As a cadre of Google executives took turns touting Google’s newest products at a conference in California on Wednesday, they also described how they were working toward a future in which technology would disappear.
That might sound like a bizarre mission for a tech company. Yet they promised that by fading into the background of our lives, technology would become easier to use, more intuitive, more efficient and more anticipatory, even allowing people to speak to Google like it were a person, rather than a piece of software. Google would usher in this new world with tools that would bring web services into every crevice of our lives, from maps that know where we’ll go next, to Google Glass, eyewear that puts the Internet mere millimeters away from our eyeballs.
But Google’s professed goal of making technology “get out of the way” masks what’s truly taking place. By making technology invisible, Google is also making it omnipresent. As software and gadgets become less in-your-face, they also become more pervasive and more influential, as we in turn become more dependent on them, more accepting of their presence in our lives and less critical of them. After all, how can someone scrutinize what they can’t see?