4:44pm

Mon April 1, 2013
Arts & Culture

Google Brain goes into beta testing

Since its launch in 1998, Google has evolved from simple searches to near total Internet domination. It owns the video-sharing site YouTube. It launched its own social network, Google Plus. And they’ve recently started talking about a new product, Google Glass – smart spectacles that take pictures, perform searches, and navigate for whoever wears them.

Google caught some flack for the futuristic – and downright nerdy – look of the glasses. So the company hired Silicon Valley startup, Bergoglio, to design and test the prototype of a Google Brain, which boasts all the features of Google glasses without the fashion statement. KALW’s Ben Trefny sat down with Alexis Channing-Sorkle, the first recipient of the still-in-beta product, to pick – or search – her brain.

BEN TREFNY: Thanks for joining us, Alexis. I hope you found it okay.

ALEXIS CHANNING-SORKLE: Oh yeah. No problem. I took one of three suggested routes, which only took me 23 minutes in current traffic.

TREFNY: Oh… great. So tell me, we already live in a world where we can have the Internet at our fingertips, with smartphones and tablets. Why did you think it was necessary to take this leap? To put the Internet right into your brain?

CHANNING-SORKLE: Well, I mean, what’s the difference between carrying a computer in your hand and in your head? At least when it’s in your head, you can still look up and take in the world around you.

TREFNY: So do you think having a computer brain actually makes you more human than people glued to smart phones?

CHANNING-SORKLE: You could say that. I mean, over one billion people now have smartphones, according to a CBS News report on October 17, 2012, so...

TREFNY: I’m sorry... did you just Google that?

CHANNING-SORKLE: Yeah.

TREFNY: So you can just, like, Google anything, just by thinking?

CHANNING-SORKLE: Yes, but it’s called g-thinking. The patented term for google thoughts is g-thoughts.

TREFNY: Ok. Can you G-think something for me right now?

CHANNING-SORKLE: Sure.

TREFNY: Okay... How long...

CHANNING-SORKLE: [interrupting] How long should you microwave a burrito? How long is the Brooklyn Bridge? How long should you keep a monkey locked up?

TREFNY: I’m sorry?

CHANNING-SORKLE: Oh... sorry. Predictive search can get a little out of control. They’re working on the bug.

TREFNY: So. Are you Tweeting?

CHANNING-SORKLE: Constantly.

TREFNY: Anythin interesting?

CHANNING-SORKLE: No.

TREFNY: Facebooking?

CHANNING-SORKLE: Like you wouldn't believe. I'm videotaping this interview right now, and live vlogging it at channing-sorkle.com. It basically let's me take social media to a whole new level, Ben. My friends and followers get to experience every single aspect of my life in excruciating detail. Sometimes I go out to dinner just to take pictures of the food. I'm actually on the all-Instagram diet and I look fabulous!

TREFNY: Uh, right. So what are some of the challenges this poses for you?

CHANNING-SORKLE: ....

TREFNY: Miss Channing-Sorkle?

CHANNING-SORKLE: Uh... sorry. I’m having a bit of a slow connection here. What’s your wireless password again?

TREFNY: That’s okay, we're almost done here. You can answer this one with your regular brain. What are some of the other challenges?

CHANNING-SORKLE: Well, I have to be really careful about where my mind wanders, because otherwise it can lead to some unintended searches.

TREFNY: I see. So you’re screening your thoughts all the time?

CHANNING-SORKLE: Yeah... well. Uh... Oh no.... [interrupted by sound clip]

CHANNING-SORKLE: [breaking down] I’m so sorry. I can’t help it. I can’t have my own thoughts any more. There’s ads everywhere. I’m not feeling lucky...DON'T BE EVIL.

This story originally aired on the very special April First edition of Crosscurrents. 

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