If you’re anything like me (i.e. an absolute nerd), you grew up surrounded by science fiction media; comic books, cartoons, movies, novels, all promising a glorious future of flying cars and video phones, and instant thought communication and teleportation, and more. You know, stuff that you instantly know is bullshit once you grow half a brain, but stuff that’s still so fascinating, you can’t stop wising for it to be true.
Apparently, when you have a lot of money, enough to potentially blow a lot of it and never get any of it back, you can decide to actually work on making all these absurd fantasies a reality. Even more amazingly, you can actually have some breakthroughs, and make stuff that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Jetsons cartoon feasible for mass availability.
That’s what Google X is doing.
It’s Not GoogleX, It’s Google[X]
Everything about Google[x] is right out of a science fiction book. Hell, I’ll describe it to you, and you’ll probably be a little freaked out, because it sounds like the super secret lair of a villain from a Bond movie or something.
Google[x] is a secret lab that Google founded in 2010, and that it uses to research new technologies that, in their words, have a slim chance at succeeding, but if they do, can change the world. When I say technologies, I don’t mean internet research or any of that- Google already has a wing within the company for that kind of research, called Google Research. Google[x] does research on stuff that exists in the real world, that can potentially change everything if it goes through.
It was probably best described as ‘Google Research is mostly bits, Google[x] is mostly atoms.’ For those of you who don’t know, bits and atoms are the constituent units of computer data and material reality respectively.
So yeah, basically, in a secret facility that’s about a half mile away from their campus in Mountain View, Google has this super secret lab where they are secretly researching ways to
take over the world invent the future, today.
Shooting The Moon! Err…Moonshots
Okay, so that’s a lot about what they are, but what do they do? I mean, what exactly are they doing holed up in their secret lab up there?
As it turns out, a lot of things. Some of Google’s most outrageous ideas in the last five years have all come from Google[x]- ideas like the self driving car (which we’ve talked about before), Google Glass (which would give you an HUD over your vision like in a shooter game, and have information instantly accessible over your eyes), and Project Loon (the idea of bringing free internet to the world by, I shit you not, having balloons fly in the stratosphere and beam it to us- ‘Loon’ is right, Google. As in batshit insane and loony loon) have all come from Google[x].
If these already sound like something crazy that happens when a bunch of mad geniuses are bored one Friday afternoon, what didn’t go past the prototyping stage will probably sound even more so- Google has considered, and rejected, ideas such as:
- A user friendly personal jetpack, canceled because it was too loud (seriously)
- A space elevator, canceled because it’s unfeasible with present day technology (It’s okay, we have till 3001 to make these anyway)
- A hoverboard, which was found too costly for mass production
- Teleportation, which was canceled because Google determined that it violates the laws of physics
Now, I agree with you, this all sounds awesome, but let’s be honest, it’s also a series of long shots. And Google[x] agrees with me on this one- so much so that the guy managing Google[x]’s day to day operations, Astro Teller (which is a ridiculously awesome and badass name, incidentally, and also like one a science fiction villain would be called- see, I told you these guys were almost stereotypical) has the official title of ‘Captain of Moonshots,’ with ‘moonshots’ being the term Google uses to describe projects that it knows have a very little chance of succeeding (to the extent that Google expects failure on all of them), but could be revolutionary just on the teeny tiny off chance that they don’t.
So clearly, as you can see, after having completely taken over the internet (seriously, one simple typo in Google’s programming once ended up blocking the entire internet, now you look me in the eye and tell me Google doesn’t have the internet by the balls), they’re now trying to take over the real, actual world too. And the trouble is, there’s nothing we can do to stop them, because a) they have too much money, and we, well, don’t, and b) because this all sounds convenient, and we are lazy, and we will kill for cars that we don’t have to drive ourselves. Plus, you know, it sounds cool.
Or it will, until Google[x] secretly develops technology that will laser beam you to death if you attempt to use Bing instead of Google.
Which means all of us should be safe, because really, who uses Bing anyway?