Nor was there even a nod that the Street View mapping project — the crucial precursor to the self-driving car effort — employed a rogue engineer who casually downloaded data from people’s computers as the Google cars drove past. His actions set off worldwide outrage, but Google went from denying it had done anything, to minimizing it, to calling it ancient history without ever quite coming clean.
Mr. Levandowski was in the news more recently when a group of protesters showed up one morning in front of his East Bay house, which he had shown off in the article. The protesters called themselves the Counterforce, after the last section of Thomas Pynchon’s epic “Gravity’s Rainbow.” The name was perfectly chosen: The Counterforce is an alliance of misfits against the depredations of technology.
Siva Vaidhyanathan’s 2011 book “The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)” was a prescient look at issues of control and agenda-setting in the tech industry that are now coming to the fore. The Counterforce demonstration, and the protests against the shuttles used by Google and other tech companies to ferry their employees from San Francisco to their Silicon Valley campuses, are, he says, warnings for Google: