Tag Archives: Google

Buying Google

buying googleAbout a month ago, Sanmay Ved, a student at Babson College in Massachusetts, was looking at domain names he could purchase for a new website. He went online, saw that one was available, purchased the domain, and paid his $12. To his surprise, he got a confirmation on his card that he was the proud new owner…of google.com!

Now, Sanmay is apparently a good guy. He wasn’t doing this for cyber-terrorism or for financial gain. He just saw that the domain was available and decided to try to buy it. He alerted Google and Google offered a reward for alerting them to the problem.

But for a few minutes, Sanmay was the owner of the most powerful website in the world. And I have seen several “helpful suggestions” about what Sanmay should have done with that temptation. Sadly, most are full of what you would expect from the world we live in today.

Some suggested he should have posted lewd pictures; some suggested that he post embarrassing information about people; and some said he should have used it to make money. But Sanmay did none of those things. He alerted Google, they offered a reward, and he turned them down! Instead, he suggested a charity, and to Google’s credit, they doubled the reward and sent it on to the charity.

Now, I can’t help but wonder…if it had been you or me…what would we have done? The question helps us discover something about where our minds are today, doesn’t it? What would you have done with such incredible power in that moment?

Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness by offering Him all the power, fame, and money this world has to offer. But Jesus refused. He had the ability, in an instant, to do whatever He wanted…and what He wanted was to glorify God (MT 4:1-11).

Power, fame, and fortune are tempting. But they are an illusion; they are only fleeting. Jesus focused on the eternal, and He calls His disciples to do the same. And He promises that those who do likewise will inherit an eternal Kingdom (MT 6:20).

Google Says Humans Are To Blame!

google carWhen it comes to driving, Google has finally figured out the glitch – YOU! That’s right…you are the problem. According to press releases regarding recent accidents involving Google’s driverless vehicles, Google says humans are to blame for running into their cars every single time.

So Google says: “The clear theme is human error and inattention.”

Interesting, isn’t it? I mean, take the emotion out of it for a moment and just reflect on what Google is proposing. The least reliable piece of equipment in the car, they say, is you – the driver. So what is the solution? Remove the driver, of course!

As a preacher, I’ll admit that the thought piqued my interest. I mean, what if God had the same idea? After all, aren’t we the problem when it comes to perfectly following His plan? Aren’t we the ones who miss the mark (sin) time after time? Don’t the accidents we get into cause damage to others and create unsafe roadways of life?

God wrote the operating parameters of a proper life. He gave us the perfect example in His Son. And he gave us an opportunity to drive the roads of life directing our own paths. And we make a mess of it.

It is called life. And according to Romans 3:23, we are all bad drivers. Every single one of us has had a fender bender or will have a fender bender as soon as we get our license (reach the age of accountability as we call it in the church).

What if God, though, had reached the same solution as Google: remove the drivers? We couldn’t blame Him, right? We keep getting in wrecks, we are unsafe, we endanger others, and we are often inattentive and irresponsible as we drive our lives down the road.

But God, in His amazing love, allows us to keep driving. Why? Because He doesn’t want robot drivers! Now, I don’t mean on the highways. Maybe computer drivers are, in fact, better. But in real life…well, He wants us to have free will.

In other words, God isn’t looking for robots who do only what they are programmed to do. Rather, He wants us to do right and be good drivers because we love Him and choose His way. He wants us to pay attention to the laws; He wants responsible drivers!

I run into a lot of people who ask why God doesn’t just fix everything. But have you considered what that means? “Fixing” the glitch would mean getting rid of you and me…the ones who make a mess of His perfect road!

But God loves us so much, He allows us to make mistakes, learn how to do better, and get back out there on the road of life. And I, for one, am grateful He hasn’t revoked my license. And I hope, with a few years of wisdom under my belt, I’m a better driver today than I used to be. How about you?

Dear Google, “Can You Just Tell Me What Is True, Please?”

cens_burnAh, the ultimate question: “What is truth?” Humanity has debated it for thousands of years. But thanks to new developments at Google, the struggle may soon be over. Google will just tell you what’s true! Wow, that was easy!

A miracle? No. It’s just algorithms and databases. But a recent proposal by a Google funded research team is striking fear and anger in the hearts of many. What’s the big deal? Who cares? Well, you should, and here’s why: Google shapes “truth” more than you know.

