Allegedly "bad" behaviors of Google to discuss:
- Sneaking their tool-bar into products with an install default of "on".
- Amplifies bad but popular ideas
- [under construction]
Google's corporate identity is bound to the proposition, "Don't Be Evil". And no one could possibly suggest that Google does not, for most people, on most days, bring joy and novelty. Google has had a profoundly enlarging and liberating effect on most users. Google enlightens and surprises, educates and invests, and employs many excellent folk of good cheer and will to lead us, as Browning put it,
[...] to a joyous land,
Joining our town and just at hand,
Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew,
And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
And everything was strange and new;
The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
And honey-bees had lost their stings,
And horses were born with eagles' wings
Nevertheless I'm going to suggest you consider, seriously, the proposition that Google is, inherently, unavoidably evil, the tentacles of the military media industrial complex sunk deep into everyone's cortex, mass mind control as a business. And by mind control I don't mean Google's advertising business, though there may be arguments to make against that.
I mean PageRank
As you know pagerank determines the order in which Google presents results. The higher your pagerank, the more attention you get, the more links you gain, the higher your pagerank. This is a cultural positive feedback loop. Difficult ideas, unpopular ideas, ideas of depth and subtlety, lose to pagerank. Pagerank rewards and amplifies popularism and noise. Doing this must inevitably give rise to culture-limiting feedback effects in the flow of thoughts moving through the medium.
Simply put, Google literally rather than metaphorically sucks.
Google encourages people around the world to think the same thoughts in the same ways, with the same connections. The thoughts that propagate are not the ones that promote rationality, goodness, or civilization. The thoughts that propagate are the overflowing toilets of our culture, the Hiltons, Bushes, Jesuses.
Expressing a facile idea gains it pagerank which puts it in more search results more often, which gets more people to link to and replicate it, which bumps up its pagerank(s) ... But if I have a correct, meritorious, but otherwise boring, complex, or unusual idea to express, where's its pagerank? It gains few links and stagnates. Positive feedback limits our culture to the FeelLuckyVerse
Does this have a real, palpable effect? I believe it does! Look at Bush - a simpleton, an incompetent, a nepotist, a liar, a plutocrat, a dry drunk, a corrupt bozo who has shredded everything that was profitable and progressive about the USA. Could Bush exist without Google?
Bush is the creature Google stitched together from dead parts. The last time we had a president this inept, malignant, pixilated and misanthropic was Nixon. Nixon tried to use the media to cover his ass, but the iconic view of Tricky Dicky waving his peace signs and claiming to be "not a crook" convinced no one. Dicky was hoist by his own self-bugged petard, hauled in front of congress, impeached[*] and only saved from a hangman's noose by his cahoot Gerry Ford.
Not only has Bush not been impeached, but despite the fact that his popularity is now lower than Nixon's record, it remains unthinkable to almost everyone that he will be impeached. That he can be impeached. Bush, the universal wisdom has it, will get off scott free. I think he will too. But why?
Those voices that call for Bush to be held to account are drowned in the feedback howl that is pagerank. Bush as an object of sarcasm and irony, that's "lucky". Bush as a target for scorn, pity, and sorrow, that's "lucky". But Bush as a target for recall and imprisonment by an active electorate? That's extremism, terrorism, bolshevism, about as far from the mainstream as you can get.
Don't believe me? Google Bush. No mention of the word "impeach" until result 66 - 7 pages in for 99% of the users. Google Nixon and you get "impeach" on the first page.
Now if you google for [impeach bush] you see over 1 million hits where [impeach nixon] gets just 700,000. And [elect bush] gets under 400,000. So impeaching Bush isn't exactly an unpopular idea. But Pagerank obcures it behind lampooning Bush, haranguing Bush, and all kinds of noisy interlinked BS about the MSM for Bush. So in my gut, and I expect in your gut, it just feels like an extreme idea. Why?
Society is generated by technology. If you want to change society, change technology. Religion is also part of the feedback effect Google reinforces. You haven't noticed Google weakening religious extremism now have you? In the 10 years since Google was founded, religion, dogma, stupidity in all its forms, has risen to the dominating tone in our society, the feedback howl that kills rationality, logic, diversity and subtlety.
And then there's money, the really great American religion. If you can turn a buck, you're a godly so and so, on the up and up, respectable. And this applies to Google themselves - since Google make money they must be doing good. But in fact we all know money distorts information like a gravitational field. If you were to look for the biggest black hole in the universe of information, where do you suppose you ought to look?
