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Wired Writer Imagines Google Island 150

Posted by timothy
from the through-a-hazy-fog-of-snark dept.
theodp writes "The last thing Wired's Mat Honan remembered before awaking on the self-driving boat that dropped him on the island was sitting through a four-hour Google I/O keynote in Moscone Center and hearing Google CEO Larry Page promote a vision of a utopia where society could be free to innovate and experiment, unencumbered by government regulations or social norms. 'Welcome to Google Island,' a naked-save-for-a-pair-of-eyeglasses Larry Page tells Honan. 'As soon as you hit Google's territorial waters, you came under our jurisdiction, our terms of service. Our laws — or lack thereof — apply here. By boarding our self-driving boat you granted us the right to all feedback you provide during your journey. This includes the chemical composition of your sweat. Remember when I said at I/O that maybe we should set aside some small part of the world where people could experiment freely and examine the effects? I wasn't speaking theoretically. This place exists. We built it.'"
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Wired Writer Imagines Google Island

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  • Hervé Villechaize used to say ze Plane ze Plane. Maybe its ze Pain ze Pain of losing any rights to privacy. So is this Fantasy Island or not?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Frosty Piss (770223) *

      Hervé Villechaize used to say ze Plane ze Plane.

      I was thinking more of a hideously obese Marlon Brando chatting it up with Elvis over clam boats, while Google Mutants shamble around servicing them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 18, 2013 @05:31PM (#43764881)

    It was supposed to be a three hour tour, but it's been part of our lives ever since.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...and I'm here to ask you a question. Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose... Rapture, a city where the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, Where the great would not be constra

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 18, 2013 @05:53PM (#43764999)

    Congratulations (?) to Wired's Mat Honan for inventing a subgenre that nobody wants.

    • by jhobbs (659809)
      He's just doing his part for Rule 34 by creating "Google Erotic Fan Fiction."
    • Just be thankful that the Moderate Safe Search was switched on - the bit where he and Google's Larry Page went to Erection Cove together was clearly inappropriate...
    • First off, way to be homophobic! And bravo to everyone who voted the AC up for it! Second: there are a large number of star trek fanfics that have homosexual themes. They're coming from somewhere, folks.
      • by tftp (111690)

        They're coming from somewhere, folks.

        Yes, there are writings of all sorts out there. It doesn't really matter who produces them and how. It's far more important to know what percentage of readers reads them.

  • Invasion! (Score:3, Funny)

    by DeathGrippe (2906227) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @05:56PM (#43765009)
    All was well until the place was discovered by a colony of penguins...
  • shit.

    Who the hell cares?

  • "As soon as you hit Google's territorial waters, you came under our jurisdiction, our terms of service. Our laws — or lack thereof — apply here." HOLY OXYMORONS BATMAN!
  • Utopian playland (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @06:12PM (#43765089) Homepage Journal

    This appears to be a story depicting a sort-of utopian future (of limited extent - an island) where there are no rules.

    I'm not sure from the context whether the author is in favor or against the concept. It somehow feels like he is knitting together several uncomfortable consequences of "no rules" in an attempt to paint that future as dystopian.

    The thing people always miss, the important overlooked point, is that no one wants a state where there are no rules. What people invariably want is a state which has rules enforcing human rights, and little else.

    The most basic human right is to have sovereignty over ones own body. Mat Honan's article shows us that with no rules, outsiders would be able to do anything they wanted to us - even against our consent. It would be the strong doing whatever they wanted to the weak. Typical, obvious, and predictable - we have many examples of lawless societies where the strong do just that.

    Many of our rules are violations of that first most basic right, pretty much anything that someone else thinks that you should do or not-do for your own good: rules about drugs, prostitution, abortion, doctor-assisted suicide, and yes, wearing clothes. We could do away with large swaths of the legal landscape and eliminate large parts of government, both local and federal, if we could just say "do anything you want, so long as you don't infringe on the rights of others".

    If you would like to read about a rule-less society which enforces basic human rights and is a little less dystopian, try "Manna" [marshallbrain.com] by Marshall Brain. It's an easy read and an interesting story.

    Another good example is "Voyage From Yesteryear" [wikipedia.org] by James Hogan. A little longer and with more drama, but essentially a rule-less society which enforces basic human rights.

    • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @07:03PM (#43765277)

      What people invariably want is a state which has rules enforcing human rights, and little else.