You see, under Google’s current methods, popularity tends to win the day. Google gives a higher preference to websites that are heavily used and pages that have the most cross-linked information. The basic thinking is like Wikipedia: more people will link to good information and report or comment negatively about bad information.

But Google figured out that there is a lot of garbage on the Internet. After all, people will say anything. And, even worse, people will share that “anything” without checking resources. But how do you stop people from finding sites with bad information on them? Google has a solution – trust them!

So the idea is this: Google would analyze the content of a web sites and give a “Knowledge Based Trust Score” based on how closely a web site matches the several billion “facts” in their “Knowledge Vault.” Web sites that match things that Google “knows to be true” will get preferential treatment. Web sites that do not match Google’s version of “facts” will lose ranking and hits.

Hurray! After all, we like facts, right? Don’t you love truth? Hmmm…wait a second…are Google “facts” always reliable?

Well, sort of. I like Google if I want an address, a telephone number, or the metric tons of bat guano processed at mines in Puerto Rico in the late 1800’s (100 metric tons/day, by the way). But what will Google do when conflicting sources disagree about the so-called “facts” of really important stuff? Who will get preference then?

The implications are incredible. Want to know if God exists? Ask Google. Want to know how the world started? Ask Google. Want to know how to get to Heaven? Ask Google.

Starting to see the problem? The vast majority of the public uses Google as their main search engine; they are the 800-pound gorilla. What if they start steering people toward a particular denomination or religion? Or what if they determine that those answers are best left to science? The query, “Google, how am I saved?” may return ten websites about penicillin!

Now, I’m not trying to be alarmist or a conspiracy theorist on this. But it does raise questions that are worth discussing. Where do you get your information? How do you determine what a “fact” is? And are you willing to trust Google’s database of “facts” to determine what books and websites are worth reading?

If your website is “flagged” as a source that Google does not agree with, then the consequences will be significant. Your page might not even register on a web search on a given topic. After all, most people never go to those buried 3rd and 4th pages on a search. Google won’t think of it as it “censorship,” but rather, “helpful suggestions” on what is the “right” information to read. 

Pilate once challenged Jesus with the question, “What is truth?” Some people believe Pilate was really asking Jesus for Words of truth. Others believe he was sarcastically saying that truth is whatever he says it is. Either way, we are still wrestling with this question almost 2,000 years later. Can Google end the debate? If only there were a book that had the answers! Oh, wait…there is.

You see, while I may not be ready to trust Google’s “facts” on salvation, Google is a great way to look up verses in the book that does have that information – the Bible! The Bible is the only true source of facts regarding eternity. It contains the God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17) words of life. Don’t believe me? Just Google it! 😉

 

 

The Right to be Forgotten

Man with question

In this digital age, privacy seems to be a fading memory. The details of our lives are available for others at the click of a button. Web searches reveal places we have lived, details about our purchases, who our neighbors are, information about family members, and some things that we would rather be kept private.

But in an effort to lash out at companies that thrive on what some call “freedom of information,” the top European Union Court recently ruled that Google can be forced to remove “irrelevant or excessive personal data from search engine results.” The ruling is based on a man who said that a recent search on his name caused him damage because Google had retained information about a 1998 home repossession. Why keep information like that? Because Google doesn’t forget…ever.

In the ruling, the EU court created an interesting precedent which is being dubbed, “the right to be forgotten.” Seems odd, doesn’t it? After all, isn’t one of the driving forces of life these days the desire to be remembered? Do some people want to be forgotten? Perhaps. But one thing almost everyone wants is to have their mistakes erased from history.

In a world where there is little or no “right to be forgotten,” isn’t it a comfort that we have a God who is willing to “forget” our mistakes? Now, don’t get the wrong idea; God has a better memory than Google. The Bible tells us that God sees all (Hebrews 4:13) and knows all (1 John 3:19-20). But despite knowing our worst, He is willing to forget all our sins (Hebrews 8:12).

God won’t forget us. He loves us to much for that. But our sins will be as good as forgotten if we have been covered in the forgiving blood of Jesus.

In fact, the “right to be forgotten” may be the greatest blessing we have in Christ. Even if Google remembers our mistakes, God will put them aside – if we are in Him. That’s better than a court order any day!