Seriously? Stalked? Yes, and it has to do with an interesting mashup of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, and who better equipped to stalk your online activities than the world’s greatest stalking business, Google. Here’s what they’re up to now.
Pixel By Pixel
Before I get into what Google can do that should scare the Bejesus out of you, let’s review what Google does, how it does it, what it means, and how many ways the company already
tracks stalks you with your own permission.
Google makes most of its money on advertising. To get advertisers to pay big money Google gives users (not customers) free applications– Google Search, Gmail, etc.– which enables the company to track what you do, who you talk to, who you write to, what is said in your email, which websites you visit online, what you click on, and who knows what else.
That extensive tracking network enables Google to gather huge amounts of data about you, and the company uses that data to serve advertising supposedly relevant to you (not always, which might explain why Mac360 occasionally displays ads for Pella Windows and McIntosh Apples), data which is also packaged and sold to other networks and advertisers.
In other words, you’re being
tracked stalked while you’re online. Recently, Google has given users (remember, you’re not really a Google customer; have you ever talked to someone from Google?) new tools to manage and store photos online. The Google Photos app for iPhone comes to mind, a nifty, free, utility which uploads photos to Google’s servers for, you know, safekeeping.
It’s no secret that Google can scan images for all the EXIF metadata so the ad company knows what camera you use, where you took a photo and when; that sort of thing. Google now has a way that marries Big Data with Artificial Intelligence so it can tell where a photo was taken based upon that data, and more specifically, even the pixels in the image.
Google can do that because it stores so many images that certain patterns begin to appear. The Eiffel Tower looks like the Eiffel Tower so it’s easily identified within an image because there are 14 trillion images available for Google to scan and identify. Google’s neural network slices and dices the world into various grids of easily identifiable objects from gazillions of photos of more common and popular locations.
Tomorrow is another day so lets extrapolate out a few years as more of your personal information– photos, email, locations, friends, purchases, online habits– are sucked into Google’s Big Data Artificial Intelligence machine (let’s call it BDAI; you read it here first) which gains sufficient capability to identify people within photos, and, over time, can identify those same people as they grow up, as they age, and using ever more cleverly designed algorithms Google may develop the capability to determine your intelligence, your health, and more– all to serve advertisements that can persuade you to do whatever advertisers want because they know more about you than your mother.
It could happen. That’s why you should be afraid of Google.