      That's not what most people want at all. Most people want roads, education, defense, a framework for business, etc. etc.

      It's what Libertarians say they want. Though each wants only the human rights that happen to serve them individually.

      We could do away with large swaths of the legal landscape and eliminate large parts of government, both local and federal, if we could just say "do anything you want, so long as you don't infringe on the rights of others".

      The problem is that huge amounts of what we do infringes on others rights. There's very often a balance between rights of one person and rights of another. That's why an awful lot of those laws were created in the first place.

      • by Black Parrot (19622) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @07:19PM (#43765355)

        What most people want is a place where they can have everything and do anything, and not suffer any negative consequences.

        Some idealists apparently aren't aware that Utopia means "nowhere".

        • I don't know about anyone else but my utopia is simple, it's a tropical island with plenty of fresh water, fruit, and fish, the rest of you can get the fuck off my Island.
        • See the Twilight Zone episode "A Nice Place To Visit" on that theme. It may surprise you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Nice_Place_to_Visit [wikipedia.org]
          "Henry "Rocky" Valentine is robbing a pawnshop after shooting a night watchman, but before he can get away he is shot by the police. He wakes up to find himself seemingly unharmed by the encounter and in the company of a pleasant individual named "Pip" who tells Rocky that he is his guide and has been instructed to grant him whatever he desires. ... [Spoilers follow...

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        No, actually, libertarians do not say that, but go ahead, keep getting your information on them from the NYT and MSNBC.

        • Libertarians certainly do say that. But you may have confused them with Anarcho-capitalists.

        • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @10:09PM (#43765891) Journal
          Many people on slashdot holding those kind of opinions self-label as libertarian, but you're correct in that it is not part of the libertarian "platform". However like "flower power" in the 60's, the libertarian movement tends to attract people under 25 who are well-meaning but very naive about the human condition. They tend to believe all people are basically decent people and will naturally "get along withe each other" if only government would stop doing "stuff". This is simply false, without larger societies humans will revert to their natural tribalism, the alpha male in each extend family will rise (sink?) to the status of warlord. What both groups are really asking for is a self governing society, what they fail to see is that we already have one. I'm not sure what it says about the US but both movements arose and are strongest in the US.

          During the late 60's, early 70's the hippies leaving the city to join communes in the country was one of the largest, if not the largest, internal US mass migrations of all time. Most of the communes fell apart quickly, people simply walked/ran away when the alpha members of the group turned it into a personality cult and started using and abusing everyone else for pleasure and profit. Very few lasted more than 2yrs, about the time it takes to truly realize that living with other people, (even like minded people), entails copious amounts of compromise + confrontation (politics).

          Simply put evolution has designed our minds to live in tribal societies numbering between 100-200, all other tribes (even tribes of chimps) were universally seen as sub-human, xenophobia is still alive and kicking today because in geological terms evolution is still just playing with the idea of civilization for primates.
          • ... like "flower power" in the 60's, the libertarian movement tends to attract people under 25 who are well-meaning but very naive about the human condition. They tend to believe all people are basically decent people and will naturally "get along withe each other" if only government would stop doing "stuff". This is simply false, without larger societies humans will revert to their natural tribalism, the alpha male in each extend family will rise (sink?) to the status of warlord. What both groups are really asking for is a self governing society, what they fail to see is that we already have one. ... ...

            Simply put evolution has designed our minds to live in tribal societies numbering between 100-200, all other tribes (even tribes of chimps) were universally seen as sub-human, xenophobia is still alive and kicking today because in geological terms evolution is still just playing with the idea of civilization for primates.

            +6, Absofuckinglutely Excellent.

          • I'm not saying you're wrong, lost soul, but it just sounds like you're extrapolating from Electric Kool-aid Acid Test.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            Libertarians are people who have never ceased being teenagers and seeing beyond their own personal needs and desires, they have no expectations at all about other people's behaviour as they do not think of it at all. They are permanently stuck in the 'me now generation' like a broken record and they quite simply cannot conceive of a society based upon that principle because it is beyond their understanding, hence their desire for it.

            Of course never forget evolution does not stop, so human evolution, driv

            • by dcw3 (649211)

              Libertarians are people who have never ceased being teenagers and seeing beyond their own personal needs and desires, they have no expectations at all about other people's behaviour as they do not think of it at all. They are permanently stuck in the 'me now generation' like a broken record and they quite simply cannot conceive of a society based upon that principle because it is beyond their understanding, hence their desire for it.

