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Google.org, a For-Profit Charity 355

Posted by kdawson
from the for-the-greater-good dept.
Google has set up a subsidiary, Google.org, a for-profit philanthropy with initial capital of a billion dollars. Not being organized on a tax-free basis carries both advantages and drawbacks. From the article: "Unlike most charities, this one will be for-profit, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes." One of Google.org's first projects is the development of a plug-in hybrid vehicle that achieves a mileage rating equivalent to 100 MPG.
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Google.org, a For-Profit Charity

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:16AM (#16127844)
    Here's a link to the same story that doesn't require registration

    http://news.com.com/Googles+unusual+approach+to+ph ilanthropy/2100-1014_3-6115533.html [com.com]

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:50AM (#16128165)
      I'm developing a car that will get negative 100MPG to cancel this out.

      Actually I'm trying to cancel out this goofy definition of MPG when there's electricity involved. Does a pure electric car get Infinity Miles per gallon?

      This sort of reminds me of a prank a friend pulled in college. One guy was always entering the room to announce he had managed to drive is economy car so skillfully that got outrageous gas milage. Tiring of this, my friend started adding a gallon of gas to the braggarts tank every night so that his milage and brags got bigger and bigger. Then the next week he started siphoning out a gallon out of the tank. The brags "mysteriously" ceased without explanation.

      So my car is going to use photovoltaics, and have an onboard device that inhales smog, and uses the electricity to produce gasoline. Then I'm going to drive up to gas stations, connect the hose and pump gas back into the filling station tanks. That will mess with their arithmetic! and I'll have my negative 100MPG vehicle.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fo0bar (261207)
        Actually I'm trying to cancel out this goofy definition of MPG when there's electricity involved. Does a pure electric car get Infinity Miles per gallon?

        Yes, it does, considering there is no gas involved.

        I don't understand what you think is "goofy" about this. I put 10 gallons of gas into my Prius, I get 500 miles out of those 10 gallons. Hence, 50MPG. The fact that there is an electrical aspect is irrelevant.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MadUndergrad (950779)
          The hybrid still gets all its power from the gasoline. When you start plugging it into the wall (as is the case with these "100MPG hybrids") it stops being entirely a question of efficiency and starts becoming one of battery capacity. That's why the definition in this case is goofy.
        • by ColaMan (37550) on Monday September 18, 2006 @02:40AM (#16128287) Homepage Journal
          He's talking about the plug-in hybrids... I suppose you could convert the cost of the electricity into how much gas that would buy and go from there.

          eg: You use $1.20 of electricity to charge your electric-only car up. Gas costs $2.40/gal. You have bought the equivalent of 1/2 gal of gas. You drive 100 miles before recharging, thus you've reached the equivalent of 200MPG.
          • You could do all that or just measure the costs incurred maintaining that vehicle in terms of $/mile or miles/$. This makes details of the fuel used irrelevant. This way most economic car would be the one that gives more miles per buck. And yeah we could keep all the pollution norms in place to make sure that the new type of fuel would be easy on environment.
            • Gas should be insured against future pollution cleanup costs, in order to have a realistic pricing. With that, and suitable requirements for the companies doing the insuring (no "We're just going to set it up so we go bankrupt the day we have to handle things, and take the profit now"), the market could take care of optimizing *including* pollution handling...

              Eivind.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Wouldn't it be easier to get -100MPG by driving around in reverse?
  • Odd. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tavor (845700)
    Odd that Google would take a for-profit route, considering how many "non-profits" lobby congress. (I use that term loosely, because of certian Telco and Music NPOs.) Granted, I would LOVE to see Google.org create a better Hybrid, counter the Telcos at their own game, and hopefully devolop a Nationwide Broadband/Fiber Initiative.
    • by zobier (585066)
      I would LOVE to see Google.org [snip] devolop a Nationwide Broadband/Fiber Initiative.
      Somehow, I don't think improving America's Internet access is the kind of project this .org is going to be pursuing.
    • Re:Odd. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BacOs (33082) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:32AM (#16127912) Homepage
      Odd that Google would take a for-profit route

      I don't find it odd at all. I'm involved with several FLOSS projects and one of them recently researched starting its own foundation (non-profit) or corporation (for profit). Everyone I talked to (including people associated with the Mozilla Foundation and the Python and Apache Software Foundations) recommended starting a for profit corporation. The restrictions placed on federally tax exempt (501(c)(3)) organizations was too great in their opinion. With a for profit corporation, you have much fewer restrictions.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drDugan (219551) *
        Those restrictions are there for a reason. I agree they are sometimes onerous. However, they make it so that the organization actually must do charitable things, and they make impossible to do the "screw everyone and take the money" things.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rs79 (71822)
          "Those restrictions are there for a reason. I agree they are sometimes onerous. However, they make it so that the organization actually must do charitable things, and they make impossible to do the "screw everyone and take the money" things."

          A one word rebuttal: ICANN.

    • Re:Odd. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by argoff (142580) * on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:25AM (#16128081)
      The truth is that most people need is the power to help themselves, not aid. For example, if a person in LA went down to the store, bought and cooked up some hot-dogs, and then sold them on the street corner - he would likely be in jail, taxed, and fined over 40K before the night was out - and then be forced to get permits and inspections at great expense to himself. I'm sorry, no argument about government protecting people can justify that kind of behavior.

      In Africa, a large amount of US aid was used to build a milk plant. But it was not near any cows or roads, and ended up shutting down. Those kinds of mistakes are much more rare in the private sector, because there is accountabillity and control. Many aid loans were blown by corrupt leaders, who then left it to the citizens to pay back.

      In many countries, investors are more than happy to build factories, roads, mines, infrastructure, and the jobs that go with them. But not if government officials demand bribes, permits, taxes, and high fees at every step of the process, and not if they demand high fees on everything imported and exported, and not if the judiciary is so corrupt or slow that they have no recource if land or other items are taken from them. If you had 100 million dollars, would you put it in Venesuela or North Korea right now? People who have paid a bitter price. That's a lot of money, and then they wonder why they have employment problems.

      In China, millions of people died from hunger until the farmers were able to have property rights, then the problem disapeared and the economy started to boom. Really, who would slave away on a farm where they own none of the take and none of the land. Once again, the people in China didn't need charity nor help from the government, what they needed was property rights. Charity would have prolonged the problem and made it worse. What they needed was the power to help themselves, once they got it then the poverty problems took care of themselves naturally.
      • Re:Odd. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by xappax (876447) on Monday September 18, 2006 @03:00AM (#16128343)
        it was not near any cows or roads, and ended up shutting down. Those kinds of mistakes are much more rare in the private sector, because there is accountabillity and control.

        Ever heard of the Bhopal disaster [wikipedia.org]? It was one of the most deadly industrial accidents ever, and it was due to the negligence of Union Carbide employees (a US corporation). How about the Exxon Valdez [wikipedia.org]? Yet another vast catastrophe caused by irresponsible employees of a US corporation. Or hey, a little closer to geek-home - how about when MasterCard allowed 40 million credit card numbers [msn.com] to be stolen (the largest such leak ever reported) due to poor software design?

        The funny thing about these incidents of corporate irresponsibility is that not only did these companies have totally stupid policies that were very likely to result in danger, once disaster struck they were totally unaccountable for the damage they caused.

        It would be moronic to claim that the government knows best, or that massive bureaucracy is an effective way to make decisions, but this song and dance about how profit-driven instutitions magically become the most efficient and responsible is absurd.

        In many countries, investors are more than happy to build factories, roads, mines, infrastructure, and the jobs that go with them.

        Yes, those factories are often sweatshops. Those roads often damage delicate environment which is needed for eco-tourism, scientific research, or agriculture. Those mines can be unregulated death-traps for miners in addition to causing toxic runoff pollution of local water supplies. None of these problems concern the investor, just the local population. In short, the "infrastructure" eagerly pushed by foriegn investors really isn't infrastructure for the improvement of the country or it's people so much as infrastructure for the improvement of the investor's bottom line. Sure, some officials are just corrupt fucks, but has it ever occured to you that there might be good reasons to try to restrict, regulate, and/or tax foreign companies trying to exploit your sovereign nation?

        I agree with the sentiment that people need to be given the freedom to take care of themselves, but I don't think that empowering and depending on exploitive investors and multinational conglomerates is the way to give people that freedom.
        • MOD ABUSE? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GrumpySimon (707671)
          Does the parent post REALLY need a -1 Troll? You might not agree with him, but there's no obvious trolling above, but a well reasoned and polite response.

