How One Start-Up is Revolutionizing Egypt’s Food Scene

How One Start-Up is Revolutionizing Egypt’s Food Scene

A piece I wrote for Egyptian Streets about the rise of a new Egyptian tech start-up called Engezni, started by two friends of mine from university.

Egyptian Streets

Hungry? Just get out your phone and download Engezni when it goes live in May. Hungry? Just get out your phone and download Engezni when it goes live in May.

By Mostafa Rizk, contributor, EgyptianStreets.com

Sometimes it seems that any news you hear out of Egypt is bad news. Whether it’s about an increasing budget deficit, a new wave of violent clashes or another government screw up, it feels as if everybody is actively trying to make things worse. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

For every person out there not doing their job or actively making the country a worse place to live, there are a thousand more who are sick of the politics and stagnation, who just want to see Egypt flourish, and are working tirelessly to make that happen.

The team behind Egypt’s latest tech startup, Engezni, are some of those people.

This February, Engezni won second place at the University Mobile Challenge at the prestigious Mobile World…

View original post 1,689 more words

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Modern Space Exploration: What You Should Know and Why You Should Support It

Recently it came to my attention that the US government was planning to decrease funding for NASA. While I was a little taken aback by this news, the decision itself was not what concerned me. The US may very well have good reason to cut its spending (although personally, I cringe whenever any kind of science/research funding is cut in any context) and there are plenty of governments and companies who would continue sending things into space even if the US slowed down. What concerned me was some of the opinions people had on space travel. I noticed that a lot of people view space exploration as a frivolous waste of resources, claiming that “we have enough problems down here” and space is just a distraction. I vehemently disagree. I believe space exploration is not only incredibly exciting but also of massive relevance to average people, whether that exploration is done by NASA or someone else.
Current Space Exploration
Image from Scientific American

SpaceX reusable rocket

To begin with, let’s talk about some of the exciting things that are going on in the space industry. With the deceleration of the space race in the decades following the moon landing, individuals from the private sector stepped in with their own ideas for picking it back up. Most famous of the lot is Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic, which if you hadn’t heard is a service offering touristic trips to space. He’s currently succeeded at garnering millions from ticket sales to thrill-seeking celebrities and his aircrafts have already gone supersonic. Of similar fame is Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Known for PayPal, Tesla Motors, SolarCity and most recently his audacious hyperloop idea, Musk is no less an amazing individual than Branson. He ultimately wants to colonize Mars but wanting to be practical, his main focus now is making rockets that are cheap and reusable. So far he’s succeeded at making a prototype of the reusable rocket and making SpaceX the first private company to resupply the international space station. Then there are the slightly crazier companies like Mars One which aims to launch and broadcast a Mars colonization mission by 2023, and Planetary Resources which wants to mine asteroids for resources. And of course NASA is ever-present in the field. Their primary focus seems to be Mars; after having discovered evidence it once was capable of supporting life and that life on earth may have actually come from Mars on an asteroid, they’re currently making plans to send more robots to study the matter.

Technologies Derived from Space Travel
 

Virgin Galactic

As you can see, the space age is far from dead. But how do any of these things help us? So a few rich people get joy-rides to space, what good does that do the rest of us? Well, their main objectives might be a little frivolous but the success of these ventures would bring benefits far beyond those objectives. Virgin Galactic may be selling tickets to the rich but the technology developed could mean planes that can exit the atmosphere, fly without air resistance slowing them down and re-enter. That means a commercial flight from London to Sydney could take as little as 4 hours, revolutionizing global transportation. The plan to mine asteroids might seem like an attempt by a group of  rich men to get even richer, but in doing so they would be helping solve the issue of resource scarcity. Unusually enough, the founders of Planetary Resources want to bring back platinum-group metals and lower the market price for them on earth. Currently, these metals cost $23,000 a pound and a reduction in their price would mean reduction in the price of medical devices and renewable energy products (among other products) that utilize them. Additionally, since the mining would require robotics technology that doesn’t yet exist, this project’s success would result in the development of that technology and consequently its use on earth in a variety of applications. And in the case of both of these companies, SpaceX’s work to make cheap, reusable rockets would complement their work and pave the way for other space-related business ideas to surface.

But that’s all quite speculative, what has space travel gained us so far? Well, while trying to make space travel possible, a lot of very tough engineering problems are encountered and the scientists and engineers working on them have to come up with creative and innovative solutions (if it costs billions to send another rocket you’d better be sure you’re going to think everything through very thoroughly). Much like the asteroid robots, these solutions can be applied to problems that affect everyone here on earth. This is a list of some of the most notable technologies developed/being developed by NASA as a result of space exploration. Some of these were patented and licensed out, earning them money (if you want to make an economic argument for funding the space program, this would be a good place to start) but money aside, some of the items on this list are hugely important! These include, but are not limited to, artificial limbs, heart pumps, water purifiers and high-performance solar cells. We may have plenty of problems “down here” that we need to focus on but space exploration isn’t as far removed from those problems as most people would tend to think.

Asteroid mining could transform the economy

The Future

Artist’s impression of Gliese 667cc

But all of that is just in the short term. We tend to wave away the long-term goals because they seem so far-fetched but they are goals worth striving for in their own right. A Martian colony may seem a little impractical now but imagine after we’ve got all the technology down and we take that step towards becoming an interplanetary species. A successful Martian colony would serve as an excellent backup for the human race. Granted, the earth is safe at the moment but with the climate changing, natural disasters wreaking havoc on our cities and radioactive material spilling into our oceans, there may come a time when we can’t survive here anymore and we’ll wish we had colonized Mars. But Mars is nearby and boring, what about the more interesting planets that are farther away? All the potentially habitable planets are light-years away from us but imagine if we could get to them in a few months or years? Although they’re still very far away from practical prototypes, physicists have devised plausible physical theories for building warp drives that could take us to the Gliese 667 system, where there are 3 potentially habitable planets, in as little as 2 years. It sounds implausible but NASA is already planning to have interstellar travel by 2100. Then of course there’s the holy grail of space travel: the discovery of alien life. Right now our best bet is the possibility of bacteria beneath the surface of Mars but what if we went to one of the Gliese planets and found intelligent life? Not only would it be the greatest scientific discovery in human history but just the knowledge of another intelligent species would have massive religious and philosophical implications. 

Inspiration of Future Generations
If that last paragraph has enthused you or gotten you daydreaming about a life aboard the enterprise, that leads me into my last point. Space is one of the few things that still has the power to capture all our imaginations. Think of kids hearing about these sorts of plans and how that gives them something to strive for. Speaking from personal experience, sci-fi and dreams of spacey tech is the reason I got into science. Having things like this going on will create the next generation of scientists and goodness knows we need them. Not just for space and research but in every branch of society. And on top of that, to be human is to dream. Elon Musk said it best when he said a life without dreams is meaningless. We have to dream we have to seek out something new otherwise, what’s the point? Nobody says we should invest too much of our effort in this field. At the end of the day, we live on earth, this is our home and there are a lot of problems we need to face. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be room for space travel as well. Even if it’s only 1% or 0.5% of our total activity as a civilization, it easily pays for itself with the technologies it produces, the young minds it inspires and the sense of wonder it instills in us all. And who knows, maybe one day it will change everything.

Zuckerberg’s Poltical Group: What To Know and What To Hope For

If you’ve been following recent tech news, you’ll know that Mark Zuckerberg is starting a new foray into the world of politics. The Facebook founder joined forces with a group of wealthy techies and put up $20 million to fund a new non-profit organization with the intent of lobbying the US congress on issues pertaining to technology. The group’s first order of business is immigration reform, specifically making it easier for skilled engineers from outside the US to obtain permanent visas. Zuckerberg and 100 other tech leaders already wrote to President Obama earlier this month highlighting their concerns. However, the group is also expected to give priority to educational reform. Zuckerberg is no stranger to advocacy, having donated $100 million to a New Jersey school district in 2010 (around the same time The Social Network came out) and recently participating in a campaign to promote the teaching of programming in schools along with Bill Gates, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and many others.

That’s what is known so far. The group is still in its early stages, they have yet to make any public statements or even pick a name, leaving much to speculation about their future. The entry of a conglomeration of nerds into politics could bring a much needed scientific perspective to an array of critical issues. In that same vein, a gang of billionaires influencing political decisions regarding the regulation of their businesses is an broken record we don’t want to see replayed with the internet. So what exactly do we want to see then?

 

Protection of Internet Freedom

In 2012 SOPA and PIPA (along with other legislation around the world) threatened internet freedom by trying to grant government the power to regulate internet activity by blocking websites alleged to have infringed copyright. Widespread outrage and internet activism stopped them for a while but similar bills have appeared since then like CISPA. CISPA’s focus is cyber security as opposed to intellectual property and according to CNET it would remove legal barriers that prevent ISPs, cellphone companies and websites like Facebook from giving your data to the US government, even if the investigators don’t have a warrant.

