Robin Good: Beyond Google Evil Lie Individual Human Curators

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The future of search may not just be about Google and Bing. In the future of search, believe it or not, there are going to be a lot of people like you and me who will be providing much more helpful information guidance to specific requests than Google could ever do. I know this sounds probably unrealistic to you, but I think there are now many good indications that this likely going to happen much sooner than you expect. One of the key reasons why, human beings will start to reclaim this highly valuable search territory, is the fact that in the last few years we have slowly but deeply surrendered our ability to evaluate, decide and select what is “real” to Google’s own algorithms, in ways that can only be detrimental to us.

You have probably read in recent times that Google is moving to use “semantic search” rather than the keyword-based approach it has been using until now. Do you know that “in semantic search, the decisions are not based on statistics, but rather on world models”? “How about searching for “Dictators of the World?” The results, which include a list of famous dictators, are not just the judgment of whether someone is a dictator, but also an implicit judgment of choosing individual examples for the concept of a dictator. When building knowledge over concepts such as “Dictator” in the search engines, we are implicitly accepting a set of assumptions.”

It is needed to question and monitor these models, for in the past, the significance was only in the human mind. Now, it is also in the mind of the engines that forward us information. The search bears an editorial point of view, and its results reflect this point of view. We can’t ignore the assumptions behind these results. The invisible judgments will frame our conscience.”

Here is a must read article by Zeh Fernandes, that wants to ignite an open discussion about “how the Google monopoly is affecting the way we search for and receive information on the internet”. I think that this is a topic deserving the highest attention and I highly recommend to read in full this excellent article, especially to content curators, information librarians and any other individual concerned with our future ability to vet, organize and make sense of the ocean of information surrounding us. Alternative search tools and content curators are the future. Good reminder of what we are eating daily. Insightful. Eye-opening. 10/10

THE EVIL SIDE OF GOOGLE

Search Engines as Arbiters of Truth — the Filter Bubble

Zeh Fernandes in Portuguese

Translated to English by Cassio Oliveira

Zahfernandes.com, 8 January 2014

“Don’t be evil”, says the official letter of Google’s Initial Public Offering in 2004. It is used as an internal motto to the present day. It acts as common sense for a company that, being so powerful, lives constantly on the brink of being corrupted to the dark side of the force. Star Wars or not, awareness is required, as this dark side is getting powerful amid the colorful empire named Google.

In 2013, the Edge magazine interviewed several people known for their intellectual contributions, asking them this question: “What should we be worried about?” Scientist and researcher W. Daniel Hillis highlighted that we should worry about search engines becoming the arbiters of truth.

Hillis explains that previously any search would return web pages based on a sequence of letters matching the words searched. Now, Google searches semantically. When searching for “Museums of New York”, it will look up for entities it recognizes as museums which are located inside the geographical region of New York. In order to do so, the computers performing the searching must know what a museum is, what New York is, and how these two are related. The computers must use this knowledge to make a judgment.

The problem becomes clearer when you change the keywords from “Museums of New York” to “Provinces of China”. Is Taiwan a province? This is a controversial question and, in semantic search, the decisions are not based on statistics, but rather on world models. How about searching for “Dictators of the World?” The results, which include a list of famous dictators, are not just the judgment of whether someone is a dictator, but also an implicit judgment of choosing individual examples for the concept of a dictator. When building knowledge over concepts such as “Dictator” in the search engines, we are implicitly accepting a set of assumptions.

It is needed to question and monitor these models, for in the past, the significance was only in the human mind. Now, it is also in the mind of the engines that forward us information. The search bears an editorial point of view, and its results reflect this point of view. We can’t ignore the assumptions behind these results. The invisible judgments will frame our conscience. This article aims at introducing a discussion about how the Google monopoly is affecting the way we search for and receive information on the internet.

Table of Contents  for the Article
Filter Bubble
Privacy and Transparency
Behavior Induction
Monopoly
Alternative Search Engines
YossarianLives

Read full article with graphics.