        • Overstatement (Score:3, Insightful)

          by anomaly (15035)
          not only did these companies have totally stupid policies that were very likely to result in danger, once disaster struck they were totally unaccountable for the damage they caused.

          With all due respect,I believe that you're overstating or over simplifying your case.

          The Bhopal disaster was a combination of UCC, Indian government failures and cultural issues. High population density because UCC provided JOBS that paid well, challenges due to differences between American and Indian culture, no infrastructure
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by UbuntuDupe (970646)
      For comparison, I remember a while ago hearing about No Sweat Apparel [nosweatapparel.com], another charity-like organization that tries to replace current clothing production with (supposely) that produced under non-exploitative conditions. They explain here [nosweatapparel.com] why they want to be for-profit -- access to more capital, rewards for those who risked a lot, and to promote a viable industry model.

      (Of course, they do use child labor for their advertising, so take it for what it's worth...)
  • by rsborg (111459) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:20AM (#16127864) Homepage
    I know that Google employees receive a $5000 discount (plus a few other perks that I'm not clear on) on any purchase of a hybrid vehicle that gets 45 mpg (ie, Prius, Insight or Civic Hybrid).

    I think one or both of the founders drive a Prius as well, so this would be inline with their vision of what can be done to make the world a better place.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by larry bagina (561269)
      Actually, their founders use this [slashdot.org], which gets 0.3 mpg.
    • I know that Google employees receive a $5000 discount (plus a few other perks that I'm not clear on) on any purchase of a hybrid vehicle that gets 45 mpg (ie, Prius, Insight or Civic Hybrid).

      Your statement implies that they only get the discount (really a employer subsidy) if the vehicle is a hybrid. If that's the case, it seems awfully short-sighted. Why not a conventional gasoline or diesel vehicle that also achieves at least 45mpg too? Is their goal to promote hybrids or to promote efficiency? Seems
    • by ross.w (87751)
      Do they subsidise the replacement lithium ion battery as well? There are going to be a lot of Priuses going cheap in a few years because of the cost of replacing the battery.
      • by Technician (215283) on Monday September 18, 2006 @02:28AM (#16128268)
        FYI, the Prius does not use a Lithium battery.

        For long battery life, they do a lot of battery management to make the battery last the life of the car.

        For starters they do not treat the battery the same way you would treat a cell phone or laptop battery. Full charge then deep discharge cycles are not done. The battery is rarely charged to 100% and almost never discharged below 50%.

        There are Prius cars out there with over 250K miles and still going strong on the original battery. Do some online research on the rate of Prius battery failures. Most battery failures are not the HV traction pack but the 12V cabin battery.

        Cell phones and laptops are often charged fully and run down below 50% for long battery run-time. This kills batteries. Cell phone and laptop batteries life is not expected to last more than a couple years. The Prius battery on the other hand is expected to last the life of the car. The plug in mod may change the expected battery life considerably.
    • So.... supporting a 45mpg hybrid is a GoodThing and supporting a 50mpg conventional, or an electric only, or some other alternative is bad? Sure, hybrids help, but for a lot of people they're just guilt absolvers.
  • interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:22AM (#16127868)

    I submitted this story (same exact NY time article even) 3 days ago, when it was news.

    Anyhow, the term "non-profit" evokes a warm fuzzy feeling that it shouldn't. John D Rockefeller did more to save the whales (via kerosene) than GreenPeace ever will.

    • by Mike Peel (885855)
      You think that's bad? I got half of the story nearly a year back, and posted it here. From my "recent submissions" list:

      Google creates $1bn charity fund Wednesday October 12, @01:58PM Rejected

      But hey, that's Slashdot for you.
  • by atomicstrawberry (955148) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:24AM (#16127877)
    First we'll have the gCar, and it will cost far more than it's actually worth, but investors will cough up the money anyway. Apple will follow suit with their iCar, which will be made out of translucent white plastic, but will only run certain fuels. After making a suitable amount of money selling their iCar, they will begin to market successively smaller iCars, and charge more to get them in black.

