Who are the brain police? Part 1

Fred Showker
Dec 26, 2018 · 4 min read

I have been reading a long list of opinions, rants and reports surrounding President Trump’s claim of Google manipulating political searches. Most people laughed simply because Trump said it — which is completely a false conclusion. The scary truth that researchers point out is if Google wanted to throw an election to a favored candidate, they certainly could, and nobody would believe it.

The real and present danger from tech companies

All Google has to do is alter a small fraction of search results and boom, public opinion changed. When some of us detected such a ploy, in all likelihood we wouldn’t be believed. Worse yet, once there was traction to the claim, all Google would have to do is easily and quickly change the algorithms again to disprove any claims.

Jackie Snow, MIT Technology Review’s associate editor for artificial intelligence, helps us understand what’s happening by writing:

The internet might seem like a level playing field, but it isn’t. Safiya Umoja Noble came face to face with that fact one day when she used Google’s search engine to look for subjects her nieces might find interesting. She entered the term “black girls” and came back with pages dominated by pornography. Noble, a USC Annenberg communications professor, was horrified but not surprised.

It’s all about the money

Because of internet revenue, and the unquenchable thirst for money, the digital giants have arrived at a point where they can do basically what they want to. Nobody will go up against Google for fear of being neutralized. After all, if you’re not in Google, you don’t exist. Secondary to Google is Facebook and Amazon. Both of these shape global discourse through their secret algorithms. Twitter and Instagram are certainly contenders, and remember that Facebook owns Instagram.

Snow points out :

Regulators in Europe have already fined Google for this sort of search bias. In 2012, the F.T.C.’s antitrust investigators found credible evidence of unfair search practices at Google. The F.T.C.’s commissioners, however, voted unanimously against bringing charges. Google denies any wrongdoing.*

The troubling question is how long society will allow them to get away with this, and how widespread it will be before somebody wakes up.

As you can see, not many people see my rants. So, I’m a nobody with no traction. But at least I shared my opinion.

Read the article by Jackie Snow

… and thanks for reading

Thanks to Frank Zappa for writing “Who are the Brain Police”

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60-Second Window

Fred Showker exploring design, tech and media issues, since 1985

60-Second Window

Fred Showker‘s editorial column “60-Second Window” in 1987 as part of a syndicated news service distributed, via diskette, to computer user groups all over the country. The 60 Second Window explores issues surrounding technology and it’s effects on people and society.

Fred Showker

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Design, Typography & Graphics Magazine and 60-Seconds exploring technology since 1987

60-Second Window

Fred Showker‘s editorial column “60-Second Window” in 1987 as part of a syndicated news service distributed, via diskette, to computer user groups all over the country. The 60 Second Window explores issues surrounding technology and it’s effects on people and society.