In addition to current privacy concerns, Google faces the more general issue of public trust. To make people trust the company, it must become involved in something larger than itself that benefits everyone, not just Google employees or users of its services. It must do something truly for the benefit of the greater good and, to this end, I would like to introduce IBM's World Community Grid project, which seeks to use a distributed processing framework to number-crunch massive amounts research data using the spare processing time of consumer home computers, looking for possible drugs to treat Cancer, HIV and Influenza, and to find clean energy generation mechanisms for the world, together with other benevolent projects the results of which are placed into the public domain.
As part of my private project, I have started discovery work on a campaign to promote the work of the Grid through Internet Service Providers. If that were possible with BT in the United Kingdom, who through their wholesale products Datastream and IPstream, reach around 8 million end users across the country.
Regardless of my private campaign, I would like to hand this project over to Google; to introduce my contacts and to start talks to find out if there is mutual benefit for the companies involved. I believe that Google could generate a large amount of public goodwill from this whilst at the same time helping the project achieve its altruistic goals of "don't be evil".
A little of the usually subtle promotion style used by Google to promote its own products could enable this project to bloom. For example, in the Google search footer a new link could be added:
Google Home - Advertising Programmes - Business Solutions - Privacy - Change the World - About Google
With the high level of public and media interest in Google and anything new that the company produces or gets involved in, this could easily snow-ball into a big success for the project, increasing the 1.3m devices currently contributing to a much greater number. This would shorten the time taken to process the research data, so that analysis can be done to find out which, if any, of the computer-chosen candidates work.
One key point is that Google have to do very little to make this happen: they don't even have to run the software. All they do is publicised it so that you, reader, can become a part of something larger that yourself, for the greater good.
So, what next? Well, if you're Google and you like the idea, contact me and justin [at] ilithium [dot] com and I can make this happen for you.