              You've obviously never actually known many. Instead of making a sweeping stereotype, maybe you could act unlike those you accusations you've made above, and learn something.

          • by Raenex (947668)

            What both groups are really asking for is a self governing society, what they fail to see is that we already have one.

            No, that's a definition of some kind of democracy. What the Libertarian Party [lp.org] wants is listed right in the title of it's homepage: "Maximum Freedom, Minimum Government".

            You can't seriously argue that when you can't even legally smoke pot Libertarians have what they are "really" asking for.

      • Rights are a useless passive tool attempting fight a proactive enemy: human nature.
        • Oh dear, that's a bit of a bleak outlook socceroos. How's your nature? That of your family and friends. How's the nature of the school teachers and professors you had? Your doctor?...

          And rights, useless? Your right to life and right to control over your own property has served you reasonably well so far I hope.

          • Your right to life and right to control over your own property has served you reasonably well so far I hope.

            I have a mortgage. I have no right to my property - in reality. I'm permitted to live here by the bank so long as I continue to serve. My right to life is completely subjective to anyone elses whim and my ability to defend myself. That's kind of my point, no rights or laws stop human nature. Any discouragement of an action by law and rights is worked around by those entities who wish to do so.

            Also, rights and laws are subjective. One man's fish is another man's poisson.

            • I have a mortgage. I have no right to my property - in reality. I'm permitted to live here by the bank so long as I continue to serve.

              Well that just means that it's not actually your property, but the bank's. In whole or in part. But presumably you do have possessions that you bought outright?

              My right to life is completely subjective to anyone elses whim and my ability to defend myself.

              No it's not. The fact that someone else might transgress your rights (and hopefully incur punishment for doing so) does not mean you don't have rights. And in the general course of things the right serves us well. Few people are murdered. Imagine how many more would be killed were there not a government/police to support your right. It's no so hard t

    • What people invariably want is a state which has rules enforcing human rights, and little else.

      Sort of. What people invariably want is a state where the rules benefit them, or at least not stopping them from doing what they want to do.

      It would be the strong doing whatever they wanted to the weak.

      Given Brin and company are arguably the most powerful people in the world, it's not terribly surprising he wants a land where there are no rules, is it? See above.

    • "Many of our rules are violations of that first most basic right, pretty much anything that someone else thinks that you should do or not-do for your own good:"

      I would guess then that you are not in favour of public education for k-12, universal heathcare, or government run power & water companies. Just some of the things, of which to live without, would to me be a distopia already.

      I think most libertarians will find that the things that society collectively taxes and pays for, roads, sewers, schools, b

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Never forget that YOU are the government. You pay for it, you elect it, they hopefully follow what the majority of the electorate wants.

        Kinda, true, no you don't, HAHAHAHA.

      • they hopefully follow what the majority of the electorate wants.

        Tyranny of the majority is no good, I think.

        • "Majority rule, minority rights"

          Too many people forget the second part. That's what avoids the tyranny of the majority. The majority can make whatever laws they want, so long as those laws don't infringe on the rights of a minority. For example, in the US, no majority can pass a law that legalizes slavery, as that violates the rights of minorities.

          All too often I see US citizens squawking about "majority rule!" when the courts uphold the rights of a minority. They should know better; without minorit
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      No you are wrong.
      "Many of our rules are violations of that first most basic right, pretty much anything that someone else thinks that you should do or not-do for your own good: rules about drugs, prostitution, abortion, doctor-assisted suicide, and yes, wearing clothes. "
      Let's tear this apart one by one.

      'rules about drugs"
      No you are wrong. http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/human-biology/medical-quackery.htm#page=0 [howstuffworks.com] not to mention FDA testing of drugs for safety and effectiveness. You are probably talking

      • Like hell! Don't you know that the only people that want to walk around naked are people that nobody wants to see naked?

        You have no right to not be offended (or at least I don't believe you should).

        That said, you keep saying, "No you are wrong." This is a subjective matter, so that doesn't seem likely, but I do agree with at least some of what you said.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          You lack a sense of humor... But really look at any nudist camp website and you will see that hot 20 something nudest are very rare.

    • Uh, I thought the end of Manna was unnerving.

