Commune With the Eager, Friendly Robots at Google's Web Lab

Yearlong Chrome exhibit running on- and offline

The machines have won. Let us bow down to our Chrome overlords and anoint their WebSockets with precious oils! Lots of folks will enjoy Google's Web Lab, a free, yearlong exhibit at London's Museum of Science, produced with Tellart and B-Reel, that's also accessible 24/7 online. Alas, I'm not one of them. The lab features experiments that illustrate different technologies found in Google Chrome. Make music with a robotic orchestra! Discover where all the world's online info is physically stored! Watch sketchbots draw your likeness in trays of sand! The lab looks pretty cool in both its physical and virtual manifestations, and I'm not debating its educational value or power to entertain. Here's the thing: It's a small step from sketchbots to killbots, people. Give these droids your photo, and they'll know what you look like! I'm exaggerating, but there is a creepy, controlling undercurrent here, most notably in the Lab Tag feature, which stores information about each visit, underscoring the fact that in Google's universe, all data must be saved and categorized for use in ad serving and other modes of corporate commerce. The lab's giddy techtopian vision seems naive (or even duplicitous), inferring that technology has no downside and suggesting that if we just trust the programmers, everything will be fine: We'll toil happily all day in a shiny HTML9 world, lulled off to dreamland each night by soothing techno laced with important messages (Google's great!) that everybody (Chrome rules! Buy more stuff!) wants to hear. Oh alright, if there are sexbots, count me in.