Image courtesy of Alain-Christian

Since it pervades every aspect of modern life, it’s understandable that some individuals want the law to have some sort of presence on the internet. However, if laws like this are to be made then people who understand how the internet works and the implications of government regulation should be actively participating in the process. For example, in its recent transparency report, Google released data about government requests for user information revealing that over 2012 the US government alone made 16,000 requests, 88% of which were complied with to some extent. Someone from Google would know better than anyone what kind of information governments ask for and thus how much or how little they should be able to ask for. However, at this stage Google doesn’t seem to be involved with Zuckerberg’s group and it seems that Facebook itself is actually supporting CISPA along with Microsoft and many others, which means either that they have reviewed the bill and it’s not as bad as some claim to be or that these companies in some way benefit from this legislation.

 

Promotion of Scientific Research

No developed nation can stay developed for long if it isn’t actively funding scientific research. Scientific research may not necessarily pay off in the short run but it contributes a lot to GDP in the long run. Cutting funding even by a little bit can be detrimental economically. A report from Research Councils UK estimated that in the UK, cuts of just £1 billion annually could lower GDP by over £10 billion. On top of that, some (if not all) of the most amazing technologies of the modern era were a direct result of government funding of research. The internet was a result of DARPA researching networking and Google’s self driving car technology is built on advances made by several universities in the DARPA grand challenge.

Image Courtesy of smadness on flickr

Stanford’s car Stanley, winner of the DARPA grand challenge

Although I am not particularly a fan of anything to do with the military and I am not personally invested in the US economy (not directly at least), there is an important message here. Groups like Zuckerberg’s have a responsibility to give a voice to the geeks that usually sit out of politics. By pushing for strong government support of scientific research and development, they can ensure that the US continues to create scientific advances that benefit us all and set a precedent for wealthy techies elsewhere to do the same in their countries. After all, there is no such thing as too much knowledge.

 

Being a Voice of Reason

Scientists don’t normally do politics. It’s not their thing. Why bother with all that headache? This unfortunately means there aren’t many people in government to represent science. That means that you end up with people in the US Congress who believe embryology is a “lie from the pit of hell“, the earth is 9000 years old and that there is such a thing as “legitimate rape” and some of them end up being on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Image courtesy of KOMUNews

Todd Akin- The congressman who made the controversial “legitimate rape” comment

Again, I don’t want to get too much into US politics but this is a problem in a lot more places than just the US. Scientists for whatever reason are not always active in politics and are thus disenfranchised. While this is not the first time a group of scientists (yes, computer scientists count as scientists too) have tried to get involved, Zuckerberg’s group is unique in that it has a massive pool of money to fund itself from and it will be readily listened to by the media. In essence, if Zuckerberg’s group takes this route they can single-handedly give a voice to science in the US and give more legitimacy to science lobbies in other countries.

 

Zuckerberg’s new direction may come as a surprise to many but it was only a natural step for him to take. He changed the world once with some code he wrote in his dorm room but the question is: can he do it again from the seat of power? And will it be to the benefit of the rest of us?

Gapslot: Version 1

Overview

Last week, I was sitting with some friends as we discussed our newly assigned schedules for the semester. Naturally we were trying to figure out when everyone was free so we could hang out. As we scratched our heads trying to coordinate 6 or so schedules (each one more scattered and hideous than the last) I made a passing comment that it probably wouldn’t be too hard to write a program that solved this problem. One of my friends suggested that we instead just write everything down on a piece of paper. Anyone who knows a computer scientist will tell you how much comments like these make us twitch. Why? Because it is our (or at least my) firm belief that any task that can be automated should be automated.

So I took his statement as a challenge and decided to make an app just for fun. I worked on it intermittently over a week and this is what I came up with. It’s coded with python on Google App Engine (side-note, they limited my choice of names so I had to pick one I didn’t really like), using jinja2 for templates and I learned a little bit of javascript/jquery to make the interface. It’s quite lacking in the design area because I am not well versed at making things pretty but it should work well. There are a couple of bugs; I know. If you think these are bad, you should see the ones I spent the week fixing. I would have fixed the rest but this project was taking too long so I decided it’s better to post something that works with one or two bugs than to get sick of it, give up and have nothing to show for all my work. If I get around to making a V2 I’ll fix them but for now I’ll just note what I know about.

