Did HG Wells predict Google ?
PARODY WARNING: This is really a story about a business with an unusual focus which like many small businesses started to pay Google for their adwords service.
In the Tme Machine a fast forward to the future gives at first glance an utopian civilisation whose everyday lives are filled with play. They do not toil yet are provided with abundant food supplies with no apparent source
We soon realise that all is not how it first seems, when one of the Eloi is swept away by the river and her playful companions look on, detached from any empathy for the individual.
It is a culture in which libraries have been allowed to crumble to dust, and the traveller deduces thar the Eloi are being farmed by another race of Morlocks for whom the Eloi are food.
Describing the working environment at Google, the BBC puts it like this "If your ideal workspace includes a slide, a games room, a chill-out' aquarium and plenty of free food then you had better get your CV into Google".
If you saw the recent documentary on Google and the World Brain , you'll have seen the comparison of Google's book scanning project and another HG Wells novel:
The documentary raised many concerns about copyright and the abuse of knowledge for commercial gain. They are good engineers , they leave the ethics of the situation to lawyers.
They may not have considered a future scenario of reduced energy reserves where such a global brain can no longer be fed, or perhaps more importantly that access to and dissemination of knowledge is greater benefit to mankind than consolidation.. .
I was reminded of the Eloi not only by this but my earlier experience of dealing with Google which I described as 'Evil thrives when Google people do nothing'. My complaint that the issue of vulnerable children being farmed for profit being of no import in their playful laissez-faire culture. That the smear campaign they still host 7 years later did considerable harm to this cause.
One commentator, Evgeny Morozov, suggests that "they think of themselves as an NGO who happen to make a lot of money".
If they really were an NGO they might well have met the cost identified for placing children in loving family homes from their quarterly profits. . .
Given my interest of compassion in business, I was "fascinated" in the way Mr Spock might use the word, to learn that Google are one of the participants at a Stanford conference on Compassion.
In the Google/Eloi parody of free food and play, there are no Morlocks other than the metaphorical monsters of global capitalism and organised crime.
Google might reason that giving their employees such an unconstrained working environment is in itself an illustration of compassion, while at the same time demonstrating that like the Eloi, this leads to a detactment incapable of empathy with those who fall in rivers or between the cracks where profit maximising business does not reach,