20 December 2004

Google Inventions of the Future

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Google Inventions of the Future (4 of 10)

Number 4. Google AdWalls. Inspired by a scene in Truffaut's "Fahrenheit 451," a Google engineer in 2028 creates Google AdWalls. Like a living poster on the wall, they display a variety of items to shop for. The spin here is that AdWalls listen to what people in the room are talking about, managing to display context-relevant information only. If they hear a "Honey, where's the toothpaste?" in the morning, they will instantly display the fitting spot advertising toothpaste and talk the viewer into buying it.

What went right: Lonely people realized they could talk to their walls to suppress boredom. While not exactly intelligent, the algorithm always managed to stay on topic.

What went wrong: Landlords installing AdWalls could lower the rent because they'd get a commission for items bought. The idea was this way everybody would benefit. However after the first wave of suicide attempts caused by annoying, ever-talking AdWalls, Google felt forced to shut down the program.

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