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Google.org, a For-Profit Charity

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the for-the-greater-good dept.

355

Google has set up a subsidiary, Google.org, a for-profit philanthropy with initial capital of a billion dollars. Not being organized on a tax-free basis carries both advantages and drawbacks. From the article: "Unlike most charities, this one will be for-profit, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes." One of Google.org's first projects is the development of a plug-in hybrid vehicle that achieves a mileage rating equivalent to 100 MPG.

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Can't wait (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16127823)

Gee, I can't wait to see how Google finds a way to profit from a battered women's shelter.

Re:Can't wait (5, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127860)

I can't wait to see how Google finds a way to profit from a battered women's shelter.

Well, this IS Slashdot. News for Nerds. Things that batter.

/Me going to hell. What a downer.

Re:Can't wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128016)

What a downer.

Alexander? Is that you?

Same way they profit from everything else: (3, Funny)

mcc (14761) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127990)

Targeted advertising.

Re:Can't wait (1)

chemisus (920383) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128002)

They will sponser ads on rings of various sorts to imprint on the backhand.

SALVATION (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16127828)

Google, here to save humanity once again!

Non-registration link (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16127844)

Here's a link to the same story that doesn't require registration

http://news.com.com/Googles+unusual+approach+to+ph ilanthropy/2100-1014_3-6115533.html [com.com]

My car will get negative 100Mpg (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128165)

I'm developing a car that will get negative 100MPG to cancel this out.

Actually I'm trying to cancel out this goofy definition of MPG when there's electricity involved. Does a pure electric car get Infinity Miles per gallon?

This sort of reminds me of a prank a friend pulled in college. One guy was always entering the room to announce he had managed to drive is economy car so skillfully that got outrageous gas milage. Tiring of this, my friend started adding a gallon of gas to the braggarts tank every night so that his milage and brags got bigger and bigger. Then the next week he started siphoning out a gallon out of the tank. The brags "mysteriously" ceased without explanation.

So my car is going to use photovoltaics, and have an onboard device that inhales smog, and uses the electricity to produce gasoline. Then I'm going to drive up to gas stations, connect the hose and pump gas back into the filling station tanks. That will mess with their arithmetic! and I'll have my negative 100MPG vehicle.

Odd. (2, Insightful)

Tavor (845700) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127847)

Odd that Google would take a for-profit route, considering how many "non-profits" lobby congress. (I use that term loosely, because of certian Telco and Music NPOs.) Granted, I would LOVE to see Google.org create a better Hybrid, counter the Telcos at their own game, and hopefully devolop a Nationwide Broadband/Fiber Initiative.

Re:Odd. (1)

zobier (585066) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127887)

I would LOVE to see Google.org [snip] devolop a Nationwide Broadband/Fiber Initiative.
Somehow, I don't think improving America's Internet access is the kind of project this .org is going to be pursuing.

Re:Odd. (5, Insightful)

BacOs (33082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127912)

Odd that Google would take a for-profit route

I don't find it odd at all. I'm involved with several FLOSS projects and one of them recently researched starting its own foundation (non-profit) or corporation (for profit). Everyone I talked to (including people associated with the Mozilla Foundation and the Python and Apache Software Foundations) recommended starting a for profit corporation. The restrictions placed on federally tax exempt (501(c)(3)) organizations was too great in their opinion. With a for profit corporation, you have much fewer restrictions.

Re:Odd. (2, Interesting)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128137)

Those restrictions are there for a reason. I agree they are sometimes onerous. However, they make it so that the organization actually must do charitable things, and they make impossible to do the "screw everyone and take the money" things.

Re:Odd. (4, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128081)

The truth is that most people need is the power to help themselves, not aid. For example, if a person in LA went down to the store, bought and cooked up some hot-dogs, and then sold them on the street corner - he would likely be in jail, taxed, and fined over 40K before the night was out - and then be forced to get permits and inspections at great expense to himself. I'm sorry, no argument about government protecting people can justify that kind of behavior.

In Africa, a large amount of US aid was used to build a milk plant. But it was not near any cows or roads, and ended up shutting down. Those kinds of mistakes are much more rare in the private sector, because there is accountabillity and control. Many aid loans were blown by corrupt leaders, who then left it to the citizens to pay back.

In many countries, investors are more than happy to build factories, roads, mines, infrastructure, and the jobs that go with them. But not if government officials demand bribes, permits, taxes, and high fees at every step of the process, and not if they demand high fees on everything imported and exported, and not if the judiciary is so corrupt or slow that they have no recource if land or other items are taken from them. If you had 100 million dollars, would you put it in Venesuela or North Korea right now? People who have paid a bitter price. That's a lot of money, and then they wonder why they have employment problems.

In China, millions of people died from hunger until the farmers were able to have property rights, then the problem disapeared and the economy started to boom. Really, who would slave away on a farm where they own none of the take and none of the land. Once again, the people in China didn't need charity nor help from the government, what they needed was property rights. Charity would have prolonged the problem and made it worse. What they needed was the power to help themselves, once they got it then the poverty problems took care of themselves naturally.

Re:Odd. (2, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128138)

For comparison, I remember a while ago hearing about No Sweat Apparel [nosweatapparel.com] , another charity-like organization that tries to replace current clothing production with (supposely) that produced under non-exploitative conditions. They explain here [nosweatapparel.com] why they want to be for-profit -- access to more capital, rewards for those who risked a lot, and to promote a viable industry model.

(Of course, they do use child labor for their advertising, so take it for what it's worth...)

Re:Odd. (1)

OakLEE (91103) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128167)

considering how many "non-profits" lobby congress

Yes non-profits (specifically 501(c)(3) non-profits) lobby congress, but there are tons of restrictions on what they can and cannot lobby for or against. Any violation will result in the revocation of their tax-free status. Most of them usually get around this by registering a sister corporation (i think it's 501(c)(4), though post campain finance reform most of them might be 527's) and have that wing do all of the lobbying. They also usually take care to seperate the streams of funding for each operation. Google.org by going for-profit avoids this hassel from the lobbying perspective and can directly use their funds for any lobbying they see fit.

Wow, the evil begins (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16127849)

And the largest disadvantage to a "for-profit charity?" Your donations are NOT tax deductible.

They've slit their own throats on this one.

Re:Wow, the evil begins (5, Insightful)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127900)

"And the largest disadvantage to a "for-profit charity?" Your donations are NOT tax deductible.

They've slit their own throats on this one."

Yeah, the people behind Google, the most successful web venture in the world, didn't give any thought at all as to the consequences of making it a for profit charity.

Have you perhaps thought that they are targetting other methods of funding that don't rely as much on the tax deduction angle? How about that they are planning on making products that can make money and therefore self fund the charity?

I highly applaud them, and I think the lack of needing to be non profit could be very liberating and free them up to do many things they otherwise may have not been able to.

Very excited to watch this one!

Re:Wow, the evil begins (1)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127911)

Doh, doh, doh... that will teach me for not using the preview button... stupid italics!

Ethical investments (1)

Lars512 (957723) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128006)

Google are going to run into the same problems here that people already do when they try to go with ethical investment funds. At some level, you have to deal with the conflict between your goals of making a profit and investing ethically. At least in the case of these funds, it seems that unless you're willing to take a loss from time to time for the right cause(s), you can't claim to be investing ethically. The funds which behave less ethically will have more flexibility in where they put your money and will do better on the average.

They need to make a profit to be self-sustaining, right? There might be room for Google to do well here if there are other reasons why existing companies don't want to provide ethical products that would clearly be profitable. For a hypothetical example, if car companies and big oil together collaborated to avoid providing hybrid cars at a reasonable price for other business reasons. It seems strange that such market gaps wouldn't get filled by just any other big company though.

Re:Ethical investments (1)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128080)

The car initiative is what excites me most really. There is no good scientific/manufacturing reason that I know of that we can't be driving around in affordable hybrid/completely petrol devoid cars. It really does seem to be a reluctance based on the huge oil cartels.

So if Google, with its huge wealth, can kick start the availability of cars that are cheaper to run and far better for the environment, how can there not be a market?

I really hope they succeed... and then bring the success down under, as we need those cars here in Australia, hell, you could add some solar panels to help as we have an abundance of sun over here.

Re:Wow, the evil begins (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127902)

Somehow I suspect that Google won't be needing that many donations.

Re:Wow, the evil begins (2, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127906)

And the largest disadvantage to a "for-profit charity?" Your donations are NOT tax deductible.

You and I aren't going to be donating money, google.com is ($1 billion in seed money). Since google.org is a child company of google.com, their accountants and lawyers can futz with it to minimize any tax implications.

Re:Wow, the evil begins (1)

intangible (252848) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127933)

Is it really worth trying to itemize for most people? The tax free part doesn't really come into play for me.

Re:Wow, the evil begins (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128095)

Umm.. yes?
You must be poor.

(Not Genuine, just modern parlance) Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16127850)

So, revenue from advertisements go to google.com, which funds google.org, which is trying to save the environment.
Tomorrow's banner ads: Click here to save the Earth!!!

Well it has to suceed (1)

cheese-cube (910830) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127858)

The new director of Google.org is Larry Brilliant!

