I normally don’t review school books because for the most part I don’t think anyone else would find them interesting. But In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy is quick and a fascinating read. To be honest, before I read this book, I had no idea how or why Google worked. I was one of those users who Levy explains think that Google is just magic. Or I just turned a blind eye to what it takes for Google to work, mainly the massive amounts of information it collects from it’s users. It is hard to image and accept that Google deals with billions of questions and thus access to billions of amount of data on a daily basis.
This is probably due in part because Google is ultra secretive, but Levy has had a long relationship with the founders and got to talk to a lot of people that either work for or are connected to Google. Through Levy’s research and interviews, he breaks down the complexity to Google that even I could understand. Levy explores Google’s cash cow, Google Ads, and how it has not only change Google but how we search for things and what we see as relevant information.
In the book several references to Terminator’s Skynet are made. Skynet, the artificial intelligence that is self-aware and tries to destroy humanity. While Google is not there, yet, Levy paints a picture that Google is ‘learning’ from us on a daily basis. It’s really eye opening just how much Google is ‘learning’ about us and if anything has a chance to become Skynet, Google might just be it. lol
And Google, if you are listening, I love you, please don’t hurt me. 😉