As much as I love the incredible advancements of technology, I have to admit that there are some emerging trends of the Internet age that are giving me the creeps. Here’s one of them: Google’s philanthropic division, Google.org, believes that the company can now help to forecast the outbreaks of flu epidemics.
If a given area has a spike in the number of people searching for "flu symptoms," Google believes that they can predict a regional flu outbreak up to 10 days prior to a CDC announcement of the outbreak.
In other words, they know exactly who is searching for what-and where they’re located.
Maybe it’s me, but this has an Orwellian ring to it. I don’t like the idea that Google is tracking my search information. Remember, they’re doing this to "protect the public" (always a warning sign, as I’ve told you before). Anyone else feel their privacy threatened?
What’s also bothersome about this ability is that Google’s evidence is based merely on numbers of inquiries, whereas the CDC’s information is based on evidence compiled from emergency rooms (and the CDC is run by qualified doctors… let’s not forget that). Google’s way of tracking this information is a bit too open to interpretation. After all, just because you enter "flu symptoms" into a search engine, it doesn’t mean you have the flu, does it?
Personally, I wish Google would limit itself to helping me find out the names of those actors who I saw in a movie six years ago, and leave the flu epidemic predictions to the doctors.