It's All Over But the Googling


I am by nature an information junkie, which was fine when it was possible to keep up with everything. Like 20 years ago. But now it pains me to admit that I can’t keep pace. I feel like a kitten plunked down in the middle of a hailstorm. How to keep track of all those damn ice balls?

Trump, for example.

Google, for another. What happened to this company, started in a dorm room by two young Stanford students whose motto was: “Don’t Be Evil”?

I read in the Bay Area News Group, April 21, that “Google has filed a patent application for technology that would allow it to monitor mobile-device users’ vital signs and facial expressions so it can adjust search results according to the emotional reactions they generate.”

Whatever could go wrong with this? Every time you search for something, Google will collect and sell to advertisers data about your “body temperature, pupil dilation, eye twitch, facial flushing, heart rate, facial features.” They think they’re so smart. They believe those reactions to be triggered solely by the advertisement a person is viewing on her smartphone. They’ve failed to take into account the other possible origins of these physiological responses. What if the user is standing in line at Starbucks, scrolling through ads for yoga wear on her smartphone while at the same time drooling over the hot barista? That could cause pupil dilation, elevated heart rate and the incitement of twitching.

Or what if a viewer is on drugs? If news reports are accurate, that would be millions of us. Viewers could be high on meth or oxy when they’re looking at an ad for, say, a Mercedes, leading the company to think, “Gosh, there are a lot of potential customers out there, more than we ever dreamed.”

It’s scary enough that Big Google knows our exact location at all times, can record our conversations and vacuum up our emails. Now they plan to invade us more profoundly by hoovering up our most personal, intimate medical data. If I want a physical exam, I’ll visit my own doctor, thank you very much!

Even scarier, though, is this: If Silicon Valley’s wunderkind can develop apps to detect and upload physiological bits and bytes from us, what’s to stop them them from creating an app to download zombie bytes through our smartphones into our brains? All of a sudden, we’ll develop a yen to buy a Mars Bar, or an antique drum, or the newest bra. We could be walking down a street in Manhattan when, just-like-that, a few thousand of us automatons rush toward the nearest “Victoria’s Secret” store. Must have new push-up bra. Now! Women stampeding, fighting at the bra table, hell-bent on the perfect combination of lace, underwire and elastic. An advertiser’s wet dream, but a consumer’s nightmare.

Google’s new motto should be “All Evil, All The Time.”

Here’s even more information I can’t or don’t want to keep up with: The Singularity. In case you missed the memo, a famous computer genius by the name of Ray Kurzweil predicts that by the year 2045 technological advances in computers, nanotechnology, genetics, robotics and artificial intelligence will have progressed so far beyond our understanding that we will be irreversibly transformed into a mind meld of human and technology. Artificial Intelligence! Coming to a brain near you!

All this talk of AI makes me cringe. And sometimes cry. We can’t even figure out how a hummingbird can flap its wings 70 times per second. Or why a human loves one person and not another. Or why a lone penguin named Dindim swims 5,000 miles every year to the beach in Brazil where Pereira de Souza rescued him five years ago. Dindim spends up to eight months each year living with the retired fisherman in his home on the island.

BTW, if you don’t know about Dindim’s love story, you must Google it right now. But please be aware that your heart rate will increase, your pupils will dilate, and your smiley muscles will be stretched to the max, leading an advertiser to think you might be looking to buy a penguin.

Progress. It’s not for sissies.

Rosie Sorenson of Richmond, Calif., is humor columnist for the Foolish Times and a frequent contributor to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop website ( Email

From The Progressive Populist, June 15, 2016

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