Google, Give Me the Fox

New York is big, bewildering, and complicated. When I first moved to this city, I didn’t quite grasp the subway despite my eagerness to learn. I took public transportation to the wrong boroughs, got lost each time I set foot in Brooklyn, and accidentally sent at least a handful of trusting tourists off in the wrong direction only to realize what I’d done minutes too late.


I’ve lived here for seven years and only now do I truly understand the bus.

It’s not that I was especially careless. But I didn’t have a smartphone back then, I’d never lived in a big city before, and frankly, I had plenty of other things to worry about. Little things like “money,” “work,” and “my propensity for selecting bad apartments.”

Thinking about it now (and the image sure is fuzzy today), there may have been a moment in my life when all the knowledge I’d gathered meshed seamlessly with the futuristic tech tucked in my pocket. Once I got my hands on an iPhone, the Google Maps app—combined with my improved understanding of the city—made navigating the world a hell of a lot easier. But that was years ago, before the heavy, endless doses of internet finally turned my brain to mush.

I am now ready to accept the mush-brained person I have become and, with it, the perpetual feeling of being eaten alive by the tech I crave. So Google’s annual developer keynote felt perfectly timed, featuring (as a brief aside amid a flurry of boring developer updates) news that the company was developing an AI fox. A cute little navigator whose brain has not yet been pounded to a pulp with useless information like who that weirdo Grimes is suddenly dating is, and what his relationship with his family is like.

Unfortunately we do not know much about the fox. The expert navigator. The bouncy, trotting compass designed to one day augment the boring, 2D maps I typically turn to for wayfinding help. But immediately I trust it. It’s the abstraction we need as Google’s AI tech gets more ubiquitous, complicated, and creepy.


I only caught a glimpse of the fox, because that was all Google offered, but unlike most of the other announcements Google made yesterday, I am eager to learn more, even if Google isn’t all that willing to share just yet. The good fox, the “helpful guide,” my new maps buddy. I truly hope you aren’t just vaporware.

Google, give me the fox.

Senior news editor at Gizmodo


What does the fox say?
“Turn left on Spring St”