The dangers of Google idealism

Julian Assange tells a fascinating tale about Schmidt and Google in Newsweek:

Schmidt’s emergence as Google’s “foreign minister”—making pomp and ceremony state visits across geopolitical fault lines—had not come out of nowhere; it had been presaged by years of assimilation within U.S. establishment networks of reputation and influence.

…By all appearances, Google’s bosses genuinely believe in the civilizing power of enlightened multinational corporations, and they see this mission as continuous with the shaping of the world according to the better judgment of the “benevolent superpower.” They will tell you that open-mindedness is a virtue, but all perspectives that challenge the exceptionalist drive at the heart of American foreign policy will remain invisible to them.

This is the impenetrable banality of “don’t be evil.” They believe that they are doing good. And that is a problem.

It is interesting reading, if only to hear a skeptical outsider’s perspective of the web of Washington intrigue.

I am reminded of Dave Eggers’ new book, The Circle. It’s the story of a technology behemoth that gradually eliminates privacy from the Internet and daily life. Again, the ideals of Google-y executives drive the world down a darkening path.

It is not a subtle book. As Ayn Rand was to free markets, Eggers is to privacy. But it was entertaining and, for someone who lives a degree of his life online, it was thought provoking and kept me reading to the vaguely clumsy end.

The common thread is that good intentions can blind us more than bad ones. An insight easy to forget when you’re in the service of country or humanity.