Chief Science Correspondent
From its control over the web content we view to more daring projects such as smart glasses and self-driving cars, Google has somehow managed to become one of the most powerful companies in the world.
But could Google take over science?
Yesterday, Wired.com reported that it had received a secret document revealing that Google is planning to merge Google Scholar, Google Docs, Google Plus and YouTube to create its own open access publishing system for scientists (It should be noted that Wired did not release this document to the public). The new project would be called, predictably enough, "Google Science."
"It is easy to imagine a drastically accelerated scientific progress if we were to fundamentally improve the way science is done on every level," reads the presentation, according to Wired. "By fertilising all fields of science we would pave the way for a myriad of great ideas and new inventions (one would not get otherwise or too late)."
Supposedly, scientists would be able to opt to publish through Google, rather than through a traditional journal such as Nature or Science. Google said the peer-review and publishing systems would be redesigned for greater efficiency.
And Wired points out that while most scientists don't care much about open access (the ability for regular users to view articles for free), they do care about peer review. The current system is said by many to be extremely inefficient and often frustrating, both for the authors and the anonymous reviewers.
Google Science is probably just a hoax. One of Google software engineers said to Science, "Um... no. That's a prank." Yet Wired is still speculating.
While the idea of Google taking over science is a bit ridiculous, it is clear that something must change. Science should be more open to the public. If ordinary people had access to more peer-reviewed studies, maybe our culture would have a better chance of understanding science in the news. It is impossible to appreciate (or refute) a peer-reviewed study if you haven't actually read it.
Maybe a massive restructuring of our science publishing system is just what we need. It will certainly be a daunting task, but perhaps this massive company might one day be up for the challenge.