Increasingly bonkers Google governor Eric Schmidt has seen the future, and you might have to change your name to be a part of it.
According to the man in charge of the company de facto in charge of the web, young people's tendency to post embarrassing personal information and photographs to Googleable social networks means that in the future they will all be entitled to change their name on reaching adulthood.
Of course, in the UK and US at least, everyone already has the right to change their name. However, according to an interview in the Wall Street Journal Schmidt "apparently seriously" predicts that erasing your identity so you are not embarrassed when others Google you will become a common rite of passage.
"I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time," he says.
Of course, recording everything and making it knowable by everyone all the time is Google's stated mission, and it is profiting handsomely from the fact that society doesn't understand the consequences.
Schmidt has lately developed a habit of offering dystopian visions of our Googley future. His famous pronouncement on privacy last year - that "if you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place" - set the sociopathic, hypocritical tone. Google notoriously refused to speak to CNET journalists for months after they published information about Schmidt obtained from Google searches.
Despite this vengeful protection of his own privacy from his own search engine, Schmidt today maintains Google's line - one of its favourite anti-regulatory positions on a host of issues - that users will simply walk away if it does anything "creepy". He's unfazed by the contradiction between this assertion and his somewhat creepy claims that
people Google nodes in the future will feel the need to change their names because of the information linked to their real identities.
His latest musings on the direction of Planet Google also offer bad news for people who like to think or make decisions. "I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions," he claims. "They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next."
As such, Schmidt's plan for Google involves developing algorithms to tell you things you didn't know you wanted to know, to create an illusion of serendipity. In the future, you'll be bossed around by your Android mobile phone - it'll apparently tell you to buy milk, for example.
"One idea is that more and more searches are done on your behalf without you needing to type," he says.
"The thing that makes newspapers so fundamentally fascinating — that serendipity — can be calculated now. We can actually produce it electronically," he explains.
Go here to read the interview with Schmidt. ®