But, you say, Google lets us discover new opinions, new ideas, things we didn't know before. Well, sure. But not more rational, more correct, more reasonable - just more stimulating of debate. I can put up a novel argument on abortion, say:
- Aborted embryos should be frozen and transported in bulk to the Vatican, which has a moral duty to provide cryonic suspension for the unborns until artificial womb technology improves to the point that they can be thawed and delivered. It is the moral responsibility of the church to fund cryonics and biotech until this becomes safe.
Such a page would not be correct, merely controversial. It would gain links from both pro and anti abortion groups, and might conceivably gain MSM coverage. That doesn't stop it from being idiotic tripe concocted to promote controversy. And hence PageRank
So much for Politics and Religion, but how about Science? Well, I am old enough to recall a time when "black holes in the sky" was an aphoristic line in a Pink Floyd song. We have no evidence, none, zilch, nada, that black holes are anything but a lyric. Yet if you ask 99 punters in 100 on the subject, you'll get the same po-faced Disney-esque explanation of event horizons and singularities.
If you suggest to these punters that maybe black holes along with the photons they keep trapped are mere artifacts of the limits of our language of physics, no more based in empiricism than the wicked witch and snow white, you will get yourself immediately classed as a kook to the very far right of the creationists. Even creationists that deny the Big Bang believe in black holes!
Just by raising the idea that photons are as paradoxical, as fraught, and as likely wrong-headed now as epicycles or phlogiston were once I should expect to be called a kook myself. The orthodoxy must be right because Google finds them first. The 21st century Mrs Grundy is always right. Which is why the speed of the 21st century plow is now slowing logarithmically (http://www.kheper.net/topics/singularity/critiques.html
). When you can't frame a new question you can't expect a new answer!
There are vastly more things between heaven and hell than are linked of in the feel-lucky-verse. But the more people buy into an idea, the more include it in their web pages, the more different ideas don't get a look in on the first page of search results. Inevitably Googlism (http://www.thechurchofgoogle.org/Scripture/Proof_Google_Is_God.html
) is identical with Abnegism (http://scifipedia.scifi.com/index.php/Null-P
). And for proof of that look how hard it is for Googlists to find out what Abnegism actually means!
In short, through Pagerank, Google converts the diversity of global cultures into a purely centralized commons. Pagerank is an invisible hand, enthralling the human race like the Pied Piper, whether its owners intend it or not.
And all pipers must be paid. When the hole in the hill opens and swallows our democracy, our science, our morality, our civilization entirely, what can those few left outside say?
And just as I became assured
My lame foot would be speedily cured,
The music stopped and I stood still,
And found myself outside the Hill,
Left alone against my will,
To go now limping as before,
And never hear of that country more!"
[Nixon was never impeached. Bill Clinton was, and the first President Johnson were, but Nixon was not. -- ElizabethWiethoff
Imagine an index you curate of all the information, every last skerick, that's ever been important to you. Okay, leave out the porn and tunes - leave out anything of a broadcast ilk.
Well, that index ain't gonna be very large now, is it? A few megabytes, tops. Me likewise. But I'd be only too interested in merging in the similar indices of a few trusted friends. I'd get VASTLY better indexing than from all the idiot bloggers and lowlives google uses to make up its pagerank.
Now let's say I develop a new interest that none of my present trusted sources happen to share. Well, the first thing I'd want is to obtain indexes from all the trusted friends of my trusted friends, then search that.
And then their friends ... out to the famous 6 degrees of connection. If anyone knows anything about that new interest, it's certainly in the 6 degrees view. But I'll get better quality if I can find it at the 2 degrees view, the 3, the 4, or the 5.
Google doesn't offer those 1-5 views to me, just #6. And I think that's where their evil comes from.
It seems you are suggesting a different approach to searching, namely a distributed index and rank sharing between peers and friends. This idea could be expanded on like
- having different trust in friends than an amorphous crowd (Web 2.0) or a large company (Google). There are TrustMetrics for this.
- data to be shared could be one's own bookmarks, document indices, but also
- one's own pagerank (as captured e.g. in the frequency of pages visited).
Just have one open source distributed search engine.
Not distributed so much as decentralized - a search engine that uses the network of trust to eliminate the commons created by having just the one PageRank.
I don't know what to say to this, except that this does not belong on this wiki. This belongs on GreenCheese
or something. Peter, you and I have had this discussion before, and I've successfully refuted each and every one on a point by point basis.
Um, didn't you write me, "This is the first valid criticism of page-rank that I've *ever* seen. Thank you." If you've changed your mind, Sam, you'll forgive me if I ask how come.
- That was referring specifically to one, and only one, thing, which is factually observable. Oddly, you didn't list it above. I stand by my statements. --SamuelFalvo?
I will not go into detail here, because it'd quadruple the length of this page, and it still won't convince you. Suffice it to say that not ONE
of your raised criticisms against Google is actually
the fault of Google. The worst crime you can levy against Google is that it exposes the intrinsic stupidity of the people of the world.
