Google’s expanding empire has of late met with harsh criticism on the fronts of privacy and censorship, but has so far retained a magisterial air—making few concessions and continuing to push acceptance of its new technological paradigms. Amidst criticism that the company has done little to safeguard its patrons’ personal information, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said today that few appreciate the extent to which information is in public view:
“I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time,” he says. He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends’ social media sites.
Sounds like a rather poor substitute for good old confession. More to his point, loosening the strictures around name changing would be a plausible, if chaos inducing, band-aid solution to the problem. What’s still more worrying is that our future marker of identity will be far too complex to be reducible to a name.