People, have we not learned anything from moving pictures? Skynet, Omni Consumer Products, Cylons — heck, even the Borg? Do not entrust networks with intelligence. Things end poorly. Cybernetic killing machines aside, the semantic Web, otherwise known as Web 3.0, should still scare the bejeezus out of you. Radar Networks and Spock.com, two startups in the news, show us why we need to unplug Web 2.0 before it upgrades itself and no one can stop it.
Radar Networks, a semantic-Web pioneer, wants to bestow intelligent search and linking upon the Internet. Planning a trip to Vegas? You'll instantly know who in your network lives there, where they work, their favorite casinos and whether they wear boxers or briefs. Radar's client software, masked as a digital life organizer, will be able to ferret out all your engagements and use them to plot out everything from your next doctor's appointment to tomorrow's Happy Hour. Or, one day, in a future version, conspire to kill you if you're not maximizing your life potential.
Search engine Spock is, similarly, just at the beginning of its ultracreepy potential. The newly launched people-finder has already been stirring up concerns over personal privacy. While every tidbit of personal info it gathers was willingly surrendered to various social networks, the information was scattered across multiple sites. Now that it's all in one place, it's easily compiled for various nefarious ends. Standards for metadata, the big kahuna of Web 3.0, just promises to make things easier for Web-scouring sites like Spock.
The problem with Spock and the greater ideal of a semantic Web is the continued need for human input. Intelligent tags for metadata don't magically appear. Humans need to establish the relationships between data points. Even Spock claims to rely on users to ensure personal data is correct. Spock is going to have a hard time keeping tabs of all 6 billion people. How exactly is a semantic Web going to manage a world's worth of data? Wikipedia can barely keep itself straight.
The really scary thing is if they actually manage to do the job. If the Semantic Web becomes real, we're all surely doomed. It's just a matter of time before the computers figure out they don't need us. So thanks a lot, Spock and Radar, for working towards a better, humanity-less tomorrow.