    Meanwhile, somewhere in Redmond, Steve Ballmer will be plotting to 'fucking kill' them both. Unfortunately by this stage he'll have put his back out throwing chairs, so he'll instead switch to 'fucking kill'ing them with a motorised chair with wheels, which Microsoft will market it as the Zume.
    • by Cheapy (809643)
      A motorized chair? As opposed to motorized wheels? I'd pay to see that thing!
    • by dattaway (3088)
      SONY will have their line of cars as well, but with DRM'd hydrogen fuel supply sticks. If you try to use an unauthorized fuel source, the vehicle spontaneously explodes, but not until it quietly passes root emissions out of its tailpipe to nearby vehicles.
    • by Cadallin (863437)
      Apple car only run certain fuels? What's that supposed to mean? Apple is generally quite open about allowing people to run whatever they want on the Hardware they sell (their computers anyway, not their Consumer Electronics) Back in the power days, you could run MacOS or any of a number of variants of POWER Unix (Linux, BSD, etc) now you have the option of running OS X, BSD, Linux, or even Windows. The hardware isn't exactly closed in terms of what it can run.
    • by Griim (8798)
      Damn...I didn't realize until I read your comment, but the long-running joke about "driving your Google to the Google to pick up the latest Google" is in its first steps to becoming an actual reality!
  • Innovating (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kbsoftware (1000159) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:24AM (#16127878)
    I don't always agree with Google tactics but at least they are innovative. Certainly changing the internet, computers and now looks like cars and beyond. Microsoft which doesn't innovate just buys or steals will have a hard time competing with such a company. Since I don't see Google being any more evil then Microsoft, I have to cheer to Google since like I said at least they are innovating :) Yeah ok I did a crappy job of explaining the message I'm trying to get through.
    • Re:Innovating (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:57AM (#16127997)
      I don't always agree with Google tactics but at least they are innovative. Certainly changing the internet, computers and now looks like cars and beyond.

      On the other hand, one could easily make the criticism that Google has lost focus and are all over the map, doing a lot of things and most them not anywhere near as well as they do web-searching. Perhaps this is a downside of having too much cash - they just don't have enough good ideas and talented people to make efficient use of all that money.
      • by phorm (591458)
        Their online auction and payment services have great potential. As for others, I'n not sure what potential they have for profit, but their picasa software I've found very useful and it seems to be quite popular as well. Google earth is fairly snazzy as well (with some advertising potential in terms of directory services, etc).
      • by BAM0027 (82813)
        Google embodies innovation, applying that to whatever they can. I see them as continuing to be focused...on innovation, not ideas.
      • Re:Innovating (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cgenman (325138) on Monday September 18, 2006 @04:04AM (#16128477) Homepage
        Remember, Google requires their employees to spend one day a week on a pet project. A lot of things like Google Earth and Picasa come from these. Some of these have tremendous data value, like Orkut and Google Desktop. Some, like Picasa, may someday have tremendous data value but don't currently. But they're only hitting 1/5th of the engineer's time.

        Valuable Google Assets: Alerts, Blogger, Desktop, Directory (DMOZ), Images, Maps, News, Toolbar, Web Search, Gmail, Mobile, SMS
        Could be Valuable: Book Search, Catalogs, Checkout, Finance, Froogle, Local, Scholar, Video, Calendar, Groups, Talk, Translate
        Silly, fun, useless to them: Earth, Picasa, SketchUp,

        In the labs: Google Trends, Music Trends, Visually Impaired Search, Notebook, Mars, Page Creator, Public Transportation Maps, RSS Reader, Web Accelerator, Taxi Finder, Suggest, Froogle Mobile, Sets.

        With the possible exception of Mars, that seems pretty interconnected. Some of the silliest ideas, like Google Maps, gMail, the Google Toolbar, etc have become standard usage now. Even the silly ones, like Google Earth, were part of their push to create 3D maps of all major US cities, which would have been a valuable resource if they could have pulled it off.

        They're like the Bell Labs of the 'net. Lot of pure research, some of which is or might be stupidly profitable. But we'll all reap rewards in the end.
  • by otisg (92803) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:27AM (#16127892) Homepage Journal
    I hope it turns out as good as it blurb makes it sound. I believe Pierre Omidyar's Omidyar Network [omidyar.net] was founded with the same/similar goals in mind.
  • by timboc007 (664810) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:29AM (#16127898)

    I'm glad to see that Google is going beyond their "Don't be evil" motto to "Be good". I applaud their apparent sense of social responsibility.

