It’s always smart to expect the unexpected with Google, but a new report from Seth Weintraub at 9to5Google is the most unexpected Google I/O rumor we’ve ever heard. One of Weintraub’s sources, who apparently tipped him off to Google’s Glass skydiving stunt two years ago, says that there’s a chance that Google will take the wraps off of “some cutting-edge micro bots that can detect things like certain kinds of cancer” at I/O this year, although the source cautions that these nanobots are at least two years away from being ready to launch onto the market.
Why doesn’t it surprise us that Google would be working on nanotechnology? For a couple of reasons. First, Google has shown an enthusiasm for tackling “moonshot” projects that seem to come right out of science fiction novels and has in the past contemplated working on a space elevator and on teleportation. Second, Google right now employs visionary futurist Ray Kurzweil, who has written extensively about nanobots in the past.
In an interview with Maclean’s last year, for instance, Kurzweil detailed his plan to cheat death and live forever with the help of “little robots, sometimes called nanobots, that augment your immune system” and can “be reprogrammed to deal with new pathogens.” Kurzweil has also predicted in the past that by the late 2020s, we’ll be able to eat as much junk food as we want because we’ll all have nanobots injected into our bodies that will provide us with all the proper nutrients we need while also eliminating all the excess fat we’ll gain.
Going back to Weintraub’s report, he still thinks it’s a long shot that Google will actually reveal this kind of nanotechnology at I/O on Wednesday. And even if Google did unveil it, there’s a good bet that it could generate a fierce public backlash — after all, if many people have already shown that they aren’t comfortable with Google’s Glass headset, how will they feel about the idea of microscopic robots flowing through their bloodstreams?