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Is Google Making Us Stupid? - Facts & Infographic

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Google, Google Everywhere

On September 4, 1998 when Larry Page and Sergey Brin set Google up at Menlo Park, CA, they may not have dreamed of the incredible ways in which this Internet-based services organization would come to dominate our lives. In October 2012, Google declared a market capitalization of $249 billion and declared a profit of $10.73 billion.

At the heart of the entire Google eco-system is the search engine. In 1998, the year the corporation was set up, there were about 3.6 million searches made using the Google search engine (9800 searches each day). By 2008, this number grew to 637.2 billion annual searches using the search engine – an average of about 1.74 billion searches each day. In 2012, Google search engine recorded 1.2 trillion annual searches, which comes to 3.28 billion Google searches each day. If you think these figures show the dominance of Google as a search engine, consider the following –

  • Gmail, Google’s mail service has over 423 million active users making it among the biggest mail service providers in the US and in the world. It is available in 54 languages. Together with Google Docs and Google Calendar, Gmail forms a part of Google’s productivity tools kitty.

  • By 2011, 96% of Google’s revenues came from its advertising programs. That year Adsense earned Google $9.71 billion.

  • Google Search Appliance was launched in 2002 as part of Google’s Enterprise Solutions. Google Apps, Google Earth, and Google Maps were subsequently launched.

  • With the development of mobile technology Google developed the Android operating system and the first Android phone as well

  • The browser Google Chrome, the social networking site Google Plus, Google Wallet, Google News, and Google Googles are popularly used across the world.

  • Google also now owns the popular blogging site Blogger and the video hosting site You Tube.

Goggle thus owns virtually most of technology-based products and services we use across the world.


Things We Can’t Do Without Google

In September 2012, Huffington Post put together a list of 13 things we cannot do without Google. Here’s our own version of the 10 things Google now dominates –

  • Spell Words – Google engineer Noam Shazeer invented and implemented Google's Did You Mean query-correction service. Here’s what Google suggests when we search for “activ lige”

  • Search and Research – According to December 2012 reports Google has captured 67% of the search engines market share. It naturally follows that Google throws up information about almost anyone or anything. A search for a popular word like Facebook yields "About 19,390,000,000 results (0.30 seconds)"

  • Find Our Way Around Town – Till January 2012, Google Maps was the top mobile app in the US. Making a comeback to the iOS6 has earned Google Map brownie points. Google Maps for iOS6 crossed 10 million downloads within 48 hours of its launch in December 2012. In the US, The 10 most searched cities in Google Maps were San Francisco, CA, Chicago, IL, Denver, CO, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Dallas, TX, Washington, DC, Houston, TX, Seattle, WA, Boston, MA

  • Google - “Google” is now officially a verb. It was added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in July 2006. This is probably because for anything that we do not seem to remember, we ‘Google it’. Why remember the longest word in the English language when a search returns about 2,230,000 results in 0.38 seconds?

  • Watch videos – Across the world, Google’s YouTube has a market share 20 times its nearest rival, say reports from 2011. Where else would over a billion people watch Psy’s Gangnam Style? 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Over 4 billion YouTube videos are viewed a day. Over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube. The site receives about 800 million unique visitors each month.

  • Go On Chauffeur-less Drives – A number of states including Nevada and California have approved testing of Google’s driverless-car. The US may soon lose its chauffeurs and even the ability to drive. According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, by 2040, about 75% of vehicles on the road will be self-driving.

  • Understand Other Languages Besides English - Google Translate is a free multilingual machine-translation service. The Google Translate mobile app supported 53 languages in 2011. Apart from this the Google ‘Translate links’ is another addition. Google Translate had over 200 million users each month in August 2012

  • Remember Famous Quotes – Neil Gaiman said "Google can bring you back 100000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one." And yes, we did find that on Google. Remembering speeches, complicated and authentic texts is now a thing of the past with all of it being at the tap of your keyboard. A search for "Gettysburg Address text" brings about 282,000 results in 0.33 seconds.

  • Advertise Across The World – Google advertising has changed the way businesses function across the world. Almost 97% or $22.889 billion of Google's 2009 revenue came from advertising - the majority of which came from AdWords. The audience reach of Google ads is unprecedented. In 2011, 96% of the $37.9 billion revenue came from advertising

  • Remember Definitions For Words – Though Google killed its Dictionary service in 2010, we can be pretty sure that the Google homepage definitions are pretty much all that our children are learning. A search for the definition of “Nekton” shows this


Google Artificial Intelligence

In June 2012, Google announced that it had made a breakthrough in artificial intelligence technology. Google X, the research lab of Google worked in association with Stanford University created a computer with 16,000 processing cores and billions of interconnections simulating a human brain. Researchers at Google fed the computer over 10 million images and tested its ability to recognize 20,000 objects from new images. The system is believed to have recognized a cat which was not part of the information provided to it. Google’s researches have been path breaking and making virtual life more intelligent.


Is Google Destroying Our Memory?

According to a Columbia University's Department of Psychology study into the effects of Internet search engines, such as Google on human memory retention, people with access to Google and other similar search engines are less likely to remember and recall facts. In the article called "Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips" published by the Science magazine, facts not available on the Internet were more likely to be retained by our memories.

In 2011, OnlineColleges published an infographic outlining how Google has started to replace our memory. The Google services that are used as extensions of knowledge according to this feature are – Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Reader (organizational tools), Google Analytics (analytical tool), Google Search (search/research tool), Google Images and Google Maps (image tools) and Google Translator (language tools).

Before Google, we took time to research in libraries, remember and recall facts and information. While these are habit and dependence forming, it also puts us in touch with limitless resources across the world, minimizes errors, and provides fresh perspective.


Is Google Making Us Smarter or Stoopid?

In their July/August 2008 issue, The Atlantic Magazine published a much talked-about article by Nicholas Carr “Is Google Making Us Stoopid?” Carr unequivocally believes that the Internet, and Google in particular, have caused us to become slow learners and distracted researchers incapable of consistency. He says “The faster we surf across the Web—the more links we click and pages we view—the more opportunities Google and other companies gain to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements. Most of the proprietors of the commercial Internet have a financial stake in collecting the crumbs of data we leave behind as we flit from link to link—the more crumbs, the better. The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. It’s in their economic interest to drive us to distraction”

A 2010 online survey of 895 technology stakeholders and critics conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, had a different outcome

  • Google won’t make us stupid – 76% experts agreed that Google does not make us stupid and that Nicholas Carr was wrong

  • Reading, writing, and the rendering of knowledge will be improved: 65% agreed that by 2020 it will become evident that “the Internet has enhanced and improved reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge.” Only 32% respondents were concerned about our diminishing abilities

  • Innovation will continue to catch us by surprise - 80% of the experts who took the survey agreed that hot gadgets and applications will take us by surprise

  • Anonymous online activity will certainly face challenges but still be possible thought 55% respondents. 41% thought that by 2020 “anonymous online activity is sharply curtailed.”


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Is Google Making Us Stupid.

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