Re:Well it has to suceed (4, Funny)

zobier (585066) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127905)

The new director of Google.org is Larry Brilliant!
That's Dr. Brilliant.
I'm just waiting for Capt. Obvious to join the conversation.

Re:Well it has to suceed (1)

ID10T5 (797857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128124)

Is he one of the guys in the Guinness commercials?

Plug-in is inline with Google's existing vision (4, Interesting)

rsborg (111459) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127864)

I know that Google employees receive a $5000 discount (plus a few other perks that I'm not clear on) on any purchase of a hybrid vehicle that gets 45 mpg (ie, Prius, Insight or Civic Hybrid).

I think one or both of the founders drive a Prius as well, so this would be inline with their vision of what can be done to make the world a better place.

Re:Plug-in is inline with Google's existing vision (2, Interesting)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127958)

Actually, their founders use this [slashdot.org] , which gets 0.3 mpg.

Re:Plug-in is inline with Google's existing vision (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127978)

That's one heck of a daily driver! I wonder what their weekend cars look like?

Re:Plug-in is inline with Google's existing vision (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127962)

I know that Google employees receive a $5000 discount (plus a few other perks that I'm not clear on) on any purchase of a hybrid vehicle that gets 45 mpg (ie, Prius, Insight or Civic Hybrid).

Your statement implies that they only get the discount (really a employer subsidy) if the vehicle is a hybrid. If that's the case, it seems awfully short-sighted. Why not a conventional gasoline or diesel vehicle that also achieves at least 45mpg too? Is their goal to promote hybrids or to promote efficiency? Seems like promoting efficiency would be a better goal because it doesn't limit development to a single technology which may easily turn out to be a dead end.

Re:Plug-in is inline with Google's existing vision (4, Informative)

dago (25724) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128071)

Well, to be even more complete, one could also say that traditionnal car manufacturers already have diesel cars that go under 4 l/100km (over 58 mpg). Volkwagen already sold cars that could go down to 3 l/100km (or over 78 mpg).

Ok, that's not in the US, and you still need particle filters, but still, I also think that limiting the options is a bad idea.

Re:Plug-in is inline with Google's existing vision (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128106)

Do they subsidise the replacement lithium ion battery as well? There are going to be a lot of Priuses going cheap in a few years because of the cost of replacing the battery.

interesting (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16127868)

I submitted this story (same exact NY time article even) 3 days ago, when it was news.

Anyhow, the term "non-profit" evokes a warm fuzzy feeling that it shouldn't. John D Rockefeller did more to save the whales (via kerosene) than GreenPeace ever will.

Re:interesting (0, Flamebait)

n8Mills (1000286) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128001)

Sour grapes. It sucks to be on the forefront without being provacitive enough to get noticed. Maybe you can spout headlines while lighting yourself on fire? Maybe you can read a crystal ball while getting dangerously close to contracting aids... maybe you can... blah blah blahgargharg

Hybrid Vehicles? (5, Funny)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127877)

First we'll have the gCar, and it will cost far more than it's actually worth, but investors will cough up the money anyway. Apple will follow suit with their iCar, which will be made out of translucent white plastic, but will only run certain fuels. After making a suitable amount of money selling their iCar, they will begin to market successively smaller iCars, and charge more to get them in black.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Redmond, Steve Ballmer will be plotting to 'fucking kill' them both. Unfortunately by this stage he'll have put his back out throwing chairs, so he'll instead switch to 'fucking kill'ing them with a motorised chair with wheels, which Microsoft will market it as the Zume.

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127896)

A motorized chair? As opposed to motorized wheels? I'd pay to see that thing!

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (5, Funny)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127921)

It's his greatest invention: a chair that throws itself

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127982)

But to make it successful, he'll need developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, ....

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127908)

SONY will have their line of cars as well, but with DRM'd hydrogen fuel supply sticks. If you try to use an unauthorized fuel source, the vehicle spontaneously explodes, but not until it quietly passes root emissions out of its tailpipe to nearby vehicles.

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (1)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127964)

Apple car only run certain fuels? What's that supposed to mean? Apple is generally quite open about allowing people to run whatever they want on the Hardware they sell (their computers anyway, not their Consumer Electronics) Back in the power days, you could run MacOS or any of a number of variants of POWER Unix (Linux, BSD, etc) now you have the option of running OS X, BSD, Linux, or even Windows. The hardware isn't exactly closed in terms of what it can run.

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (3, Insightful)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128011)

Ever tried to listen to Ogg Vorbis on your iPod?

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (1)

schotter (17230) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128101)

There's always iPodLinux [ipodlinux.org] ...

