On 12 November, Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, was one the keynote speakers at the fourth edition of TEDx Brussels. ‘The Woz’ ended with the following cliff-hanger: “Nowadays, where do you go to ask questions? The answer starts with ‘Go’, and it’s not God”. In the eyes of Wozniak Google is the “Almighty”.
The question of whether Google is God, has been around since the beginning of the world’s largest search engine. There is even a website isgooglegod.com that provides a convincing answer to this question, which is simply “YES”.
In September 2013 Google turns 15, and in this short time, the search technology has become an indispensable part of our daily lives. We can’t live without it: Google is omniscient and omnipresent.
The Church of Google
Gods need churches and therefore Matt MacPherson founded the site The church of Google in August 2006. On the homepage we can read the following:
“We at the Church of Google believe the search engine Google is the closest humankind has ever come to directly experiencing an actual God (as typically defined). We believe there is much more evidence in favour of Google’s divinity than there is for the divinity of other more traditional gods. We reject supernatural gods on the notion they are not scientifically provable. Thus, Googlists believe Google should rightfully be given the title of “God”, as She exhibits a great many of the characteristics traditionally associated with such Deities in a scientifically provable manner.”
Traditional gods are dismissed according to MacPherson. There is no scientific evidence that they exist. Google however has many of the properties that are assigned to gods. Everything Google does is scientific anchored. MacPherson even gives nine pieces of evidence to show that Google is God. Google is omniscient, omnipresent, immortal, infinite, she forgets nothing and answers prayers. According to MacPherson, Google must therefore be God. Hence he has founded his church.
In his recent book ‘Church in an Age of Crisis ” pastor James Emery White devotes an entire chapter to the question of whether Google is God. He also refers to the influence that Facebook and Google have on our lives. According to White, we give them divine qualities and we are fascinated by their power. For anyone who has ever caught a glimpse of the introduction of a new Apple product this must be true. Research has shown that the Apple brand causes the same chemical reaction in some people’s brains that a deep religious experience brings. In the case of Apple, Steve Jobs was the Messiah.
The future of Google
Back to the question of whether Google is God? On 1 May 2002, Larry Page, Google co-founder and now CEO of the company, explained in a question-and-answer session at Stanford University his vision for Google:
“The mission that I laid out for you will take us a little while, since that’s AI-Complete. I don’t know if you guys know what it means? It means Artificial Intelligence. […] If you solve search, you can answer any question, that means that you can do basically anything.”
In 2006 Page told that only 5% of the ultimate goal was achieved:
“People always make the assumption that we’re done with search. That’s very far from the case. We’re probably only 5% of the way there. We want to create the ultimate search engine that can understand anything. Some people could call that Artificial Intelligence.”
There is still a long way to go before Google can call itself “AI-complete”. In recent years, however, Google has managed to make new marks in the direction of the “AI Complete Augmented Humanity’-ideal with the use of Big Data. In the laboratory of the ultra-secret GoogleX, Google is preparing the launch of a number of far reaching AI-products. Self-driving cars, but also the Knowledge Graph with Google Now and Google Glass. It would appear that the goal of Google has become significantly closer than was the case a few years ago. The question is when the artificial intelligence of Google gets its own consciousness and becomes self aware.
About Sander Duivestein
Sander Duivestein (1971) is a highly acclaimed and top-rated trendwatcher, an influential author, an acclaimed keynote speaker, a digital business entrepreneur, and a strategic advisor on disruptive innovations. His main focus is the impact of new technologies on people, businesses and society.
More on Sander Duivestein.