    I believe that much good can be achieved by large corporations who are willing to contribute to making the world a better place - whether it be through science for science's sake (e.g. Bell labs), welfare, world aid or whatever. I will be interested to see how this translates into a "for-profit" environment... presumably their profit margin expectations will not be as high as they might otherwise be?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by anti-drew (72068)
      presumably their profit margin expectations will not be as high as they might otherwise be?

      Their profit margin expectations may well be nil. It's merely that they are *allowed* to make a profit, not that they necessarily *will*.
      • by rs79 (71822)
        "Their profit margin expectations may well be nil. It's merely that they are *allowed* to make a profit, not that they necessarily *will*."

        Uh, guys? You really don't have a fucking clue about this non-profit stuff do you? Thass ok most people don't.

        Non-profits can make huge amount of profit. They just can't pay it out as dividends. So they pay it out in legal ways.

        Non-profits are one of the biggests scams ans boondoggles of the 20th century.

        Most non-profits SHOULD be for-profits for a number of reasons beyo
  • One of Google.org's first projects is the development of a plug-in hybrid vehicle that achieves a mileage rating equivalent to 100 MPG.

    After seeing the movie 'Who Killed the Electric Car' I was so angry I swore I would never buy another car that doesn't run on electricity. Hopefully Google is going to save my ass so I don't have build it.

    I Love Google.

  • Hindu guru (Score:4, Funny)

    by Psychotria (953670) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:34AM (#16127920)
    From the article: (Brilliant)... has studied under a Hindu guru in a monastery at the foothills of the Himalayas

    Anybody who can study with a guru sitting on them has my respect
    • Anybody who can study with a guru sitting on them has my respect

      Are you kidding? Those guys never eat.

      Try it with a fried-chicken-eating Southern Baptist Minister; then you'll get my attention.

    • by dodobh (65811)
      It was in the Himalayas. Those mountains are steep, so the guru could easily be sitting above the student.
  • How does one determine what the equivelent hybrid/electric MPG is? I can think of two ways of comparing it to gasoline, but both of them are variable (cost and power), so I don't see how you could get a meaningful comparison.
    • Re:equivelent MPG (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:49AM (#16127974)
      A common system for evaluating advanced technology vehicle energy sources (hybrids, fuel cells, etc.) uses the "GREET" model developed by Argonne National Labs. This model considers the 'well-to-wheels' efficiency, which gives the most accurate picture of how a particular fuel or energy source is used. In the end, you get a measurement of miles per equivalent gallon of gasoline, or MPEGG.

      http://www.transportation.anl.gov/software/GREET/i ndex.html [anl.gov]
    • by hazem (472289)
      Not being a physicist or even an engineer, my only guess is to come up with an new measure: miles per joule

      A kilowatt-hour should have a standard number of joules in it as should a gallon of standard gasoline.

      That would compare your engergy per mile.

      Then figure out a cost per joule for each and you have a cost comparison.

      As long as you state what you're measuring and you're comparing equivalent units, it shouldn't matter much.
      • by chgros (690878)
        A kilowatt-hour should have a standard number of joules
        1 kWh = 1000 Wh = 1000 W * 3600s = 3,600,000 J = 3.6 MJ

        However for this kind of things it's useful to consider the inefficencies in distribution (e.g. does it 'cost' more to get a gallon of gasoline or the equivalent amount of electricity?)
    • Re:equivelent MPG (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mr Z (6791) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:01AM (#16128007) Homepage Journal

      So far, I've seen two main methods of computing the fuel economy of a hybrid. The silliest one is the EPA method, which simply measures emissions and plugs them into a government mandated formula. This works for most traditional cars, but for hybrids it tends to overstate the fuel economy. The other accounts for the amount of gasoline and electricity from the grid used to power the vehicle. If you never plug your vehicle into an outlet, this is equivalent to dividing travel distance by number of gallons of gasoline. If you do plug your car in at night, it gets harder to calculate, since we don't typically burn gasoline to create electricity on the grid.

