There’s no getting away from Google’s universe.
It has fundamentally transformed the way we connect online and with the world in the 20 years since it was created, even becoming a term along the way.
Is its patchwork of big data and open access, however, really that great? Will it be able to maintain its dominant position in the future? Because it turns out that, while having data on practically everyone on the globe, it doesn’t keep it all safe and secure.
However, if Google’s heyday is coming to an end, what will take its place? Cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and bitcoin all play a role in this.
These chapters explain how and why the Cryptocosm’s focus on security is altering and will continue to change, the world, before illustrating how and why Google’s reality is no longer tenable.
You’ll also discover:
- What is a “Siren Server”?
- Why you shouldn’t be concerned about Artificial Intelligence; and
- Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity – or lack thereof.
Chapter 1 – Google’s global system is based on large data and advertising money, with huge servers to back it up.
Google has established our contemporary global system, the collection of ideas that guide a society’s technologies and institutions and affect the lives of its inhabitants, out of all the information behemoths on the market today.
Let’s begin with Google’s information vision, which is based on big data. Google does not employ conventional methods for expanding knowledge, such as developing from prior ideas in a step-by-step manner. Instead, its ambition is to collect all of the world’s data in one location – the cloud – before analyzing it and extracting new data using advanced algorithms.
To make this possible, Google has amassed a massive database of data, a digital representation of the real world, which began with the internet and has since expanded to include everything from books and language groups to maps and even faces via face id, which you can search through when you use Google. Moreover, because Google wants access to all information, any kind of privacy is incompatible with its business model.
Then there’s Google’s value proposition. The corporation generates 95% of its money from advertising; instead of paying with money, you pay with your time and attention when you use Google. Of course, most people dislike advertisements, which is why the usage of ad blockers surged by 102 percent from 2015 to 2016. Google, on the other hand, is known for being deceptive, putting sponsored links at the top of results where they mix in and don’t appear as intrusive.
Google, on the other hand, is known for being deceptive, putting sponsored links at the top of results where they mix in and don’t appear as intrusive.
Google has created its own massive data center near The Dalles, Oregon, to handle and enable the web architecture that all this data and advertising need. It now has 75,000 computer servers and processes 3.5 billion queries each day, or 1.5 trillion per year!
These servers have allowed Google to grow its online services, such as Gmail and Google Docs, while also establishing a new benchmark for computer companies: the more storage and processing power you have, the better.
Is this, however, the case? Jaron Lanier, generally regarded as the inventor of virtual reality, refers to these massive data centers as “Siren Servers,” alluding to the Greek story of sailors being lured to their deaths on the cliffs by the enticing call of Siren bird-women. Is he correct in calling them that? Could the exact centers that have propelled Google and others to apparent market supremacy be dragging them down?
Chapter 2 – Contrary to popular belief, big data does not have to lead to harmful AI.
A “secret” event in Monterey Bay, California, in January 2017 was attended by some of the information age’s pioneers, including Google co-founder Larry Page. Their goal was to debate and plan to alert the rest of the world about the emerging concerns in the field of Artificial Intelligence, or AI.
But, given that the majority of the participants were working on AI in Silicon Valley, why would they wish to warn others about its dangers?
These Silicon Valley pioneers think that a future controlled by artificial intelligence is unavoidable. Someone else will create it if they don’t. So they can do the greatest good by becoming engaged and trying to keep people aware.
Are these threats, however, real? To learn out, we must first investigate mathematics’ past.
At a symposium in his hometown of Königsberg, Germany (present-day Kaliningrad, Russia) in 1930, mathematician David Hilbert proposed that all research may finally be simplified to mathematics in a total system — a system with a uniting theory that encompasses everything, everywhere, with no ambiguity.
However, a much younger mathematician Kurt Gödel had proven the day before at the same symposium that there can be no perfectly simple logical system. Any logical system, including mathematical ones, is based on premises that cannot be proven within the system – an outside authority is always required. This is why people may not only find but also construct systems; in fact, this is how computer science works: you create a system by specifying its rules from the outside.
