Question for Discussion

So I was over at Steven’s place as usual, and saw a link to an interesting app/device that Google’s working on to (in effect) combine eyeglassess and their search engine.

So, my question is this… Has Google become the Bell Laboratories of the 21st century? Yes or No? Discuss.

To open, I’ll take the “No” side, on the basis that Google is engaging in engineering, that is, creating software/hardware solutions by pushing the envelope of existing technology, whereas Bell Labs also engaged in pure research — which is how we got the transistor.. But after a certain point (possibly when you’re no longer applying known solutions to known problems, and are creating fundamentally new solutions to problems that were never previously known to exist) engineering itself could be said to cross the line into research. At the level that they’re having to function to achieve their goals, has that happened? Am I just engaging in hair-splitting semantics?

Discuss in the comments. (Remember, you must be registered, no anon commenting. First comments held for moderation.)

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4 Responses to Question for Discussion

  1. jgreely says:

    Well, when you hire people like Rob Pike, someone had that goal. I know that in the early years they certainly used that ideal to attract talent, but people joining after that seem to have found just a job, without that same opportunity for doing creative cool stuff.


  2. Brickmuppet says:

    I’m going to go with “no”.
    Everyone does applied sciences, GW Carver pioneered the modern model in the 19th century. Bell Labs did a huge amount of completely random research, hoping that it would produce something that could BE developed. This sort of thinking seriously advanced the state of the art but has fallen out of favor in most business circles as it adds to uncertainty and destabilizes the status quo. Even Lucent (Formally Bell Labs) got out of basically everything but applied research with short term marketability in ’08.

    With one glaring exception (they discovered and buried magnetic data memory in the late ’20s, setting computer development back 30 years or more) , Bell Labs was an awesome instrument of innovation. With a few bit checks like greater transparancy and multiple such establishments, Bell Labs ought to be the model for the future, but it’s unlikely to be so as great innovations are harder to regulate.

  3. AvatarADV says:

    Google’s not in these markets to rule those markets. They’re just in there to act as a spoiler – to make sure nobody else can go Microsoft on them, build up a monopoly and then go after Google’s markets with the money they generate there. Dutch defense – citadel surrounded by flooded areas…

  4. Dr.Heinous says:

    Though they might qualify as ‘the closest thing today’.

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