Here’s the link to the app if you want to check it out, and below is a walkthrough of the app’s functionality.

Walkthrough

I made the homepage as simple as possible. Apps should try to guide the user where they want to go and minimize confusion.

 

Assuming you’re a first time user you’ll click the right button and be taken to a page where you create a group. Obvious issues: nothing to stop you from messing up your password and nothing to stop a script making tons of groups. Worst case scenario: the app exceeds the datastore write limit and nobody can make new groups for a day. Precautions I DID take: passwords are hashed (with a salt to prevent the use of a rainbow lookup tables) and html is escaped.

 

Now you have a group, and you want to add your schedule.

 

Type in your name and click and drag to fill out the table. I tried to program the click and drag functionality myself using jquery so it gets a little funny sometimes. You can click slots individually if it does and submit when you’re done.

 

Once you submit you’ll be taken to your group schedule page. A slot is red if at least one person is busy. If you want to plan a group activity, go for white but if you find yourself free during one of the red slots, hover over to see who else is free. You can also navigate to this page from the “View Group Schedule” button. If you go back to the main page from this one you can try it but you’ll have to refresh the page or empty all fields except for the group name and password. This is another minor bug but it’s a step up from having the entire app crash whenever one field was wrong.

 

And there you have it! First pet project of the semester. Check it out, play around with it and let me know what you think. More to come soon.

How Google is Changing the World

A friend of mine recently shared an article with me posing the question “What if there were no Google?”. To its credit, the article noted some of the various fields Google has expanded to and that it’s not as simple an answer as “we would use Bing”. However, as a tech geek and something of a Google fan-boy (you have been warned) I was not satisfied with this answer because this isn’t just another company that’s trying to find clever ways to get a hold of your information and make money. This is a company founded by two geeks who want to revolutionize the world with technology and while it may not be free of pitfalls, one need only look at some of the projects they’re working on to see that these people are changing the world through more ways than just search and email. Ways like:

Sci-Fi Hardware

Over the past few decades, we’ve done amazing things with software. We created the bit and taught it to dance but no sci-fi fantasy is complete without some hardware. Things like light-sabers and warp drives are the dream of every geek and while we won’t be whizzing through space battling the empire anytime soon, we can still placate ourselves with things like these.

The Self Driving Car:

If you hadn’t heard yet, Google made a car that uses a combination of radar, cameras and laser range finders to detect its surroundings, maps to know where it is and artificial intelligence to make sense of everything and navigate. Originally, the spark that lead to developing this project was a series of challenges issued by DARPA. Many major universities participated and after some promising demonstrations were made, Google brought together some of the different participants and took the project to the next level. Since then it has become legal for these cars to drive on the roads of California, Florida and Nevada and they’ve logged 300,000 miles without accidents. If you tried it out today it would likely do a very good job of driving you provided normal conditions, just ask the blind man who took it for a test-drive but it’s the abnormal that worries people. Google doesn’t plan on releasing it until they have precautions in place to reasonably protect drivers from any unanticipated situations.

Glass:

Glass is Google’s famous foray into augmented reality. Essentially it’s a small computer with specs similar to those in your average smart phone attached to a pair of glasses. It has an internet connection and GPS, takes input via motion sensors and voice commands and the screen lies slightly above your eye so it’s not too obtrusive. It’s a vision of a world where technology starts to integrate into our lives more seamlessly. So far, all anyone’s seen outside the concept video is that you can stream what you see to others via the internet. If that was all there was to it then it wouldn’t be anything particularly exceptional however you’ll soon be able to judge for yourself as it’s available for developers to play around with and they’re anticipating a release by 2014/15.

Re-invented Hardware

For a company that made it’s fortune off of software, Google play around a lot with hardware. Aside from the famous Nexus phones, there are some other very interesting pieces of tech coming from the search giant.

Nexus Q:

The Nexus Q is one very curious project that to the disappointment of many techies has been shut down. The idea behind it was that it would simplify sharing media with friends and streaming it to your home devices. All your music, movies and photos are stored online and you use an app on your phone to choose what you want to see or listen to and which screen/speakers to send it to and the Q mediates. What makes this different from connecting directly with your phone is that you can have a shared playlist, so if you’re having friends over they can add things to the list from their own devices (this video explains it better). It got scrapped due to various criticisms, mainly that the price was a little steep given the functionality. However, despite its flop, the Q still tried to re-imagine how we control our media and had some features with a lot of promise. It’s not hard to picture an enhanced iteration of the product coming out to redeem its predecessor.