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128033)

Apple is generally quite open about allowing people to run whatever they want on the Hardware they sell

Oh, yeah? Well, try running Plan 9 OS on an Apple ///!

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (1)

Griim (8798) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127965)

Damn...I didn't realize until I read your comment, but the long-running joke about "driving your Google to the Google to pick up the latest Google" is in its first steps to becoming an actual reality!

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127989)

he'll instead switch to 'fucking kill'ing them with a motorised chair with wheels, which Microsoft will market it as the Zume.

Sadly, Steve's Zume runs on XP Embedded, so it's wheels spontaneously reverse when the OS decides to pull into a nearby pay-phone to call home and reassure Bill that it is truly "genuine".

The chair flips, throwing Steve to the ground where he lays on his back, dazed. Staring straight up, he mutters to himself "I've seen that screen before, but where's the fucking KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED message gone?"

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (1)

NinjaFarmer (833539) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128043)

Steve's Zume will run on Vista Embedded, and thus require most of the power plant (i.e. engine) to power the 32 8 core processors distributed throughout the car and their related cooling systems.

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128117)

Zume??? Or should that be Fume?

Re:Hybrid Vehicles? (1)

unFKNreal (217693) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128203)

Microsoft of course will then build their own version, stealing the innovations made in the others. After years of hype, concepts & testing, the cars finally hit the market to mixed reviews. The company will bitch about disappointing sales figures, as everyone would rather steal one than pay actual money. The thieves however are all caught due to the cars constant breaking down & crashing, making them useless when trying to evade police.

Innovating (4, Interesting)

kbsoftware (1000159) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127878)

I don't always agree with Google tactics but at least they are innovative. Certainly changing the internet, computers and now looks like cars and beyond. Microsoft which doesn't innovate just buys or steals will have a hard time competing with such a company. Since I don't see Google being any more evil then Microsoft, I have to cheer to Google since like I said at least they are innovating :) Yeah ok I did a crappy job of explaining the message I'm trying to get through.

Re:Innovating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16127938)

Give Google a few years before we assume that they will make significant changes to cars. As far as Microsoft just buying or stealing innovation? Of course a lot of the things they have built upon previous innovations, they have come up with some great ideas. Who doesn't build upon previous ideas anyways?

google only has to bless.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128087)

..that's it. There are any number of smaller shops out there producing simply outstanding alternatively powered vehicles. Pure electrics, plug in hybrids, conventionals with incredible mileage and impressive style..you just aren't seeing any of them from the moribund dinosaurs in the automotive world now. they are just too big, too resistant to leapfrog tech advances, too tied to NIMBY when it comes to new and emerging engineering tech, too tied to doing things the way they always have, and not wishing to kill off the only way they know how to make money. Small shops have no such inhibitions, in fact, most good tech advances are still coming from smaller shops, as are most new jobs. The global dinosaurs are staggering now, look at all the plant closings and layoffs, while they keep throwing billions at insane last century tech and practices. Example, GM doing buyouts of employees and closing plants and getting "junk" status on wallstreet, yet throwing 15 billion at re buying propietary software. Not million, *billion*.

Google can avoid all that nonsense and go back to engineering roots, guys with a dream who actually build cool stuff, not high rise buildings full of "management" who schedule meetings with each other to decide to push THE SAME CRAP they did 25 years ago, now with even more expensive bling! OOOhh, they are going to reintroduce the camaro! That's how GM thinks at the top, past glory. Look at ford, wow, a box with a big engine! Let's go ultra rad and put a diesel in it! They had to buy their hybrid tech, couldn't even come up with it on their own. Pitiful, just pitiful.
I not only wish goog well on this, but I know they can do good..ten minutes ..uhh...googling can find you any number of cool vehicles that blow away the domestic mass consumer rolling pieces of mediocrity with boom boxes installed and ACs that blow really good hot air after about a year or less. Finding innovation in the vehicle industry will be *easy* for them.

Re:google only has to bless.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128135)

Finding innovation in the vehicle industry will be *easy* for them.

Finding the innovation will be easy.. it is already out there as you mentioned. Bringing it so that it is available to the masses will be very difficult with the amount of influence the huge automobile and oil companies have on the market. We can only hope that someone out there such as Google will be able to get vehicles into the market that aren't so reliant on the oil industry.

Re:Innovating (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127997)

I don't always agree with Google tactics but at least they are innovative. Certainly changing the internet, computers and now looks like cars and beyond.

On the other hand, one could easily make the criticism that Google has lost focus and are all over the map, doing a lot of things and most them not anywhere near as well as they do web-searching. Perhaps this is a downside of having too much cash - they just don't have enough good ideas and talented people to make efficient use of all that money.

