody could be coming after me or, you know, is our country on the edge. That's all you have to do. You add those two things together and this kind of technology and you are seeing it right now.
Six months ago they took a poll and they said is the government doing too much and it was in the 60 percentile range where they said, no, you know what, government is doing way too much and they need to stay out of the private sector, they need to stay away. Well, now that we've had some fear interjected, now that number has reversed itself. Now it's like in the 40 percentile range with people saying, no, the government should stay out. People are saying I want more government. That's what happens. When people get afraid, they need someone to hold their hand. That's why I've always said Jesus and Hitler had an awful lot in common, and I know that makes people angry, but listen to the explanation. One was good; the other was evil. Sure. Got that. But they both could look at people who were afraid, people who were living in fear, people who were hungry, people who were hopeless and they said, I've got a plan; don't worry; I'm going to take care of you; everything's going to be fine; follow me.
So you have to trust -- you know when we used to say character doesn't matter in our elected officials? Oh, it does, and we're seeing the results of it now. It does matter. And that's why in areas of times of trouble you need to be able to trust them. So I don't have a problem with Google doing this and finding -- you know, it's not like -- I mean, the government doesn't misuse information like this. I mean, it's not like, you know, I've got votes ending up in a back seat of a car of a poll worker or anything, you know? Hello.
So the big brother aspect is at work here, and I don't trust the government, but there are things that we should -- you know, there are things that we should look into and we should do. But let me play devil's advocate here for a second. Flu isn't a joke. Do you know that it cost us $10 billion in lost productivity every single year, the flu does? 36,000 people in the U.S. die from the flu every year? Can you imagine if we were having a terrorist attack like the size of 9/11, 3,000 people every month. I would think that the vast majority of the audience would support keeping track of Internet searches. I mean searches with names attached. Not like this. The vast majority already supports wiretapping and e-mail searches because of one attack that happened seven years ago that was a fraction of this size. There should just be an opt-out thing. The more data used, you can get out of the program. I mean, there are a lot of search engines out there that aren't named Google. You don't want to be a part of that program, get off that grid, although I don't want government officials knocking at my door taking my temperature every time a bunch of teenagers decide to be funny to search for vomiting and the chills at the same time.
In the end we've got to trust our government. I don't. But that's why we need to elect officials and find and seek out those people that will help us run this government that are more like us.