Google’s Troubling Vision of Social Engineering – “The Selfish Ledger”

Google’s Troubling Vision of Social Engineering – “The Selfish Ledger”

Google made headlines last week when an internal communication was leaked to the public. The video was from 2016 and outlined an idea called The Selfish Ledger. The video raised a lot of questions, and was reported by media outlets all over the world.

The Video

The video is a 9-minute film that starts off with a history of Lamarckian epigenetics. The title of the video is an homage to Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book, The Selfish Gene. Google suggests that data profiles can be build up in order to modify behaviors. The so-called ledger of our device use. Actions, decisions, preferences, movement, and relationships are something that can be conceivably passed on to other users much like genetic information.

The Ledger

Building on the ledger idea, the video presents a concept in which Google prompts users to select a life goal and then guides them toward it in every interaction they have with your phone. Examples include hailing an Uber or buying locally grown produce if your goal is to be environmentally conscious.

Google goes beyond self-improvement and suggests it could refine its model of human behavior at the species level.

Is Google the solver of the world’s most difficult problems?

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Erik Mahal

Music blogger, SEO and digital advertising dork, and above all - corgi aficionado