Re:Innovating (1)

hondamankev (1000186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128063)

I guess this means that if we buy a google car, we get free gas as long as we take a route that passes by advertisers stores?

Buying != Bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128121)

I don't always agree with Google tactics but at least they are innovative. Certainly changing the internet, computers and now looks like cars and beyond. Microsoft which doesn't innovate just buys or steals will have a hard time competing with such a company.
Google have bought and rebranded a number of their other offerings. Picassa, Blogger, SketchUp, etc. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with it, and it clearly doesn't preclude innovation in other areas.

Yeah ok I did a crappy job of explaining the message I'm trying to get through.

Nevermind, you got modded up anyway ;)

Re:Innovating (1)

squisher (212661) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128176)

While I agree that Microsoft definately is not an inovator, and that they're pretty much evil, you are putting things wrong nonetheless:
First of all I don't see how the charity work of the company / company's founders has any impact on the company's operations, and secondly the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is the biggest one in the world - and they spend their money i.e. on aids related projects.
While there has been criticism that they are in fact getting too big / dominating the foundations, I'm sure they have good intentions with their work :-)

Like Omidyar Network? (4, Informative)

otisg (92803) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127892)

I hope it turns out as good as it blurb makes it sound. I believe Pierre Omidyar's Omidyar Network [omidyar.net] was founded with the same/similar goals in mind.

Re:Like Omidyar Network? (1)

ClassMyAss (976281) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128204)

With a name like "Omidyar Network," color me unsurprised that I've never heard of it before...

Google has name recognition and a good reputation. I foresee lots of support for this endeavor, and if they put as much effort into it as their words suggest they intend to, I think this will be a good thing for the world at large.

Beyond "don't be evil" (5, Interesting)

timboc007 (664810) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127898)

I'm glad to see that Google is going beyond their "Don't be evil" motto to "Be good". I applaud their apparent sense of social responsibility.

I believe that much good can be achieved by large corporations who are willing to contribute to making the world a better place - whether it be through science for science's sake (e.g. Bell labs), welfare, world aid or whatever. I will be interested to see how this translates into a "for-profit" environment... presumably their profit margin expectations will not be as high as they might otherwise be?

Re:Beyond "don't be evil" (2, Insightful)

anti-drew (72068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128055)

presumably their profit margin expectations will not be as high as they might otherwise be?

Their profit margin expectations may well be nil. It's merely that they are *allowed* to make a profit, not that they necessarily *will*.

Plug-in means 100% electric if u don't drive much (2, Interesting)

A*OnYourA** (946354) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127903)

One of Google.org's first projects is the development of a plug-in hybrid vehicle that achieves a mileage rating equivalent to 100 MPG.

After seeing the movie 'Who Killed the Electric Car' I was so angry I swore I would never buy another car that doesn't run on electricity. Hopefully Google is going to save my ass so I don't have build it.

I Love Google.

Hindu guru (4, Funny)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127920)

From the article: (Brilliant)... has studied under a Hindu guru in a monastery at the foothills of the Himalayas

Anybody who can study with a guru sitting on them has my respect

Re:Hindu guru (1)

sd_diamond (839492) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128013)

Anybody who can study with a guru sitting on them has my respect

Are you kidding? Those guys never eat.

Try it with a fried-chicken-eating Southern Baptist Minister; then you'll get my attention.

A plug-in hybrid (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127922)

Finally, a plug-in that works in every browser!

Re:A plug-in hybrid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128017)

Finally a plugin that works with every bowser? :)

equivelent MPG (1)

taybin (622573) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127927)

How does one determine what the equivelent hybrid/electric MPG is? I can think of two ways of comparing it to gasoline, but both of them are variable (cost and power), so I don't see how you could get a meaningful comparison.

Re:equivelent MPG (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16127974)

A common system for evaluating advanced technology vehicle energy sources (hybrids, fuel cells, etc.) uses the "GREET" model developed by Argonne National Labs. This model considers the 'well-to-wheels' efficiency, which gives the most accurate picture of how a particular fuel or energy source is used. In the end, you get a measurement of miles per equivalent gallon of gasoline, or MPEGG.

http://www.transportation.anl.gov/software/GREET/i ndex.html [anl.gov]

Re:equivelent MPG (1)

hazem (472289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127975)

Not being a physicist or even an engineer, my only guess is to come up with an new measure: miles per joule

A kilowatt-hour should have a standard number of joules in it as should a gallon of standard gasoline.

That would compare your engergy per mile.

Then figure out a cost per joule for each and you have a cost comparison.

As long as you state what you're measuring and you're comparing equivalent units, it shouldn't matter much.

