Life After Google - A book review

Feb 04, 2021

George Gilder is an octogenarian who gets around. Author of nineteen books, inventor, economist, influential venture investor, these are about 1% of his achievements. His latest book, Life after Google, published in 2018, just found its way onto my night table. The title is intriguing, as is the man. So, I figured it will be an easy read.

It isn’t. There are a lot of thought-provoking ideas and sharp witticisms that require a double take. But it’s worth the effort. It seems that most of George’s predictions have come true, making those who paid attention into very wealthy people.

The gist of the book is that Google (yes, Google!) is destined to fall. Seems like just another one of George’s contrarian opinions. And it’s grounded on a single, profound notion. “The crisis of the current order in security, privacy, intellectual property, business strategy, and technology is fundamental and cannot be solved within the current computer and network architecture.

Security is not a benefit or upgrade that can be supplied by adding new layers of passwords, pony-tailed ‘swat teams,’ intrusion detection schemes, anti-virus patches, malware prophylactics, and software retro-fixes. Security is the foundation of all other services and crucial to all financial transactions. IT is the most basic and indispensable component of any information technology.”

So, says George, it can’t be fixed. We have to start over. The new start, he claims, is the blockchain.

Well then, what does this have to do with Google? Why are they the target of the author’s barbs?

George goes into a litany of opposition to Google’s founding and operating principles, but their greatest crime is that everything they offer is free. Email, maps, YouTube videos, music, Android apps, games, etc. Let’s return to George’s writing.

“So, what’s wrong with free? It is always a lie, because on this earth nothing, in the end, is free. You are exchanging incommensurate items. For glimpses of a short a video that you may or may not want to see to the end, you agree to watch an ad long enough to click it closed. Instead of paying — and signaling — with the fungible precision of money, you pay in the slippery coin of information and distraction. Of all Google’s foundational principles, the zero price, is apparently its most benign. Yet it will prove to be not only its most pernicious principle but the fatal flaw that dooms Google itself.”

Well, that’s my summary of chapters the first two of twenty-three chapters. Many of these are hard reads, and George’s ideas need a lot of afterthought. He’s not an easy man to dismiss, though. “Get ready for the $16.8 trillion reboot of 2020 and beyond,” explains George Gilder, described as “America’s #1 futurist”. “Today’s internet cannot survive. The next new paradigm could impact over $16.8 trillion in the world economy. And you could get very rich as it does.[1]”.