Google Announces Chrome OS, Microsoft Cries

Google has announced Chrome OS, an operating system built off of the Linux kernel for desktop computers and netbooks.  Are you as unsurprised as I am?  I hope to god Microsoft isn’t.  But then again, ever since the release of Windows XP, Microsoft has been running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off.

This, dear friends, was inevitable.  But many people may be asking, why?  Just like many asked the same question when Google released their Chrome Browser.

It has nothing to do with the fact that Google and Microsoft are competing like, well, Goliath and Goliath.  It runs much deeper than that.  As years have gone by, operating systems (well, Microsoft’s in particular) have gotten way too bloated, and the Internet has gotten way too fast.  You know the routine by now: every 2-3 years, you buy a new PC, with a faster processor, faster graphics processor, bigger hard drive, and with a new version of Windows on it.  And I’m sure plenty of you asked, “Why?  The Internet looks the same on all of these computers!”.  You’re exactly right.

How much time does anyone spend on their computer these days that’s not in a web-browser, using web-based email or web-based instant messenger?  The Web Browser is the new OS (well, at least the part of it you see).  Anyone still surprised that Google’s web browser and newly announced OS share the same name?

In the last few years, web technologies have gotten incredibly good at making you feel like the browser is the same as your desktop.  AJAX really opened the floodgates for web-based applications that behaved like “regular” programs.  As a result, Google Docs have gotten pretty damn good.  In fact, I don’t even own a copy of Microsoft Office anymore, I just do all of my documents in Google Docs.  I have yet to find a feature that I need they don’t have, and my documents are available to me anywhere, because they’re in the cloud.

More recent developments are pushing us even closer to a web browser OS world.

Does it shock you at all that Google has been heavily involved in providing APIs to do rich 3D graphics rendering right in the browser?

What about the HTML 5 video standard? Once codecs are decided on, embedding video will be as easy as embedding an image in your HTML.  This means Flash video will be rendered obselete.  Apple doesn’t look so dumb after all not worrying about Flash running on the iPhone now do they?

So, the web browser becomes the artist’s blank page, for software slingers to serve up applications for email, photo editing, making presentations, editing documents.  And underneath will be the OS kernel, providing access to the hardware on your device.  And that’s it.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, because you don’t need to have all your software installed locally.  It’s in the cloud, where it belongs.

Google Adwords Epic Fail!

Artificial intelligence is still a ways off :).

Each year there is a competition known well by those in the field of artificial intelligence called the Loebner Prize.  The ultimate goal of artificial intelligence is to make it indistinguishable from real intelligence (so someday geeks like me can just code up a friend in C++). In the 1950s, Alan Turing proposed a test–cleverly named the Turing Test–to measure an AI’s level of intelligence, which the Loebner Prize competition uses to select their winner.  The contestants basically write software to implement their artificial entities, and then judges chat with both real humans and the artificial entities and then guess which ones are real humans and which ones are not.

Criticisms of the accuracy of the Turing Test aside, today I saw something that reminded me of just how far off truly intelligent artificial beings really are.  I was watching a video on YouTube from Bill Maher’s TV show and he threw out some statistic like “8 kids are shot and killed with guns every day in America.”  Since that seemed like an awfully high number I decided to check into it.  So I pull up Google and type in “kids shot”.  Not my best Google search query ever, but I figured it would get the job done.  Google dutifully returned a saddening number of news stories about kids being shot by guns.  It also came back with a single advertisement generated by good ‘ole Adwords…

Adwords Epic Fail
Adwords Epic Fail

Not only is the statistic true, if you click on that advertisement, it goes to a toy gun that Target is selling!  If Target ran a TV ad for toy guns right after a news story of a kid getting shot, they’d have a PR nightmare on their hands.  Lucky for them, you can’t yet blame a computer for doing the Adwords equivalent.