AI must be a full system to be harmful in the sense that Silicon Valley believes. If it were to be complete, it could train itself without the need for human input, fast overtaking human intellect and achieving dominion over us once it had all the data in the world — as we have seen, this is a main goal of Google.
But we don’t have to be concerned since, as Gödel revealed, all logical systems are flawed. This indicates that if AI is truly a threat, it must first be trained to be such. It wouldn’t be able to accomplish it totally on its own because it would require outside authority – notably, us, the programmers.
All of these irrational worries of a despotic AI are essentially just scientists’ and engineers’ crazy notions about the ramifications of their superior intellect.
Chapter 3 – American academic institutions should follow the Thiel Foundation’s lead if they wish to embrace development.
The Guatemalan Universidad Francisco Marroquin became the first university in the Americas to accept bitcoin as a form of payment in 2013. This forward-thinking approach demonstrates how certain academic institutions are more forward-thinking than others.
Many American colleges, on the other hand, would prefer to focus on reactive policies that stifle rather than enable advancement.
For instance, Harvard University has adopted multiple resolves in recent years to mitigate climate change by avoiding fossil fuels. However, this is overly focused on teaching children how to stop things rather than how to be imaginative, think forward, and come up with future answers.
Other colleges place a greater emphasis on maintaining their own prestige than on instruction. During Stephen Trachtenberg’s 20 years as president of George Washington State University, tuition more than quadrupled from $27,000 to almost $60,000, with little apparent increase in educational quality and Trachtenberg asserting that a degree from the university acts as a “trophy” instead.
Fortunately, some institutions are pushing back against these tendencies. The fund is named after its creator and entrepreneur Peter Thiel. The Thiel Fellowship is a $100,000 fellowship given by the Thiel Foundation to encourage bright students in their early twenties or younger to drop out of college and pursue their own unique initiatives, with the goal of becoming entrepreneurs instead of academics.
Danielle Strachman and Mike Gibson led it for the first five years, then in 2015, they co-founded the 1517 Fund, a similar organization that invests in Thiel Fellows and other young startup founders.
It’s called after Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, which sparked the Protestant Reformation when he posted them on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. The 1517 Fund released its own “New 95” in October 2017. These sent the message that the educational system was preventing scientific advancements and development and that it should be defied.
Austin Russell received the Thiel Fellowship in 2013 for his startup Luminar, which develops laser-radar chips for self-driving cars. Toyota said in 2017 that it will purchase Luminar chips for its own vehicles.
In 2014, Vitalik Buterin, a college dropout who joined the closed-door meeting in Monterey Bay detailed in the preceding chapter, was awarded the fellowship to help establish the blockchain platform Ethereum.
Blockchain is a technology that has the potential to revolutionize the world. So what is it, exactly?
Chapter 4 – Bitcoin and blockchain technology herald the dawn of a new phase in internet security.
In October 2008, a mysterious figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto introduced the first cryptocurrency: bitcoin, which has since come to slowly revolutionize the society we live in.
To comprehend Bitcoin, we must first explore the cryptocosm, a new online universe coined by the author.
Personal data is stored by each person in the cryptocosm, rather than being centralized by any universal and readily targetable single hub.
Every individual has two keys, one public and one private, that are unique to their online account. When you send a message to a user, it is encrypted with the public key, but only the user’s private key can decrypt it, thus only they can read it. They use their private key to encrypt a response, leaving a unique digital signature that securely validates their identity without disclosing any personal information.
Bitcoin and its blockchain technology rely on these signatures.
Every 10 minutes or so, a block is generated, containing all of the information regarding bitcoin’s most recent activity. This contains the digital signatures that are required for every bitcoin exchange. It also has a timestamp, which indicates when the block was created.
