I don’t know how long I’ve been working for Google.
I’m helping them build their self-driving cars.
You are too.
Every time you see this
…you’re working for Google.
I give you permission to put that on your resume.
I learned about this from Roger McNamee. He’s every tech billionaire’s mentor:
- Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg Larry Page, Sergey Brin
The list goes on.
“I’ve been around for a long time,” he said.
He brought Sheryl Sandberg to Facebook. She was at Google. Roger made the introduction. And then she became Facebook’s COO. That’s when Roger got pushed out.
And he was fine with that… then.
But he regrets it now.
“I was at the tail end of my career,” he said. “I was retiring. I was not as engaged. And I confess… I missed things I wish I had seen a lot earlier.”
Roger says there two phases of the internet.
Phase 1 of the internet is pre-data collection. Pre-behavioral prediction. Pre-manipulation.
Phase 2 is all of that.
Filter bubbles. Data collection. Echo chambers. Tailored trends. Targeted marketing.
Which we approved. And still approve. Because no one is saying “no.”
But Roger wants to change that.
“These guys are putting cameras and microphones everywhere,” he said. “They’re tracking you anyway they can. They’re gathering data anyway they can. They’re making behavioral predictions about what you’re likely to do. And they have products designed to influence your behavior. So that you actually do what they’re predicting.”
He’s speaking out because he wants us to know the danger.
He wants us to know:
- A) Who’s spying on us
- B) How powerful they are
- C) WHY & how they’re spying on us
- D) Why it’s dangerous, misleading and manipulative
- E) And what we can do about it.
He wants us to ask questions. And wake up.
“Privacy isn’t about protecting your identity,” he said. “Privacy is about protecting your ability to make choices without fear… If you’re being watched all the time you are not free to make choices.”
This is the big question Roger is pushing:
“Why is it legal for any third party commerce (i.e. Amazon, Facebook, Google, Verizon, banks and financial institutions, etc.) to be in our most personal, most private data?”
“Roger, you’re scaring me!”
I didn’t want to give this up. I told him, “I know myself. I’m not going to stop using Google or Facebook. I like having an Amazon Alexa. These things make my life easier.”
“You don’t have to stop using anything,” Roger said.
He kept telling me, “You’re thinking about the problem wrong.”
He wanted me to see the nefarious behavior behind what they want you think is happening…
I thought “they” (Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Verizon, Amazon, etc.) gather our data. And sell it to make a profit.
And I was fine with that.
But I never thought about:
- A) Who are they selling the data to?
- B) And who’s buying it.
And why is this a threat?
Roger explained. He gave me an example.
First you have to understand the evolution of Google:
“It began with the search engine,” he said.
Whenever you did a Google search, they’d gather your data. At first, it was sort of innocent.
They used your data to improve the search engine.
But then they realized they could do more with it.
“And what they discovered was that it could be used to predict human behavior…”
So they took off.
They built Gmail.
Which told them:
- Your identity
- AND what you’re thinking about
“Then they add maps. So, now they know your purchase intent [from search]. They know who you are. And what you’re thinking because of your email. They know where you are. And suddenly, they have the most valuable dataset for human prediction ever made.”
“And not only that,” I said, “Facebook knows all your likes and preferences.”
“Well, Google had all of this before Facebook.”
Then Facebook hires Sheryl Sandberg.
“And so there’s cross pollination. And off they go…”
“Ok, so what do we do?”
If these companies are in a race to manipulate us (and they’re winning) and we didn’t even know this race exists… then how do we catch up?
“Use your voice,” Roger said. “We need to use our political power. There are at least 319 million of us in the United States of America. If we act on our collective self-interest, we’ll be able to keep all the things we like. And eliminate the stuff we do not like.”
Here’s a short list:
- Decide that it should be illegal for 3rd party commerce to buy and sell our most personal, most private data.
I’m having Roger come back on for a part 3.
Because I want to know more.
I think there are layers of understanding to this.
It’s almost like a diagnosis:
- First you have to find out what’s wrong… (we’re being spied on and it’s more threatening than we thought)
- Then you learn what your options are
- Then you can do something about it.
So this is what I think we should do.
Tell all your friends that you work for Google. That’ll confuse them. And get their attention.
“Joe, what the f*** are you talking about!?!
These questions are important. Because people are immune to lessons they don’t want to learn.
Plant the seed.
Links and Resources
- “Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe” by Roger McNamee
- Listen to Part 1 with Roger McNamee: Ep. 435 Every Tech Billionaire’s Mentor
- Follow Roger on his website and Twitter
- You can check out his band on Facebook
- Learn about his VC fund (Elevation Partners)