      About the best you can do is compare emissions equivalence. Electric motors are zero-emissions at the point of use, but the coal plant on the edge of town will belch a little more if you're drawing from the grid. To find a useful ratio, you have to make assumptions about the particular mix of energy sources providing electricity to your home: Coal, natural gas, wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal, etc. For specific regions that's doable, but for a nationwide scale you have to work with averages.

      Given how cheap electricity is compared to many things, I suppose most people will just look at what they're paying at the pump, though.

      --Joe
      • by XanC (644172)

        Given how cheap electricity is compared to many things, I suppose most people will just look at what they're paying at the pump, though.

        We're talking about a lot of electricity.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AudioFile (1003469)
      Let's not re-invent the wheel here - the GREET model (referenced previously by me, since registered) is the standard for calculating fuel economy for advanced or mixed-fuel vehicles. The problem, which MrZ touched on, is that electricity is tricky to account for and certainly depends on region (though a 'national average' metric exists). The traditional EPA methods MrZ referenced are based on standard US drivecycles that measure the amount of fuel used, and are certainly not relevant for plug-ins or EV's.
  • MPG? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:53AM (#16127985)
    I thought DivX was the norm these days
  • by caitsith01 (606117) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:11AM (#16128042) Journal
    ...this development, along with the Bill and Melinda foundation, means we now have extremely large, extremely rich companies doing what our governments should be doing.

    If they're promoting cleaner vehicles or saving kittens it's all fine and dandy. But what about accountability? What if Google, with its billions, starts doing things that some of us strongly disagree with? Would Christian conservatives be happy if Google started a campaign to push condoms in schools and third world countries to help stop AIDS? Would progressives be happy if Google started a campaign to restore family values through aggressively marketing church youth groups?

    Let's remember that this is the same Google which is arguably supporting the tyrannical Chinese government's censorship. Fundamentally, we should be asking, what is Google's agenda? What if we disagree with it?

    I expect many people will be inclined to give me responses about it being an example of a company doing what it wants in a free market, and that it is still bound by the law. However, I say, TANSTAAFL, and I prefer my social engineering to be done by the government because in principle at least the government represents me and my interests, whatever my financial involvement.* Are we looking at a future where democracy is contingent on share ownership?

    * yeah yeah, spare me

    Google seems a bit like Apple around here at times, perhaps a little too far above reasonable criticism. A great many people seem to ignore the fact that it is a self-interested entity in a competitive market, and at the end of the day what it values is what's good for Google and not the good of all mankind. Even if you think this is great, I urge you to think about whether it's really a positive thing to have one company exerting so much influence over the information we receive (google.com), knowing so much about what we are interested in (google.com), what we talk about (gmail), where we go (google maps/earth), what we buy (Adwords, froogle), what we are creating (the emerging word processing software and related tools, Picasa), and apparently now, how we operate as a society.

    Put it this way - if Google's board turned rabid tomorrow, how much damage could it do?
    • by bishiraver (707931) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:25AM (#16128086) Homepage
      Google.org does not blowback money to google.com, the search engine company.

      The government should do a few main things:

      -make sure other people don't take my stuff, my life, or impose upon my life in a negative way.
      -protect my life and the sovereignty of my country.
      -make sure its populace is well-educated and healthy
      -deal with the people who cross the above two in a just manner.

      In doing the above in a farsighted manner, it will maintain a good quality of life through protecting our nature reserves (if we don't have nature reserves, then arguably a future generation may indeed have a lower quality of life, lack of knowledge, and a higher death rate. Education and health may well be an extrapolation of 'protect my life.'

      Of course, to do all of that a huge network of laws is written, several branches of government are created, and everything gets bogged down in beaurocracy - especially if morals are the key focus of politicians.

      Google's involvement with the chinese government is actually a far cry better than any other search engine - when pages are censored, it tells the user that there were results that were censored. In a devious way, it does more to increase the knowledge of government censorship in China better than showing everything.

      Google is doing things with google.org that a government shouldn't have to do. And you've seen what kind of bumbling the beaurocracy does when this kind of thing is involved.

      Because google's company is knowledge based, it is not beholden to the same types of shareholders as, say, an oil company. This is well shown by their work on a hybrid-electric car. And because it has shareholders, instead of throwing money at problems like poor food and water quality in developing countries, it will work to fix the causitive issues. And with the brilliant minds they have there, I have no doubt this will be extremely successful.
    • by DeadChobi (740395)
      >...this development, along with the Bill and Melinda foundation, means we now
      >have extremely large, extremely rich companies doing what our governments should
      >be doing.

