“The Selfish Ledger” (2016) is a leaked internal Google video by Nick Foster, the head of design at Google’s research-and-development division, X. It draws on theories of evolutionary biology to explain how the collective data history of all devices could be used by an AI “ledger” similar to how genes shape characteristics of future generations. As explained by Foster:
“User-centered design principles have dominated the world of computing for many decades, but what if we looked at things a little differently? What if the ledger could be given a volition or purpose rather than simply acting as a historical reference? What if we focused on creating a richer ledger by introducing more sources of information? What if we thought of ourselves not as the owners of this information, but as custodians, transient carriers, or caretakers?…By thinking of user data as multigenerational, it becomes possible for emerging users to benefit from the preceding generation’s behaviors and decisions.”
This database of human behavior can be mined for patterns, and “sequenced” like the human genome, making future behaviors and decisions easier to predict and direct. According to Google the video was designed to be provocative and did not relate to any products in development. Watch it yourself and decide.