What’s Mine is Mine and What’s Yours is Mine

We're hot in the AI movement right now, regardless if most of the generative stuff out there is a giant BS machine. It hasn't stopped the likes of Microsoft adding ChatGPT to Bing and Google rolling out Bard. But all that AI needs to be trained on real data and so Google is doing what they always do: taking the entire internet for themselves. Because they can. Thomas Germain at Gizmodo has more.

Google updated its privacy policy over the weekend, explicitly saying the company reserves the right to scrape just about everything you post online to build its AI tools. If Google can read your words, assume they belong to the company now, and expect that they’re nesting somewhere in the bowels of a chatbot. 

“Google uses information to improve our services and to develop new products, features and technologies that benefit our users and the public,” the new Google policy says. “For example, we use publicly available information to help train Google’s AI models and build products and features like Google Translate, Bard, and Cloud AI capabilities.”

This is an unusual clause for a privacy policy. Typically, these policies describe ways that a business uses the information that you post on the company’s own services. Here, it seems Google reserves the right to harvest and harness data posted on any part of the public web, as if the whole internet is the company’s own AI playground. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


The crazy thing about Google scraping the entire internet for its own benefit is there is no way to stop them. Yes, I could update my own Privacy Policy for TimeMachiner to state that scraping of my work is not allowed. And who is going to stop Google from doing it anyway? This is the same thing we've seen with Dall-E and other generative art systems that have been trained on huge swaths of images without permission.

While I agree that if these systems don't get more information they cannot improve, I wholly disagree that the entire internet is Google's playground. The internet was meant to be free and open with information for all. Now it is a place for a for-profit monolith to generate more for-profit content in order to generate more profits.