      Finally, my dream of seeing a dragon run for president may be coming true! Dunkelzahn for President in 2056!
    • by catbutt (469582) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:37AM (#16128123)
      I have a hard time seeing how a corporation doing things with the intent of making a positive change is likely to cause more harm than a corporation doing things only for the purpose of enriching its shareholders.
      • I have a hard time seeing how a corporation doing things with the intent of making a positive change is likely to cause more harm than a corporation doing things only for the purpose of enriching its shareholders.

        Mr. Catbutt, somebody from The Road to Hell Paving Corporation is on the line, and would like a word with you.
    • Put it this way - if Google's board turned rabid tomorrow, how much damage could it do?

      Far less damage than if Coca-Cola's board, GM's board, Virgin's board, and the boards several other companies that have established charitable arms turned rabid. For every /.er that loves Google without considering the alternatives is a /.er that hates Google without considering whom else to hate.
    • by j-pimp (177072)
      ...this development, along with the Bill and Melinda foundation, means we now have extremely large, extremely rich companies doing what our governments should be doing.

      I'm sorry, but the government just isn't doing that good of a job. Now I will spare you my libertarian rants, but basically, we have Bush giving alot of money to Christian groups that are against condoms for them to fight against AIDs, so if google or Microsoft starts giving comdoms to poor villages, we can see if the Microsoft village or the
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2006 @03:08AM (#16128364)
      "...this development, along with the Bill and Melinda foundation, means we now have extremely large, extremely rich companies doing what our governments should be doing."

      Actually, you have it completely backwards. This is exactly what private groups should do and the government should not.

      But I believe we have a first principal mismatch. You want the government to do everything and do not trust the individual. I on the other hand don't want to the government doing anything and I trust the individual.

      It reminds me of a conversation with a friend. He was going on and on about how he wished the government would tax him more so that the government could do good and give his money to those in need. Sadly, it never crossed his mind to give to private cherity. He, like you, worships government.

      See, by having the freedom to choose which charities to give money to you can give to causes that you support. You are not forced to give to causes that the government forces you to give to under threat of imprisonment. Maybe you don't like the military, abortion, or perhaps welfare. The government doesn't give you a choice.

      Why don't people know what true liberty is?

      "Put it this way - if Google's board turned rabid tomorrow, how much damage could it do?"

      Ask that about government. Government has a military and secret police forces.
      • by bateleur (814657)
        It reminds me of a conversation with a friend. He was going on and on about how he wished the government would tax him more so that the government could do good and give his money to those in need. Sadly, it never crossed his mind to give to private cherity.

        Are you assuming this, or did you actually ask him?

        Personally I think your friend has the right idea. Yes, he as one individual could choose to use the money to give to good causes. But what about those who choose not to do so? Superficially, we can
  • by wysiwia (932559) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:38AM (#16128126) Homepage
    Can you imagine what one billion dollars would achieve if spent for FOSS? Can you imagine a world where any standard software is free of charge for any kind of computer. Can you imagine a world where even specialised software doesn't cost more a $100? Can you picture how one billion dollars could change the world if spent for FOSS?

    O. Wyss
    • by raehl (609729)
      Can you imagine what one billion dollars would achieve if spent for FOSS?

      Not much. A billion dollars SOUNDS like a lot, but it really isn't. 1 billion dollars would get you 100 million dollars to work with a year if invested well. 100 million dollars a year is enough to pay maybe 1,000 people a year. That may be enough for a handful of large-scale projects, but it's not world-changing.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2006 @02:05AM (#16128208)
      Can you imagine what one billion dollars would achieve if spent for FOSS?

      25 clones of Tetris
      24 C standard libraries
      23 stupid desktop widgets
      22 pointless window managers
      21 HTTP servers
      20 Wiki web applications
      19 useless shells
      18 password crackers
      17... Eh, you get the point: Take Freshmeat's frontpage and extrapolate, and that's at best! What you'd probably get is a bunch of people demanding 55 grand a year to work on utterly useless crap.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by LunarCrisis (966179)
        Barring the possibility of failed sarcasm. . .