Re:equivelent MPG (1)

tuxicle (996538) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128009)

That would be kilometers per joule. You guys would have miles per erg or something stranger.

Re:equivelent MPG (1)

chgros (690878) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128141)

A kilowatt-hour should have a standard number of joules
1 kWh = 1000 Wh = 1000 W * 3600s = 3,600,000 J = 3.6 MJ

However for this kind of things it's useful to consider the inefficencies in distribution (e.g. does it 'cost' more to get a gallon of gasoline or the equivalent amount of electricity?)

Joule-equivalent (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127983)

I think there's a standard "equivalent energy" formula that says 1 gallon of standard unleaded gasoline at a given temperature = xxx Joules of energy.

And of course one watt-second of electricity is 1 Joule.

Not much room to fudge those numbers.

As for cost, yes, that is variable. Then again, the "equivalent" of a gallon of gasoline last month at 95 degrees F and $3.00/gallon is not 1 gallon this month at 80 degrees F at $2.50/gallon. Cooler gasoline has more energy per gallon and cheaper gas is ligher on the wallet.

Re:equivelent MPG (1)

knifey (976510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16127988)

Well, off the top of my head, for a Hybrid car you'd measure how much pertolium it uses to go a certain distance.
I suspect you meant for Purely electric cars. For them you need to assign either a CO2 or equivalent cost to mains power, and rate that against petroleum. Then compare the energy use.
Generally both Hybrid and Electric cars do much better on economy due to the joys of regenerative braking and a few other "neat tricks".

Re:equivelent MPG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128003)

hybrids burn actual gasoline. so the measurement is...how many miles a hybrid can get out of a gallon of gasoline.

Re:equivelent MPG (3, Insightful)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128007)

So far, I've seen two main methods of computing the fuel economy of a hybrid. The silliest one is the EPA method, which simply measures emissions and plugs them into a government mandated formula. This works for most traditional cars, but for hybrids it tends to overstate the fuel economy. The other accounts for the amount of gasoline and electricity from the grid used to power the vehicle. If you never plug your vehicle into an outlet, this is equivalent to dividing travel distance by number of gallons of gasoline. If you do plug your car in at night, it gets harder to calculate, since we don't typically burn gasoline to create electricity on the grid.

About the best you can do is compare emissions equivalence. Electric motors are zero-emissions at the point of use, but the coal plant on the edge of town will belch a little more if you're drawing from the grid. To find a useful ratio, you have to make assumptions about the particular mix of energy sources providing electricity to your home: Coal, natural gas, wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal, etc. For specific regions that's doable, but for a nationwide scale you have to work with averages.

Given how cheap electricity is compared to many things, I suppose most people will just look at what they're paying at the pump, though.

--Joe

Doubt it (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128098)

Given how cheap electricity is compared to many things, I suppose most people will just look at what they're paying at the pump, though.

We're talking about a lot of electricity.

Re:equivelent MPG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128163)

The EPA method doesn't sound so silly if the electricity the hybrids are using are that which are generated by the hybrids themselves and not from the grid. (Eg. electricity generated by pressing the break pedal, generating electricity from gasoline, etc.)

Re:equivelent MPG (2, Informative)

AudioFile (1003469) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128192)

Let's not re-invent the wheel here - the GREET model (referenced previously by me, since registered) is the standard for calculating fuel economy for advanced or mixed-fuel vehicles. The problem, which MrZ touched on, is that electricity is tricky to account for and certainly depends on region (though a 'national average' metric exists). The traditional EPA methods MrZ referenced are based on standard US drivecycles that measure the amount of fuel used, and are certainly not relevant for plug-ins or EV's. CARB has been working on this issue, not sure what their current progress is.

In the case of plug-ins, electricity from the grid is the energy *carrier* and not the source. Comparing different carriers (electricity, hydrogen, etc) and different sources (coal, renewable, etc) requires the use of a fuel cycle model, and the GREET model is the popular one right now. Straight conversions on basis of chemical energy or stored on-vehicle electrical capacity don't do the issue justice. If we want to be responsible about our oil dependence and chose fuel efficient vehicles, the 'absolute' model (GREET) should be considered. And it yields some interesting results - primarily that plug-ins are a great solution in the absence of a functioning hydrogen infrastructure.

(To preempt responses from the hydrogen aware, hydrogen is considered a *carrier* and not source by many because, while it does occur naturally, the vast majority of commercial hydrogen currently comes from electrolysis or as byproduct from chemical reactions (refineries, industrial, etc.); we don't mine for it directly. In any case, a fuel cycle model is the best attempt to normalize these different energy pathways for plug-ins.)

