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Google vs. Evil

There's a great article in Wired titled Google vs. Evil, on Google's attempts to stay ethical yet practical. So far, Google has been a great success story on this front, but the author of the article has a somewhat pessimistic view of the situation, predicting that Google may well have to compromise its ethics more and more in the long term.

Comments (5)

Now *that* was an interesting link. I hadn't realized Google was privately owned, and I hadn't thought about the implications of private ownership on a company's ethical policies. One thing the article hinted at but didn't say outright is that google is sort of a benevolent dictatorship at the moment, and it seems to me that a benevolent dictatorship is preferable to a democracy. The trick, of course, lies in keeping the dictatorship benevolent. =)

The problem with a benevolent dictatorship is that the next dictator might not be as benevolent. In the long run, a democracy is still better. At least from the political science point of view. In the case of Google, however, the dictatorship is definitely the way to go. :)

The problem with companies is that there is no equivalent of a "democracy", anyway. "Public" companies do not act in the interests of the public but rather in the interests of the stockholders. So here, a benevolent dictator model is the only one in which the interests of the public might ever outweight the interests of profit.

This is the problem with companies having influence in government.

I disagree--a "public" company is the equivalent of a democracy. And it is supposed to act in the best interest of the members of the "democracy"--the shareholders, who elect the board of directors. In reality the board of directors controls everything, and the average shareholder is totally clueless, but nonetheless, the shareholders do have the power to unite and elect a different board of directors. The general public shouldn't expect a "public" company to act in it's interest, much like you don't expect the U.S. government to conduct policy in a way that above all aims to benefit Canadians.

Whether or not a public company is a good model for responsible corporate behavior is a different story.

I actually said the same thing, really. I just confusingly used the word "democracy" where I shouldn't have. :P What I mean was that, yeah, shareholders have the power in a public company, but they don't serve the interests of the general public, whereas a benevolent dictactor might.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 15, 2002.

The previous post in this blog was Dream: The Clairvoyant.

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