Fiber:

Google changed how we use the internet, so why not how we access it? Recently, the company announced that they would set up an experimental fiber optic network by the name of Fiber in Kansas City. This experiment would give the community the option of 1Gb/sec internet at $70/month ($120 if you want HDTV). This isn’t the first time internet this fast has existed but the prospect of it being mainstream is exciting. Not just because you could have super-fast downloads and no more buffering but because individuals in the community who don’t want the full package can have normal internet free of charge (except for the one-time construction fee). Although, it probably wouldn’t be nice to be the one kid on the block with 6Mb/s.

Behind The Scenes AI

The stuff that goes on under the hood at Google is in many respects a lot cooler than their products. The company has researchers working on various areas in computer science but by far their favorite seems to be AI.

The Knowledge Graph:

You may have noticed recently that when you search, a big box of facts sometimes appears on the right of your results. This is a result of the Knowledge Graph, a sort of second database that groups data into concepts. Normally, when you search you get a list of the pages you most likely want based on a few different factors including statistical information derived from old search logs, keyword indexing and the famous PageRank algorithm. This works excellently but you still have to sift through those results to get the information you want, but what if the search engine did that for you? The Knowledge Graph is essentially an attempt to do just that, make the search engine understand what you want and give you a quick overview of the relevant information. It’s powered by an open source database called Freebase that collects information from various sources across the web and links each piece of information to other related ones in a graph data structure. So for example, one entry in the database has various information about Egypt from Wikipedia, CIA Factbook and numerous others and this entry is connected to entries about Egypt’s Olympic gold medalists which in turn are connected to other entries. When you search for something, Google finds the entry most related to what you’re looking for, parses it for information and displays that information to you along with suggestions of other things that might be relevant. The idea is that eventually, you won’t have to go through pages to find what you want, Google will understand and just give you a straightforward answer.

Cat Videos:

Photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

In AI, there’s a technology known as a neural network. Neural networks are simplified models of part of the brain replicated in software; you feed them data and they learn concepts. This is used for image recognition, speech recognition and a lot of other fields. But there’s a limit to what you can make it learn…unless you make it bigger. Google has the resources so they made a very large neural network (powered by 16000 processors) and fed it random images from YouTube videos. The network eventually conceptualized “cats” (which tells you something about the internet but that’s another matter). Which means if the network is shown new cat pictures, it will know they’re cats. Are you freaking out yet? To be fair, the technology wasn’t invented by Google, just done bigger and Microsoft is doing something similar with speech. But in general, this means that eventually you will be able to search for images and Google won’t just look for tags and text in web pages to determine what’s a relevant image; it will take those images and know which ones are the object you’re looking for just as if it was a human.

Data Accessibility

Data surround us at every corner. There’s a lot we could stand to learn from it, it’s just a matter of wading through it all. Which is why every now and then, Google likes to give us a new tool to let us play around with the same data they do.

N-gram Viewer:

A couple of years back, Google started scanning and uploading many libraries’ collections of books and magazines through Google Books. Some of them are restricted by copyright so you can only see snippets of them online. Others are not and you can read them in their entirety. They number just over 5 million and some of the texts date back to 1800 and since they were scanned with OCR (optical character recognition) the computer recognizes the text and they are searchable. This is not the cool part. Since they are searchable, we can analyze them and learn a lot about how human culture has changed over the past 200 years. So the good people of Google made an app called N-gram viewer that lets you type in a word or short phrase in several languages (it can’t exceed 5 words because of copyright) and see a plot of its frequency in print. So if you search for “God” you’ll see that that word appears much less frequently now than it did 200 years ago and you can see exactly when this started. Why did this happen? What circumstances in history lead to this? These questions aren’t always easily answered but being able to see these trends derived from real data means we can ask the right questions and learn things about ourselves that we couldn’t necessarily see before.

Correlate:

One popular data-analysis tool made by the Googlers is Google Trends. If you haven’t heard of it then a) it’s a tool that lets you type in one or more search terms and see search frequencies plotted over time b) go play with it…now. In 2008 after the swine flu ordeal, Google found out through Trends and other tools that some search terms correlated with the flu outbreak and could act as good warning signs so they used that pattern to find all predictive terms and warn people about potential epidemics . This idea of inputting a trend and receiving search terms was so well received that Google released an app that does just that. Correlate lets you input a file describing a particular trend and returns search terms that follow that trend and graphs for each. If you don’t have files like that lying around then you can just type in a term and get terms that correlate with it. So for example, type in “Islamism” and you might expect to see that word correlated with news-related terms and events however the graph shows that searches peak twice a year every year at the same times, which at first glance makes absolutely no sense. Take a look beneath the graph and you’ll notice it correlates well with “mla footnotes”, “social movements” and “endnotes” and the two peaks are in May and December…finals time. Evidently, there seems to be more students who procrastinate than people who follow politics.