For a quick primer on PI-HEVs and the fuel economy issue, take a look at this presentation [epri.com] (slide 9, 10) by Mark Duvall at EPRI which nails the issue on the head. If conflicts between what I said and what this presentation says exist, trust the presentation.

-Bill

MPG? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16127985)

I thought DivX was the norm these days

Before the Google love-in gets out of hand (4, Interesting)

caitsith01 (606117) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128042)

...this development, along with the Bill and Melinda foundation, means we now have extremely large, extremely rich companies doing what our governments should be doing.

If they're promoting cleaner vehicles or saving kittens it's all fine and dandy. But what about accountability? What if Google, with its billions, starts doing things that some of us strongly disagree with? Would Christian conservatives be happy if Google started a campaign to push condoms in schools and third world countries to help stop AIDS? Would progressives be happy if Google started a campaign to restore family values through aggressively marketing church youth groups?

Let's remember that this is the same Google which is arguably supporting the tyrannical Chinese government's censorship. Fundamentally, we should be asking, what is Google's agenda? What if we disagree with it?

I expect many people will be inclined to give me responses about it being an example of a company doing what it wants in a free market, and that it is still bound by the law. However, I say, TANSTAAFL, and I prefer my social engineering to be done by the government because in principle at least the government represents me and my interests, whatever my financial involvement.* Are we looking at a future where democracy is contingent on share ownership?

* yeah yeah, spare me

Google seems a bit like Apple around here at times, perhaps a little too far above reasonable criticism. A great many people seem to ignore the fact that it is a self-interested entity in a competitive market, and at the end of the day what it values is what's good for Google and not the good of all mankind. Even if you think this is great, I urge you to think about whether it's really a positive thing to have one company exerting so much influence over the information we receive (google.com), knowing so much about what we are interested in (google.com), what we talk about (gmail), where we go (google maps/earth), what we buy (Adwords, froogle), what we are creating (the emerging word processing software and related tools, Picasa), and apparently now, how we operate as a society.

Put it this way - if Google's board turned rabid tomorrow, how much damage could it do?

Re:Before the Google love-in gets out of hand (5, Insightful)

bishiraver (707931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128086)

Google.org does not blowback money to google.com, the search engine company.

The government should do a few main things:

-make sure other people don't take my stuff, my life, or impose upon my life in a negative way.
-protect my life and the sovereignty of my country.
-make sure its populace is well-educated and healthy
-deal with the people who cross the above two in a just manner.

In doing the above in a farsighted manner, it will maintain a good quality of life through protecting our nature reserves (if we don't have nature reserves, then arguably a future generation may indeed have a lower quality of life, lack of knowledge, and a higher death rate. Education and health may well be an extrapolation of 'protect my life.'

Of course, to do all of that a huge network of laws is written, several branches of government are created, and everything gets bogged down in beaurocracy - especially if morals are the key focus of politicians.

Google's involvement with the chinese government is actually a far cry better than any other search engine - when pages are censored, it tells the user that there were results that were censored. In a devious way, it does more to increase the knowledge of government censorship in China better than showing everything.

Google is doing things with google.org that a government shouldn't have to do. And you've seen what kind of bumbling the beaurocracy does when this kind of thing is involved.

Because google's company is knowledge based, it is not beholden to the same types of shareholders as, say, an oil company. This is well shown by their work on a hybrid-electric car. And because it has shareholders, instead of throwing money at problems like poor food and water quality in developing countries, it will work to fix the causitive issues. And with the brilliant minds they have there, I have no doubt this will be extremely successful.

Re:Before the Google love-in gets out of hand (1)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128108)

>...this development, along with the Bill and Melinda foundation, means we now
>have extremely large, extremely rich companies doing what our governments should
>be doing.

Finally, my dream of seeing a dragon run for president may be coming true! Dunkelzahn for President in 2056!

Re:Before the Google love-in gets out of hand (1)

SnappyCrunch (583594) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128112)

What you're describing is a situation that is functionally no different from a representative government, only you're voting with money instead of ballots.

Re:Before the Google love-in gets out of hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128187)

In other words, functionally no different from representative government. ;)

Re:Before the Google love-in gets out of hand (4, Insightful)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128123)

I have a hard time seeing how a corporation doing things with the intent of making a positive change is likely to cause more harm than a corporation doing things only for the purpose of enriching its shareholders.

Re:Before the Google love-in gets out of hand (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128133)

Put it this way - if Google's board turned rabid tomorrow, how much damage could it do?

Far less damage than if Coca-Cola's board, GM's board, Virgin's board, and the boards several other companies that have established charitable arms turned rabid. For every /.er that loves Google without considering the alternatives is a /.er that hates Google without considering whom else to hate.

