ODI Cricket Scores Presage a Sci-Fi Dystopia

I bobbled into the office today and was reminded (by my Belgian colleague, for shame!) that England are currently playing Australia in the second O.D.I. She was only telling me because we’re doing badly (145/5 at last count) and wanted the chance to chortle at yet more national humiliation – which is all we deserve, frankly.

Anyway, I Googled for the score is our modern wont… and now Google is hosting not just the cricket scores, but the commentary. Here are some screenshots, and here is a link if you want to actually view it (i.e. if you’re Australian).

 

I’ve done a bit of searching around and can’t find the source of the commentary (Google have deigned not to credit anyone) which means that either Google are scraping something without credit, or have employed a cricket commentator – which would be the most amazing thing and part of me secretly wishes that’s true.

So. Another day, another market Google is making a play in. I don’t fancy that Test Match Special need to fear it in particular any time soon, but I think it’s yet another waypoint towards Google’s inexorable march to becoming a sneaky host for other people’s content (see: rest of this blog, passim).

Why do I chuck Google Home into this equation though? Well while I am sceptical about voice search as a thing, I know enough people with voice devices installed at home (I will be cold in the grave before I have one in my house) to get a sense of how it is being used.

“OK Google – what’s the England cricket score?” is exactly the type of thing I can imagine someone saying to their baleful little robot snitch. And of course, Google has the answer: (“England are doing terribly”). But now, with voice to speech they can make ancillary offer:

“England are 145 for 5. Would you like to hear the commentary?”
“Yes.”
“OK. Buttler plays it off his pads for no run.” etc etc

This is, for me, what Google’s end game looks like. The “send some traffic to a selection of billions of websites” was always so much flannel – and this proves it. Google doesn’t give a single shiny shit about your website, or how good your markup is: they want to serve people information that is correct and timely. End of.

All those people shilling you how to optimise for voice search in the hope of maybe getting some branding out of it are kidding themselves, and they are kidding you. Google has no interest in you, your brand or your content – other than as a thing to monetise.

Asimov got this nailed down in 1956 in ‘The Last Question‘: a world where we talk to an invisible omniscient entity that surrounds us and accesses all human knowledge in real time to augment – and eventually supplant – human intelligence.

Anyway, we are slipping into a sci-fi dystopia. Enjoy.

Post credits scene:

England actually win the match, God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world.

 

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