      Basically the character submits to a control system that he has no reason to trust except for that his tour guide is an easy lay. He is able to opt out of this system, but he is still walking around with a kill switch in his neck.

      I don't know if that's the feeling Marshall intended. The first half with it being a cautionary tale of citizens ending up as wards of a robo-state seems to make enough sense (he makes it seem dystopian), but having this crime-free cont

  • Shaddup And Take My Money Already!
    • Let me be the first to say the more libertarians that disappear off to this island, never to be seen again, the better.

      • Eventually, your kind will attempt to invade with real-world laws. You are part of a giant, hyper organism whose parts, humans, can be directed by data streams that "warm your heart" and "make you feel like a Good Person".

        We understand this. You don't.

        • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @08:06PM (#43765525)

          Don't worry, we promise to leave you entirely alone on your island, just you libertarians, the telephone sanitizers, the hairdressers and advertising account executives.

          • by tmosley (996283)
            Actually, I think the rest of you will tear yourselves apart. Good riddance to thieving rubbish. Too bad you will wind up killing everyone on the island in your vain attempts to deflect the blame for the complete and total failure of your policies. Nothing like a nice war against the enemy of the week to stop the proles from discovering that the king can't command the tide.
            • Absolutely. You probably want to stay where you are, what with the wars and pestilence and everything. Don't feel the need to hurry back. You could send a postcard if you like. We'll be sure to read it. If you don't get a reply, well it probably got lost in the post or something.

            • BTW, you do realise you're taking the guns with you? Wouldn't want you to leave them here.

        • Eventually, your kind will attempt to invade with real-world laws

          It's much more likely to be a coup from within, reason being "your kind" are also humans. The bit that "your kind" haven't worked out yet is that the ability to discern the folly of humans in large groups does not imply the ability to avoid it.

          We understand this. You don't.

          "My kind" get the hyper-organism thing, it's not created by "my kind", it spontaneously forms whenever a human society grows past a handful of related individuals. It's only when "your kind" fully realize "your kind" are not immune [prisonexp.org] that "your kind" will start to un [cracked.com]

        • You are part of a giant, hyper organism whose parts, humans, can be directed by data streams that "safeguard your property rights" and "protect you from the Government".

          Hiya, Pot! Kettle here...

  • This is only the natural progression of things, a group of people (company) seeks freedom from what they view as restrictive intervention in their lives and dreams of striking out to find a new land of freedom where they can create their 'utopian' society. The only difference now is that it's the merchant class seeking to break away from the state, instead of a new state seeking to break away from a monarchy and so on and so forth. Ultimately any independent group of people will start to run into the same p
  • by theodp (442580) on Saturday May 18, 2013 @07:38PM (#43765413)

    We have just announced on the Official Google Blog that we will soon retire Google Island (the actual date is August 18, 2013). We know Island has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We're sad too.

    There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Island has declined, and as a company we're pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience.

    To ensure a smooth transition, we're providing a three-month sunset period so you have sufficient time to find an alternative island. If you want to retain your Island data, you can do so through Google Takeout.

    Thank you again for using Google Island.

    • by Swampash (1131503)

      We have just announced on the Official Google Blog that we will soon retire Google Island (the actual date is August 18, 2013). We know Island has a devoted following who will be very sad to see it go. We're sad too.

      *golf clap*

  • After reading the summary, I couldn't help but think of the storyline to the first Bioshock.
  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@Nos ... t-retrograde.com> on Saturday May 18, 2013 @09:27PM (#43765791)

    Just scroll right down and you'll read a tale,
    A tale of a fateful trip,
    That started at Google IO,
    and it involves a ship.

    Some fool was a dreamer of sailing men,
    All naked -- That's for sure!
    "They'd 'innovate'; No, it won't be gay",
    Said the blogger du jour -- A blogger "du jour"!

    The commenters started getting rough,
    The idyllic ship was tossed,
    It wrought imagery of a lawless few:
    Your privacy would be lost -- Yar! "privacy wood" be "lost!"

    The ship made port at a private pier:
    A Google-owned desert isle,
    With Googliaaaaans!
    The Blogger too...
    Some billionaires,
    (but no wives),
    Home "movie" stars,
    Terms of Service-er, and
    Hairy Mans!
    Here on Googlian's Isle!

  • How do we get off this island?

    The Professor and MaryAnn aren't helping things by panicking, btw.

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