Mining is used to produce the time-stamp. A new block can only be made when a difficult and time-consuming algorithmic challenge has been solved by combining the computing power of several machines across the network. This is what mining is all about. When it’s finished and the problem has been solved, a proof of work is created, which timestamps the newly constructed block. New bitcoins are created as a form of remuneration for the mining.
It is impossible to fabricate the time-stamp since it can only be produced after the mining has been completed. It is also validated by various individuals because the creation of it includes several machines. As a result, the information in the block is reliable and unhackable.
Bitcoins are widely used. Everyone’s transfer and production is recorded in the next. Each one of these blocks are linked in a chronological chain known as a blockchain, which is open to the public. Each block has its own unique fingerprint, which is left in all following blocks, allowing anybody to trace a bitcoin’s history all the way back to its inception.
Because of the fingerprints, editing the information inside any one block is very hard because you’d have to alter all the prior blocks as well. As a result, the bitcoin ledger — a record of all transactions – is nearly unhackable, and each transaction is extremely safe.
It’s no surprise that so many firms are embracing technology.
Chapter 5 – Blockchain technology is being effectively used by Ethereum and Blockstack for their own companies.
Craig Steven Wright, an Australian computer engineer, and entrepreneur claimed in 2016 that he was the genuine Satoshi Nakamoto. Some people believed him, while others were doubtful.
One of these doubters suggested that it would have been far easier for Wright to verify his identity by just publishing “Craig Wright is Satoshi Nakamoto” with Satoshi’s private key on the internet rather than trying to persuade people in person. As a result, it was thought that Wright could not possibly be Satoshi Nakamoto.
Who was this youthful skeptic criticizing bitcoin’s ostensible creator? None other than the college dropout we already discussed: Vitalik Buterin, 24, is the creator of Ethereum, a major blockchain business.
Ethereum is a blockchain software platform that was developed in 2015 with the goal of securely handling and verifying things other than money, most notably smart contracts. The participants to a transaction use smart contracts to transmit their assets — whether shares, currencies or anything else of value – to the blockchain. The assets are then freed and handed on as appropriate if all parties cooperate; otherwise, they are simply repaid.
Only two years after its inception, Ethereum has unleashed a flood of entrepreneurial ingenuity through these safe investing capabilities, avoiding the Securities and Exchange Commission’s burdensome laws that had hampered investment in prior years.
It does have its own token, ether, which reached a market valuation of close to $60 billion in May 2018 – over half that of bitcoin! It’s too early to predict if Ethereum will outpace bitcoin, but Andreas Antonopoulos, a Greek-British blockchain specialist, believes it may end up like a lion-shark battle in which each rules its own realm.
However, Ethereum isn’t the only blockchain company thriving in the cryptosphere. Blockstack, founded by computer scientist Muneeb Ali, is developing a whole new network for blockchain-based applications.
Blockstack is a browsable network and a public network for blockchain app development that gives both developers and consumers a simple route into the safe world of blockchains. It’s based on just two fundamental software structures: a monolith, which is a blockchain-based platform that underpins everything, and a metaverse, which is a visible platform where people may build, surf, and share whatever they want.
This is only one example of how the blockchain is restoring individual users’ security and control. But it’s not the only software that’s defying Google’s hegemony; upheaval is also emerging in the hardware sector.
Chapter 6 – Hardware manufacturing is resurgent, and it’s contributing to the redesigning of out-of-date cloud technology.
Moore’s Law claims that the expense of circuits doubles every two years, whereas Bell’s Law states that a massive decline in the price of processing power spurs the invention of a totally new computer design every 10 years. It occurred in the 1970s and 1980s when the PC supplanted IBM’s massive mainframes, and more recently with Google’s cloud. Is there a chance we’ll get another shift soon?
It appears that a revival of hardware manufacturing is underway in Silicon Valley. Though Silicon Valley businesses no longer manufacture the silicon chips that gave the region its name, Nvidia and its top scientist Bill Dally continue to do so. They are, though, trending in the other direction, away from speedy but energy-intensive “hot” chips and toward cooler and more efficient ones, thanks to the cheaper circuitry now accessible.
Dally has long praised graphics processors and their massively parallel methods, which allow numerous operations to execute at the same time in a gentle yet efficient manner, rather than all data traveling quickly up and down a single information highway. He believes that these processors will be critical in upcoming industries like self-driving vehicle sensors, where life and death are dependent on processing and interpreting a large number of objects and events at the same time.
Meanwhile, Google and other information behemoths continue to struggle to find cheaper and more powerful processing power to maintain their huge and expanding centralized systems. In fact, it appears that they are requesting more additional power than is now possible in the technical landscape.
However, there are interesting breakthroughs in technologies that do not rely on centralized clouds. The creation of Golem, a corporation founded on the Ethereum blockchain network, is one example.
Golem bills itself as an “Airbnb for computers,” renting out your computer processing power while you’re not using it and pooling it all together into one massive virtual supercomputer!
This generates a lot of processing power, allowing users to do things like computer graphics rendering for a lot less money, and without the need for big and costly Siren Servers like Google’s. The usage of blockchain technology also ensures the security of individual storage and software.
Such technological advancements are enhancing security and capabilities. Is there anything that may seriously stifle the blockchain’s growth?
Chapter 7 – A criterion of wealth ensures currency stability, but bitcoin’s attempt to offer an alternative is misguided.
Isaac Newton, a British physicist, developed the gold standard in the seventeenth century. Governments throughout the globe have guaranteed their currencies against the value of gold for almost 200 years to maintain economic stability.
What is the significance of gold? For starters, it is the lustrous metal that is most resistant to corrosion, so you can be assured that it will not vanish.
Its value is also predictable since its supply rises steadily enough through mining and excavation across the world to have little impact on its value. Even if mining technology improves, the fact that new gold resources are more difficult to find effectively cancels it out.
As a result, it served as a good benchmark — a constant against which to measure the fluctuating international economic factors of currency rates and interest rates.
Governments, on the other hand, have abandoned it in favor of allowing the markets to determine the value of currencies. Nakamoto pledged to remedy this after the 2008 financial crisis, expecting that bitcoin will become a new and improved gold standard.
Along with the initial bitcoin block, Nakamoto designed a mining algorithm, which makes solving the computational challenge necessary to generate blocks and its corollary bitcoins increasingly difficult.
He thought that by doing so, he might counteract advancements in computer processing power in the same manner that the rising inaccessibility of gold mines counteracts technical gains. He also set a limit of 21 million bitcoins for the entire supply, with the number that can be mined halving every year.
Satoshi thought that by including these conditions, he would be able to produce a steady and sustainable supply of bitcoins over time, enabling it to become a new gold standard.
Bitcoin, however, can’t become a standard, according to economics writer Mike Kendall, since it’s already a token of trade, and a volatile one at that. Because its supply is fixed, the only way for it to respond to variations in demand is for its value to fluctuate wildly. And this has already occurred: during 2017 and 2018, the value of bitcoin fluctuated between $1,183 and $19,401. In light of this, how can bitcoin serve as a reliable and stable standard?
Satoshi may have achieved incredible technological advancements in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, but his grasp of real-world economics may be wrong. Other cryptocurrencies must now correct the remaining errors and continue to create the cryptocosm, creating a route out of Google’s crowded and massive infrastructure.
Life After Google: The Fall of Big Data and the Rise of the Blockchain Economy by George Gilder Book Review
Individual security has taken a back seat to the data storage of a centralized hub in Google’s universe. However, its supremacy appears to be nearing a breaking point. The cryptocosm, together with the blockchain, has provided the groundwork for a fundamentally new manner of preserving individual data and doing online commerce by operating outside of the dominant and established systems. It has the ability to dismantle Google’s complex and exhausting processes while facilitating advancement and technological improvement in a variety of industries.