Google’s Acquisition of Kaggle: Should We worry About the Monopolization of Knowledge?

Kaggle may not be a household name in the same way that Google is – unless you’re into data science and machine learning, you’ve probably never heard of it – but its recent acquisition by Google could have an impact on all of us.  Through this transaction, Google will own the largest and most active community for data scientists, and with it, an increased mindshare in this community specifically, but also in the world generally. When a company becomes the sole producer of a product, either because there was never any competition, or because it has gobbled up all the competition, we call that a monopoly. This concentrates too much power in one hand. In this case, the commonwealth of knowledge, already dominated by Google, becomes even more, its exclusive preserve.

But perhaps I’m being too negative. The acquisition could be advantageous in some way. For one, with the monopolization of the commonwealth of knowledge, people would be able to get all their services in one place. But would having all the bright minds in one place be a conducive environment for competition and innovation?

On the other hand, Google’s desire to not have any competitors in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) market could mean it will invest so much more in research and development, ensuring that it remains dominant in the market. But what about the people’s desire – some would go so far as to say people’s right – to choose a product from a variety of options? Of course, Google can and most likely offer a variety of products and services to choose from, but is that really choice? That’s more like Henry Ford’s famous quip “You can choose any colour as long as its black.” An array of services and products from Google is still a monopoly. Considering the increasingly bigger role that data science, AI and machine learning are playing in our lives today, that’s too much power concentrated in one hand. We need more competition, not less.