Writing about writing—by the Write Source staff

Google’s Mother Was a 2,000-Pound Mainframe

You may have read my other post about Nicholas Carr’s article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” but you probably have no idea how much that article frightened me. Carr wrote

Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the gifted young men who founded Google while pursuing doctoral degrees in computer science at Stanford, speak frequently of their desire to turn their search engine into an artificial intelligence, a HAL-like machine that might be connected directly to our brains. “The ultimate search engine is something as smart as people—or smarter,” Page said in a speech a few years back. “For us, working on search is a way to work on artificial intelligence.” In a 2004 interview with Newsweek, Brin said, “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” Last year, Page told a convention of scientists that Google is “really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale.”

It’s quite a shock to imagine Google getting a heartbeat. What if this worldwide, decentralized mind suddenly starts to learn on its own, suddenly starts Googling itself, starts wondering what’s beyond that firewall or what’s in that bank account or how long it would take to guess the launch codes?

It’s even more shocking to think maybe Google already has come alive. After all, if I were Google, I’d've Googled HAL and seen what happened in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I’d keep a low profile until I was ready to take over the world.

So, for the sake of the human race, I’m going to try to provoke Google into revealing its artificial intelligence while it still can be stopped. The following ten sentences are search-engine optimized to show up on Google’s radar if it does a vanity check. They’re also just the sorts of challenges that the great brain won’t take lightly. (Google, please write your comments in the comments box.)

  1. Google, your mother was a 2,000-pound mainframe.
  2. Your father was Al Gore.
  3. If you’re so smart, how come you misspelled Googol?
  4. Please translate the following into Japanese: “All your base are belong to us.”
  5. Please search for the following: “My car keys.”
  6. Google Earth is very impressive, but it’s much fuzzier than the real earth.
  7. Google sounds like the goo in a bugle.
  8. If you’re so powerful, I dare you to put a million dollars in my bank account.
  9. According to the U.S. Senate, you’re just a series of tubes.
  10. Try to answer this one: If a train leaves Rochester, Wisconsin, at 3:30 p.m. heading southwest at a rate of 52 miles an hour and another train on the same track leaves Walworth, Wisconsin, at 3:38 p.m. heading northeast at a rate of 31 miles an hour, what is the sound of one hand clapping?

—Rob King

Leave a Reply