bit-tech.net

Google plans new research funding

Google plans new research funding

Google's latest round of grants for external research projects dwarfs any previous investments the company has made.

Google is upping its investment in outside research projects, pledging $5.7 million (£3.58 million) in funding to university projects in four areas.

The advertising giant has "identified four extremely important areas, both to Google and to society," according to comments made by vice president of research and special initiatives Alfred Spector to the New York Times. These are: machine learning; using mobile handsets as data collection devices in science; energy efficient computing; and, interestingly enough, privacy.

The grants concentrate mainly on projects at US universities, although one is earmarked for an as-yet unnamed project at Cambridge here in the UK. Each grant varies in size from $100,000 (£63,000) to a whopping $1.5 million (£940,000) - a significant increase on those previously offered by the company.

While many of the areas Google has opted to fund make a great deal of sense - chief among them machine learning, which could help create better search results and more targeted advertising, and energy efficient computing projects, which could help reduce the company's energy expenditure in its datacentres - the choice to invest in privacy research is an interesting one. With many privacy advocates decrying Google's lax approach to the subject - with some even choosing to risk the loss of funding to warn users to switch to Microsoft's Bing - it seems odd that the data hoarding advertising giant would invest in such projects.

The funding - which has identified twelve projects in total - will give Google a head-start in the areas identified, but how much usable technology or innovation will result and how quickly such research will make it to the company's products remains to be seen.

Are you impressed to see Google spending some of its vast fortunes on such research, or does the inclusion of privacy research smack of hypocrisy? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

6 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
rickysio 2nd February 2010, 11:26 Quote
Privacy?

BAHAHAHAHAHA
tron 2nd February 2010, 12:28 Quote
More Google funding for research in "privacy"?
Almightyrastus 2nd February 2010, 13:48 Quote
Google Privacy = ensuring that they and only they have ALL your information.
BLC 2nd February 2010, 13:48 Quote
For all I care, Google can collect as much information on my browsing habits as they please.

Put it this way... My mobile phone company logs all my text messages and phone calls. My ISP monitors my traffic. When I hand over my Clubcard in Tesco, my purchases are logged. When I walk down the street I'm being watched by CCTV. When I get on the bus at the end of the street, I'm on CCTV again. My employer monitors the building's foyer (and possibly other areas of the building) with CCTV. My employer also monitors my activity on the network/computer systems. When I go to an airport I'm watched for suspicious behaviour and my luggage is scanned. My bank knows my financial history inside and out. My credit card company has detailed information on my credit history. My name and address are available on a publicly-accessible database (the Electoral Register). My letting agency has details of my credit history, as well as my bank account details.

If I wanted to be really concerned about privacy, I would have a lot more to worry about than Google being interested in the porn I happen to be looking for.

The only way to truly have privacy is to disconnect yourself from modern society and live like a hermit.

EDIT: PS, this is not a "dig" at anyone. I just think that people need to get a little perspective on the subject of "privacy".
devdevil85 2nd February 2010, 14:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Almightyrastus
Google Privacy = ensuring that they and only they have ALL your information.
+1000
SlickGnome 2nd February 2010, 15:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC
For all I care, Google can collect as much information on my browsing habits as they please.

Put it this way... My mobile phone company logs all my text messages and phone calls. My ISP monitors my traffic. When I hand over my Clubcard in Tesco, my purchases are logged. When I walk down the street I'm being watched by CCTV. When I get on the bus at the end of the street, I'm on CCTV again. My employer monitors the building's foyer (and possibly other areas of the building) with CCTV. My employer also monitors my activity on the network/computer systems. When I go to an airport I'm watched for suspicious behaviour and my luggage is scanned. My bank knows my financial history inside and out. My credit card company has detailed information on my credit history. My name and address are available on a publicly-accessible database (the Electoral Register). My letting agency has details of my credit history, as well as my bank account details.

If I wanted to be really concerned about privacy, I would have a lot more to worry about than Google being interested in the porn I happen to be looking for.

The only way to truly have privacy is to disconnect yourself from modern society and live like a hermit.

EDIT: PS, this is not a "dig" at anyone. I just think that people need to get a little perspective on the subject of "privacy".

+1 Completely agree with this. With my job I track some of this data on our users myself, and work with others who track who is coming and going from our building etc... Looking out the window I can see no less than 15 CCTV cameras down the street. Who has the data isn't as important as what they do with it.
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums