Marissa Mayer on Charlie Rose

Ms. Mayer came off as someone who has an amazing combination of common sense and intellect that is rare in technology. It was interesting to hear her explain the development of Google’s products and how they have the user in mind. Mayer is earnest and charming, perhaps too charming. What’s her fascination with Roy Lichtenstein and pop art?

A comment on Charlie blog said:

There’s something depressing – even degrading – re social-computing. Even (or especially?) this. Face-book, twitter, myspace, yadda yadda. More demeaning, too-often witless, self-serving proselytizing political or commercial peddling.

Beyond mathematics, science etc the cost-benefit for computers plummets – possibly into negative territory. The diverted time and thought on vacuous social exchanges would doubtless go along way toward solving (their own?) problems.

2 Replies to “Marissa Mayer on Charlie Rose”

  1. Ed’s Opinion said:

    Here are a few passages from Nicolas Carr’s Atlantic Article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” July-August 2008. Marissa Mayer is intelligent, earnest and charming, perhaps too charming. I would have liked to hear some of the allegations by Carr met and answered. The entire article is also well worth reading and available on line. Just Google it. Here are the passages:

    “Where does it end? Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the gifted young men who founded Google while pursuing doctoral degrees in computer science at Stanford, speak frequently of their desire to turn their search engine into an artificial intelligence, a HAL-like machine that might be connected directly to our brains. “The ultimate search engine is something as smart as people—or smarter,” Page said in a speech a few years back. “For us, working on search is a way to work on artificial intelligence.” In a 2004 interview with Newsweek, Brin said, “Certainly if you had all the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” Last year, Page told a convention of scientists that Google is “really trying to build artificial intelligence and to do it on a large scale.”

    Such an ambition is a natural one, even an admirable one, for a pair of math whizzes with vast quantities of cash at their disposal and a small army of computer scientists in their employ. A fundamentally scientific enterprise, Google is motivated by a desire to use technology, in Eric Schmidt’s words, “to solve problems that have never been solved before,” and artificial intelligence is the hardest problem out there. Why wouldn’t Brin and Page want to be the ones to crack it?

    Still, their easy assumption that we’d all “be better off” if our brains were supplemented, or even replaced, by an artificial intelligence is unsettling. It suggests a belief that intelligence is the output of a mechanical process, a series of discrete steps that can be isolated, measured, and optimized. In Google’s world, the world we enter when we go online, there’s little place for the fuzziness of contemplation. Ambiguity is not an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed. The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive.

    The idea that our minds should operate as high-speed data-processing machines is not only built into the workings of the Internet, it is the network’s reigning business model as well. The faster we surf across the Web—the more links we click and pages we view—the more opportunities Google and other companies gain to collect information about us and to feed us advertisements. Most of the proprietors of the commercial Internet have a financial stake in collecting the crumbs of data we leave behind as we flit from link to link—the more crumbs, the better. The last thing these companies want is to encourage leisurely reading or slow, concentrated thought. It’s in their economic interest to drive us to distraction.

  2. Remant said on Charlie’s comment blog:

    “Being a millionaire, but working til midnight and still unmarried at 35 seems contradictory, is perhaps proof that she really should have been a doctor.

    While I wouldn’t think that Google is an engineer-driven co, I do think they probably need a lot more ppl familiar with libraries and research methodology, which is kinda ironic, because the Google method of ordering according to clicks has long been used as the basis for citation indexes and Shepardizing. I’ve read, however, that this was her idea. If so, it was a case of reinventing the wheel.

    Similar to M$ the main engine of Google’s growth as far as I can see is the size of their equity. A lot of ppl bought Google stock because they expected the search engine winner to eventually take over both TV and newspaper advertising, which has historically been a very lucrative business, or rather monopoly, tho I suppose a lot did it because they had no idea what they doing and figured most others wouldn’t either. As Buffett says (in a round about way), monopoly is what you seek in investment, but that’s the reason why govt really has to confront it in advertising. Tho there may be competition among advertising firms there is zero for the industry as a whole, and it has to be viewed as a severely regressive sales tax.

    Aside from cornering the mkt for ads, the impression I have is that so far from the goal of organizing the world’s information (which is theoretically impossible anyway, at least without organizing the sources at the same time) Google is simply interested in selling various business-related services much the same as many others. Yahoo’s problem was not portals, etc – they did that stuff very well – but that they tried to do the aforementioned organizing by borrowing the subject area librarian model, which is an immense job and given the propensity of human beings to contrariness, a thankless one. I would suggest to Yahoo and M$ tho that they change their web search page format to exactly copy Google, because I think that ppl become accustomed to one format and do not want to struggle with others, no matter the quality of results. I like the simplicity of Google’s pages, but except for Earth I think the programs are a joke. I installed Chrome, laughed, and then tried to uninstall it, which proved to be no laughing matter, and I had to go through the Registry and remove it by hand. But one of the things I like Google for is its spelling correction, which is handy when you have to spell I’m-a-dinner-jacket.

    They have, I think, made a real mess of Google Books, where it seems someone was trying to operate both a library and a bookstore at the same time, and they ought to start over on that. I avoid the library portion of it anyway, because it was so poorly done and go to Internet Archive instead. However some idiot has uploaded all the Google books to that now. Both of them should have been organized by a staff of trained librarians to begin with and paid for by donations, taxes or subscription.

    I think something like Google or Yahoo news will eventually replace newspapers. The interesting question is how do you search for new news? I suppose by viewing web traffic, but by then it is somewhat old news.”

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