Here’s what Google fears: If its cloud-computing system crashes, or inadvertently lets companies view their rivals’ confidential documents all over the world, the entire system of cloud-based business-information processing collapses. Companies’ most precious secrets are leaked, as are government files; suddenly, your tax history is available for anyone to read. The world’s governments and businesses panic and come fleeing back to software that is embedded in individual computers, but not before incalculable damage is done to the modern economy and the privacy rights of ordinary citizens.
Lately, the latter scenario’s been getting a little more likely. Last year, Gmail crashed three times, and Google Docs, the service that migrates word-processing and spreadsheet documents onto the cloud, crashed in July. In February, the company’s gmail froze for several hours, right in the middle of the business day in Europe. Earlier this month, a small percentage of word-processing documents were made available to people who shouldn’t have access to them. If people can’t guarantee that their private documents will stay private, they may never join the cloud utopia.
“Too Big To Fail” anyone? When it comes to something like gaming I can envisage consoles disappearing. You might get angry if your cable service goes down, but it isn’t “mission critical.” If Google Docs becomes ubiquitous in the office it seems like it is very amenable to the Black Swan criticism.