Search Tools

While you may roll your eyes at how obvious this one is, there’s more to the search functionality than meets the eye.

Search Parameters:


Did you ever consider that you were searching wrong? Obviously, the way the average person searches gets the job done most of the time otherwise Google wouldn’t be so popular. However, the search engine offers a lot of ways to augment your search that not everyone knows about. These can be very useful if you’re a student or researcher. For example, you can exclude results that contain a particular term, filter results by year, search for terms that are highly correlated with your primary search term and search only for specific file types. Mashable have made an infographic that will give you a pretty solid idea of what you can do.

Goggles:

Goggles (not to be confused with Glass) is a fairly old mobile app that lets you use an image as your search term. So if you take a picture of a logo, book cover, artwork or even a landmark (among other things) then the app will tell you what you just took a picture of and give you similar images, reviews, articles etc. This is a cool direction to go because its a step towards more natural searching. It’s like having a very knowledgeable friend with you who you can ask “Hey, what’s that thing?”. Although in its current state, it’s a friend who is not always very bright.

Crisis Response

One thing you don’t often hear about is Google.org, the philanthropic arm of the Google corporation. They have a multitude of projects and one of their best is their crisis response. Whenever there’s a disaster be it a hurricane, flood, wildfire, earthquake, typhoon, oil spill or anything else that affects a large number of people, Google assess the situation and see if they are in a position to uniquely help. If they are then those suffering from the disaster will see one or more of many tools provided to help them like:

Person finder- When there are a lot of missing individuals, this lets you search for them and provide information if you’ve found any. People often have to search in all the different repositories that appear online post-crisis for information on their loved ones. The idea is sites reference the app in their html and any info they have becomes reference-able by person finder.

Public Alerts- If you’re searching for information about the crisis and alert-mode is on then you will get any important information at the top of your search in a format most useful to you. If you’re an organization with alerts, you can get your information to Google so it shows up when people search.

Custom Google Maps- If you have any data about where to get supplies or help, where to assist, where there are road closures etc you can make a custom map with the information overlayed on it, upload it and allow others to add information so anyone who needs help can easily see where to go for it. This was used during the 2010 earthquake in Newzealand.

Google Earth- Similar to maps but not quite the same. Shortly after the Haiti earthquake, there was a cholera outbreak. Doctors Without Borders was responding to this crisis and for every patient that was admitted they would mark their hometown on Google Earth and after a while they began to see patterns that indicated what the causes and catalysts of the outbreak might be.

Google is undoubtedly an amazing company. Two nerds with a passion for what they do turned a thesis into something much bigger and by gathering like minded people and looking at the world’s problems through technological eyes they’re trying to change the world in more ways than just search. However, as much as I love them Google are by no means perfect and to think they are would be folly at best. So for those of you who’ve been twitching at my fanboy-ism from behind the screen and those of you who want to see the other side of Google, I’ve appended a short list of things they’ve been called out for.

Taking Ideas- Not all of Google’s technologies were invented under their roof. Being such a huge company they are acquisitioning businesses left and right. Android was originally designed by someone else, they funded his work and absorbed the product. The self-driving car project originally started as an inter-university competition, Google hired the best of the competing engineers and added its own touch.

Privacy- Google collects and stores information for your IP address on their servers to improve search results and ads. According to them it’s anonymized but it still alarms some people. This is compounded by the fact that world governments frequently ask Google for data on users and the company can’t always say no. This is perhaps more of a problem with internet legislation but having all your information on their servers probably doesn’t help.

More privacy- Google is known to use software that scans email content to produce relevant ads for you. No human reads these emails, but some believe that there should be a red-line when it comes to certain information.

Employees- Interviews with ex-employees and reviews on glassdoor indicate that Google isn’t necessarily a perfect place to work as is often thought. It’s said that advancement in the company is very slow and often more based on your connections than anything else. The competitive environment results in people having to work extra hours and attend social events at the company or risk stagnation, something felt more by the older employees who are not given as much preference as the younger ones.

There you have it folks! If you enjoyed this, stay tuned for more including posts about my own work.