Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Google Shot the Street View, But Did it Kill this Donkey in Botswana?

Technology can work miracles, and earn billions, for you, as Google has found out. The Mountain View-based multinational corporation found out that even your own tech can turn against you and land you in hot waters.

No, the Googleplex hasn’t suddenly become self-aware and decided to turn against its creators; it’s something a bit more bizarre involving Google Maps, Botswana and a donkey lying in the middle of the street.

Allow us explain: on Tuesday, Twitter used @TheRealSheldonC (apparently a Big Bang Theory fan) tweeted an image of a donkey lying on a road in Botswana and looking pretty much dead or injured.

The Google Street View map pic shows tire marks and a puff of smoke rising up from the spot, which indicates that the image must have been captured mere seconds after the donkey fell to the ground.

Now, Google is accused by Internet commentators that its Street View mapping crew run over said donkey – something the company denies, claiming that its crew approached the donkey as it was already lying down and then got up and continued walking.

“Our Street View teams take the safety of people and donkeys very seriously”, said a Google Street View spokesman. “A review of our imagery confirms that we did not cause any harm to the donkey.”

The company refers to a set of images that allegedly proves its point. The problem is that said images do the opposite as, for them to make sense the donkey would have to be walking backwards!

Roger Short, Adjunct Professor of Zoology at the Melbourne University told that donkeys simply could not walk backwards.

“Can you walk normally going backwards? You might jog but you wouldn’t run fast. Donkeys are not adapted to it”, he said. “They can take a few steps but they would never normally walk backwards.”

In any case, it’s nice to know that Google’s crew takes the safety of people and donkeys very seriously. Since they are still presumably in Africa, they’d better take the safety of elephants into consideration, too, or they’ll have their vehicle destroyed in seconds.

And then, of course, there are the lions…Feel free to play around with the interactive streetview map below and share your thoughts in the comments section that follows.

By Andrew Tsaousis
Photo Credits: Google Streetview
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