Google and the World Brain
In 2002, quietly and behind closed doors, the Internet giant Google began to scan millions of books in an effort to create a privatised giant global library, containing every book in existence. Not only this, but they claimed they had an even greater purpose—to create a higher form of intelligence, something that HG Wells had predicted in his 1937 essay “World Brain”. Working with the world’s most prestigious libraries, Google was said to be reinventing the limits of copyright in the name of free access to anyone, anywhere. But what can possibly be wrong with this picture? As Google and the World Brain reveals, a whole lot. Some argue that Google’s actions represent aggressive theft on an enormous scale, others see it as an attempt to monopolise our shared cultural heritage, and still others view the project as an attempt to flatten our minds by consolidating complex ideas into searchable “extra-long tweets” for the screen. At first slowly, and then with intensifying conviction, a diverse coalition of authors and others mobilise to stop the ambitious project. Google and the World Brain explores this high-stakes story with an important alternative voice to the technological utopianism of our age.