John McAfee: Google drives humans to 'least common denominator'

Speaking at Defcon, the notorious security expert lambastes what he sees as Google's destruction of privacy.

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John McAfee, speaking at Defcon. BBC screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

In recent times, privacy has been sacrificed on the altars of narcissism, laziness, and the joy of something-for-nothing. Some may wonder whether all our public exposure has a darker side.

Security expert and former fugitive John McAfee isn't enamored with all things Google. Speaking Saturday at the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas, McAfee suggested Google's influence on society is decidedly pernicious.

"If everybody knew everything about everybody else, what would human behavior become?" McAfee asked, according to the BBC. "We would be limited to the least common denominator of human behavior: those behaviors which no one would find offensive."

"We cannot have intrusions into our lives and still have freedom," he added.

CNET has reached out to Google about McAfee's comments. We'll update this story if we get a response.

Google -- along with Facebook, Amazon, and other companies -- freely admits it scans our theoretically private content such as emails and search history. One explanation offered by Google is that scanning allows it to pester us with ads that are "good" for us.

In slightly older times, though, what if everyone had known that every letter sent was being opened by the US Postal Service? More than one voice might have mused: "Hey, are we East Germany?"

For companies like Google, subverting conventional ideas of privacy is less a social or political statement and more a necessary path to money.

It was interesting to hear of a story told by The Information about Google CEO Larry Page attempting to praise his sales staff (and apparently making them feel denigrated) for "collecting the money."

Money is what Google needs to finance its so-called "moon shot" ideas -- experimental initiatives meant to push technology forward in leaps -- such as cars that drive themselves and cell phones that are worn on heads. Reading your emails and following you everywhere is how "the money" is generated.

As often with humans, we may not realize the true consequences of our essential complacency until several generations have entirely exposed themselves.

It's only then that we utter those timeworn words: "Oh, look what we've gone and done."

 

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