Google & the elimination of humans (& keynotes)

‘The whole of the developments and operations of analysis are now
capable of being executed by machinery … As soon as an Analytical
Engine exists, it will necessarily guide the future course of science.’
Charles Babbage, 1791–1871.

I read a 2 days ago the keynote Sergey Brin gave in the Google developer’s day, in which he admitted that machines can eliminate human jobs, & that they’re working on such AI. He did it of course as a part of a geeky joke, that went something like this: some machines get to a level of sophistication in which they start improving themselves, e.g., when you use a compiler to compile itself. The Internet is not different. It reached the stage in which it can improve itself. Although Google is working on AI stuff that can help the Internet improve itself directly, there’s another way the Internet is improving itself, without eliminating humans: [joke starts here] Mosaic appeared in 1993, & the 1st dating site not a long time after, & this means that by 1995 the 1st Internet offspring was probably born. Such offspring should now be 12 y/old, & may have started improving the Internet…

My son is an Internet offspring, & I never thought of him as a part of the Internet mechanism of improving itself… (Compare Muli Koppel‘s posts here and here).

Anyway, the strange thing is by the next day, all video & text transcriptions of the keynote were somehow removed, & I couldn’t find neither them (thru Google) or their cached version (thru Google Desktop). The original blog containing the transcription was closed the next day & reopened without the original post the day afterwards. Apparently the geeky joke was recalled & history rewritten…

My bookmark of the censored keynote transcription reads:

  1. PAPERADE » Blog Archive » sergei brin’s keynote at google developer day

    Brin’s developer day keynote is quite cool – on how the internet improves itself by creating people. Geeky humor, but some deep truth there: Google currently needs all of these developers, but one day the Google SkyNet will decide otherwise

    to humor google web ai self_improving_system keynote conference developer_day futuresaved by 2 other people … 3 days ago

Update: the referred transcript is back online. I’m attaching the full text:

sergei brin’s keynote at google developer day

May 31, 2007 on 10:44 am | In Uncategorized | nice to see all of you here. i know we’ve had a lot of announcements today, but i am left wondering same question that’s on all of your minds and that’s these blocks behind me: are they glued together or are they actually stacked?

[walks over to the blocks, pokes them]

they are actually stacked. i wonder if that’s earthquake safe. we are in earthquake country.

now, i’m really excited to be speaking to you here today. and i think we’ve reach kinda a key point in the evolution of the internet. i’ll tell you what i mean.

if you are developing, for example, a compiler. there comes a time when the compiler, when you finally write i well enough, that it can compile itself. or if you are developing an operating system, you eventually get to the point where you can kinda boot it, and then edit the code using it itself, and once again recompile it, and reboot it — hopefully not lose it all.

in all systems, eventually, they get to the sophistication, that they can actually recreate themselves.

and the internet (as you see with things like the mashup editor) it’s no exception.

you can create internet apps using internet apps today.

but there is one key point that all of these systems involve. there’s a step in there that’s somewhat limiting and that’s that there’s a person involved.

you know, there’s somebody who improves, changes the compiler’s source code before they recompile it. or improves the OS code. or creates the mashup. so for the internet to be truly self sustaining, you really need to get the person out of the loop. and, that’s why we corralled all of you here in one room today. now, i hate to spring this devious plot on you now. . .

no, in truth. today the state of a.i. and whatnot, and we actually do lots of a.i. research — it’s simply not good enough to do all of the great things that all of you do.

but there’s a second solution to the problem. you don’t have to eliminate the person, you can create the person. and why is that exciting for me to mention that to you today?

because if you think about it, the web… well, like mosaic started in 1993. and the first online dating sites cropped up soon after that. and you figure by 1995, the internet would have had, essentially, it’s first offspring — you know — whose mating was controlled by the Internet in some sense.

and today that person is about twelve years old. old enough to be creating a maplet right now. so in a sense, we’ve come full circle. and the internet is now producing the people who are in turn improving the internet.

now we all know where that can take us. so we have to be a little bit careful about, you know, how we create our mashups and what not. and i want to just caution all of you.

i mean, if you, for example, were to create a, uh you know like, dating maplet or something like that and it really took off. then the internet could go out of control, and the internet would be creating so many people, who would in turn be improving the internet, and creating more maplets and what not,

anyway, i just wanted to convey to you a sense of caution and responsibility as you go about using these tools.

but now anyway, now that that brief side note is over, i want to also, on a more serious note, thank all of you. because the internet really is what it is today because it is not actually a sentient being on its own… but in fact it is the work and labor of very many people, many of which are represented in this room today and all of the great websites out there, all of the great things that you can reach from google web search — you know, web search wouldn’t be very good if their wasn’t anything to search there to begin with.

and it is really thanks to, well, both the people in this room and in rooms all around the world today who are participating in developer’s day and of course the millions of people who are not, but who will hopefully get a chance to tune in on the videos, it’s all of the people who are creating this
great information and all the great services out there that make all the tools that let you search and find them actually useful.

so i hope that the small things that we present to you today and the tools that we create. i hope that they can be useful and and we want to do as much as we can to repay the community that creates such a fantastic ecosystem for us to work in.

so with that, thank you very much. . . . and please go and enjoy.



  1. I’m not sure it’s due to the joke, & may be just jumping to conclusions regarding the whole disappearance.
    Just my gut feeling from the disappearance of several coverages of the keynote (in blogs & in YouTube). It’s strange, because they promised to open the coverage from the developer day.
    I hope I’m wrong, & some coverage will be exposed somewhere.

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