As long as we're playing the what-if game... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128151)

What if giant space monsters come and eat us? You have no idea how much power we're giving them by not believing in them and not creating giant space weapons to combat their eventual arrival.

But then what if someone on earth uses those giant space weapons to take over the earth? We should preemptively kill everyone so that can't happen. It's better than being eaten by space aliens, don't you think?

fuCk!? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128044)

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Isnt "for profit charity" an oxymoron? (0, Troll)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128053)

As I understand it charity means you are donating something or partaking in some action motivated exclusively out of kindness. It sounds like their primary motivation here is to make a profit. If its a charity then they would effectively just be giving away shareholder money. This sounds more like socially conscious investing than charity to me. Or at least I hope it is, if they are giving away the shareholders money and claiming its 'for profit' as a cover that wouldnt bode well for their future.

Re:Isnt "for profit charity" an oxymoron? (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128094)

Sounds like Google pretending to be a for-profit charity when it really should be an investment bank. As soon as people's heads stop exploding over the concept of a for-profit charity, I'm sure the financial paperwork will be picked over most throughly.

Re:Isnt "for profit charity" an oxymoron? (1)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128170)

It is more than an oxymoron - it is a complete contradiction. Heads exploding? People should be standing up and clearly stating that this is hype and PR to make google look good as they collect all the really valuble information that we don't really want to give them, but we do because tghey have such nice free online toys.

Google already has significant backlash, this is thinly veiled move to stem the inevitable tide of public opinion against them as they continue to grow and control the world's information.

Re:Isnt "for profit charity" an oxymoron? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128193)

word.

or in other words, WAKE THE FUCK UP you starry eyed nerds. Google is not your buddy.

Call me a cynic... (0, Flamebait)

CousinLarry (640750) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128084)

but, uh, am I stupid for thinking that if google.org is "for profit" then its not a philanthropy, but rather its a business?

And moreover -- it sounds like a business where they can try out pie-in-the-sky, shot-in-the-dark notions without getting the scrutiny that such projects would have if they were housed under the main umbrella of the company. Investors' biggest critism of the company is that the projects (and the founders) are too scattered and unfocused, seems to me like this is a baloney way for them to keep throwing sh*t at the wall to see what sticks.

Re:Call me a cynic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128182)

"but, uh, am I stupid for thinking that if google.org is "for profit" then its not a philanthropy, but rather its a business? "

Since you chose to phrase it that way... it could be argued that the answer is yes.

They don't want to be a "not for profit" because they're referring to legal categories of charities. Non-profit involves a lot of restrictions on your activities in exchange for being exempted from taxes. Google is trading off the tax exemption in order to retain more freedom.

ORWELLIAN DOUBLESPEAK (0, Flamebait)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128122)

This is NOT a charity and it is NOT philanthropic. This is a for-profit entity, no matter what they say or how they try and spin it. I have founded and run non-profit entities, and guess what - it is hard, even when you have money. Oversight, restrictions, tax headaches, reporting, etc. You have to actually do things that really help the public and not the owners. When you are a for profit you can do whatever you want. Anyone with half a head on their shoulders should be jumping up and argument-slapping the next person who takes the line that this is a charity. This is a PR stunt on steroids if I ever saw it.

Oh yeah, remember that the public chares of Google have restricted voting rights. If even if you are a shareholder, tough shit. see http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1960985,00.as p [eweek.com]

This story completely insane: I guess when you control all the world's information you can simply state two completely contradictory things and the whole world just laps it up like children.

One billion dollars for FOSS (2, Insightful)

wysiwia (932559) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128126)

Can you imagine what one billion dollars would achieve if spent for FOSS? Can you imagine a world where any standard software is free of charge for any kind of computer. Can you imagine a world where even specialised software doesn't cost more a $100? Can you picture how one billion dollars could change the world if spent for FOSS?

O. Wyss

Re:One billion dollars for FOSS (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128198)

Can you imagine what one billion dollars would achieve if spent for FOSS?

Not much. A billion dollars SOUNDS like a lot, but it really isn't. 1 billion dollars would get you 100 million dollars to work with a year if invested well. 100 million dollars a year is enough to pay maybe 1,000 people a year. That may be enough for a handful of large-scale projects, but it's not world-changing.

Google.org huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16128131)

I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords.

Oh wait..

Doublespeak (-1, Troll)

drDugan (219551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16128207)

I guess when you control all the world's information you can simply state two completely contradictory things and the whole world just laps it up like children. For-profit subsidiary. PR stunt. Move Along, nothing to see here.
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