        That's why they would be careful with exactly who they accept, just like they do with their Summer of Code.
        • That's why they would be careful with exactly who they accept, just like they do with their Summer of Code.

          Just imagine a billion would mean 1000 Summer of Codes in one year or 200 in five years. There's no need to limit it to studends but anybody participating in FOSS.

          Besides the current SoC has a rather low impact since it doesn't follow any vision but only strenghten already established projects.

          O. Wyss
      • by wysiwia (932559)
        Can you imagine what one billion dollars would achieve if spent for FOSS?

        25 clones of Tetris ...
        17... Eh, you get the point: Take Freshmeat's frontpage and extrapolate, and that's at best! What you'd probably get is a bunch of people demanding 55 grand a year to work on utterly useless crap.


        Sure if you just pour this billion onto everybody's head. But if the FOSS projects are carefully chosen and a clear vision is followed such crap could be easily avoided. Besides a billion is so much money it wouldn't mat
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I certainly hope that specialized software doesn't cost just $100 because then there would be no reason for people like me to develop it (since that's what my company does). I love FOSS but face it, there simply isn't a FOSS solution for everything. FOSS is great for commodity software like operating systems and office suites but not so great for specialized things. FOSS is about scratching an itch or becoming popular. Developing specialized software HAS to be about listening to the (few) "customers". As a
    • by Eivind Eklund (5161) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:05AM (#16128814) Journal
      As an OSS developer, I can say that 1 billion dollar would make fairly little difference, and might make a negative difference. People seem to believe that open source software would be tremendously helped by money. I've worked with a very large open source project (FreeBSD), and have seen how we fairly often have had problems with spending money. Anyway, before, we had the problem of vetting the people that worked on things. We tried just hiring people to do a project for us a few times, and got so-so results in many of the cases. Fortunately, we also had a lot of people that worked as consultants and did FreeBSD stuff in their spare time. So we tried paying one of those to spend more of his time on FreeBSD.

      Oops. Bad plan. We got a time disparity: He had lots of time for FreeBSD, and the volunteers didn't have time to catch up...

      We seem to have learned a bunch about how to spend money since - there's been pushed some amounts of money through the project (many scales down from a billion dollars, though) and it doesn't seem to mess thing up. However, we spent years learning how to do that, and there's still clear limits on how much money we would be able to spend positively. I suspect Google understands this. Through their Summer of Code projects they seem to be pushing about the right amount of money that open source can gracefully accept. Pushing another billion dollar into the open source economy in a sudden fashion would in my opinion most likely destroy large parts of the Open Source world.

      Eivind.

  • by DaMouse404 (812101) on Monday September 18, 2006 @02:13AM (#16128230)
    Coming again to save the motherfucking day yeah! -DaMouse
  • small hydrolic engine (1 or more), low horsepower, high efficiency with high output, to generator to small electric cache to large spinning disc moved by electromagnetics tied to drivetrain, regenerative braking. no need for many batteries, as power can be generated on demand... cache large enough for bursts. gearless spinning disc provides constant accelleration, high torque (higher than in wheel) high efficiency and stability... gyro action of discs paired with maglev shocks, or similar, should keep cha
  • Plug in hybrid? (Score:3, Informative)

    by JPriest (547211) on Monday September 18, 2006 @06:52AM (#16128777) Homepage
    I am a little dissapointed to see Google jumping on the whole plug in hybrid thing, I didn't expect them to buy into the hype too. A "100mpg" equiv plug in hybrid is actually pretty trivial to build. The problem with it is that they are costly to build, there is an _enormous_ amount of red tape (crash test ratings etc.) involved in producing a car. Lastly, nobody wants to spend > $50,000 on a $10,000 car with an electric drive train that needs to be parked for 15 hours to charge after every 200 miles of travel.
  • by xplenumx (703804) on Monday September 18, 2006 @07:24AM (#16128865)
    So how is this different from Google simply being a venture capitalist? There are already plenty of venture capital firms who specialize in specifically funding clean technology, disease research, and other 'social good'. While I welcome Google's investment, this 'for profit charity' sounds more like nothing more than a spin-doctoring PR stunt.

Every young man should have a hobby: learning how to handle money is the best one. -- Jack Hurley

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