Is Google in the Ocean Good or Bad?

    September 15, 2008
    Chris Crum

Google’s foray into the sea, which we discussed last week, is getting even more attention now courtesy of sites like Drudge Report and Digg.

If you’re not familiar with what Google’s doing, they filed a patent for: "A system, comprising: a computer data center proximate to a body of water comprising a plurality of computing units; a sea-based electrical generator in electrical connection with the plurality of computing units; and one or more sea-water cooling units for providing cooling to the plurality of computing units."

That is the first claim of Google’s patent filing. For nineteen more claims of the technical nature, just read the filing here. Thoughts on Google’s plan are all over the place in terms of positive and negative. This goes for both environmental issues as well as Google patenting the technology.

"Google should be given credit for leading a charge not only for this new type of technology but also for supporting geothermal energy and electric vehicles," says’s Ron Schenone.

On the other hand, a person commenting at WebProNews says: "Yes, they’ll cool their computers with sea water… warming the sea water, which will then be pushed back out into the ocean at large to ruin some little known animal’s habitat which will in turn throw off the whole ecosystem and cause algae blooms that will in turn kill off larger groups of animals…  Not that I’m against progress.  I just hope they think of themselves as guests in the environment they’re entering."

Then there is the question of the patent itself. "This is not an original idea, they are just powering their data centre using electricity derived from wave power," as Shaan commenting on WebProNews puts it. "But prototypes for wave power were in existence for a long time. Just utilizing electricity derived from wave power cannot be patented."

Though Alan8 responds, "While wave power was previously patented, the combination of wave power and something else (even something else also previously patented) is a new invention, and is therefore patentable."

Under the Sea!

With Google going out to sea, I wonder how long it will be before their cameras make their way out there too. A "street view" mapping the entire underwater world, would certainly be something to see.