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Here's why Google is building a robot army

Here s why Google is building a robot army


If you think of Google's Mountain View campus as a city state, and all its satellite campuses as colonies, then it was kind of inevitable that the company would raise an army. Already, it has a culture within its walls that is as strong as any city-state's. Googlers across the globe share common values, types of work and meals. They exist within a social hierarchy as clear-cut as any caste system in ancient Greece (though Google doesn't have slaves, which is nice). And they've even taken on a state-like role in defending U.S. assets against Chinese hackers.

But recently, Google's cultural goals have gotten a little more pronounced. They're not just out to make great web services like search, maps, and gmail. They're making driverless cars and funding Ray Kurzweil's efforts to eliminate human death. It's almost like the company is trying to build its own religion, based on vaguely environmentalist and Singulatarian ideas. They're acting less like a company, whose goals are entirely economic, and more like a city-state, whose goals include ineffable things like quality of life.

Google's robot army reminds me of novels like Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age or Marge Piercy's He, She and It, where companies form city-states that occasionally go to war with each other. In He, She, and It, the company/city makes its living from selling software, but has to build cyborg soldiers to defend its walls against hostile takeovers. And in Diamond Age, corporations create islands devoted to pursuits like recreating the Victorian age. The companies in these novels are no longer just economic entities. They are cultures, conducting social experiments and propagating belief systems that won't lead directly to profit.

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"They're making driverless cars and funding Ray Kurzweil's efforts to eliminate human death."

Also, they're mapping the human genome and searching for alternative clean energy solutions.

In short, Google is predicting the future by inventing it.

In that light, robots might not be used as an army but rather as a workforce.

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