The argument is that it doesn't just expose, but amplifies it. If you refuted that I missed it.
We will never live in a StarTrekUniverse?
, I'm afraid. Humanity is much too inbred for that to ever happen. Instead, expect the future to reveal a StarWarsUniverse?
, and that is the best
prediction I can come up with. My personal belief is it will be more akin to an AliensUniverse?
"We are all in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars." Wilde I think. Also that thing about the bat's piss.
Oh, and regarding black holes, what better idea do you
have? And, how can you otherwise explain the ever-growing pile of photographic evidence
for blackholes? You know, like these:
Nice photos. Newtonian gravity's pretty good for a lot of things on Earth, right? But it breaks in lots of other cases. Einstein's ideas break in lots of cases too - on small scales obviously. They're just theories, Sam, not belief systems. But in any case you miss the point - black holes have propagated as a belief system, not as a method for scientists to reconcile empiricism. They propagate the same way ideas about Jesus do - as a popular myth.
- You are espousing a distinct belief system that just reaks of religion. "Just a theory" is what the intelligent design freaks are calling evolution. The difference between intelligent design and evolution? The latter has factual, reproducable evidence to support its "theory." It is so close to the asymptote of being a natural law that, for all intents and purposes, it is just that: a natural law. Yes, blackholes are "just a theory," in same sense that even Newtonian gravity is "just a theory." But, waltz onto an aikido mat with me, and I'll be sure to demonstrate just how naturally legal that theory actually is. Like I said elsewhere, you are a baffoon and utterly irresponsible, utterly disconnected with reality if you repeatedly perform an experiement over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again, and more still, with all the same results, in thousands of different combinations of inputs, and still refuse to believe what you're observing. Reality is. Failure to recognize that implies a mental disturbance. --SamuelFalvo?
- Infinities of virtual photons dance on the heads of pins. I'm far from the first person to suggest a physical infinity of angels, epicycles, or virtual photons is no way to run a realistic universe. If you think physical infinities of photons are reality, then what the heck was wrong with the epicycles?
The fact is, the math behind black holes and the observed behavior of whatever those things are
agree. They have for decades. There comes a point when, after 15 years of banging your head against a brick wall, you learn that the brick wall is solid and isn't going anywhere. Likewise, after all this evidence, observations which agree with formal models, et. al., you eventually come to the conclusion that, yes, black holes do, indeed, exist.
Why do you feel happier with black holes than, say, dark matter or dark energy? Or Orgone? Homeopathic drugs? Qi?
- Yep, same argument as for epicycles, phlogiston ... all that stuff. Look, I'm not saying there aren't any such things as black holes. I'm simply observing that black holes are based on no empiricism at all - that understanding what's actually in those pictures depends on critters like quantum gravity about which we have no reasonable agreement at all. And that the infiniities of virtual critters are a great big fat hint that what's really there is very different to what the feel-lucky-verse says is there. That last being actually the point ...
- [Orgone, homeopathy, and Qi are supported by sound mathematical & theoretical models and rigorously-controlled experimental evidence?]
- Orgone, homeopathy, and qi are concepts I am skeptical of. Qi, used in the martial arts sense, can be explained purely through mechanics. The rest are proven to be hoaxes. --SamuelFalvo?
- Um ... yeah, tell Madeleine Ennis homeopathy is a hoax (http://space.newscientist.com/article/mg18524911.600-13-things-that-do-not-make-sense.html). As for Orgone, most of it seems to be bunk - but the idea that life is a fundamental physical process, rather than an epiphenomenon of lifeless physics, is worth investigating a lot more closely. If we tar it with the black and white brush Google generates that makes such an investgation less likely - coming back to the point.
On the topic of a distributed search engine, you solve nothing. OK, it's distributed. You and I can agree on what articles get published because we filter each other according to our own prejudices. Likewise, however, you get the Bush family using the same technology to filter out all opposing views to them. And the Clintons. And the Obamas. And the various Communist parties. And the neo-nazis. And ...
And diversity is a good thing. Decentralization would make the thing more diverse, so I think that's worth a go.
- It also is far more dangerous. It provides the breeding ground for hatred, contempt, and evil on scales you've never seen before. Such is their right to talk, but is it their right to be listened to? If you want to say something, give it a basis in reality. Put up a website. And then you promote your website. And if your idea sticks, people will link. Remember, Google isn't an amplifier -- it is a lense -- it shows what people are doing. Google has nothing to do with what people link their websites to. --SamuelFalvo?
- If you're seriously arguing against decentralization and diversity on the grounds that they may amplify hate ... well, look around you to see what centralization and monculturalism are breeding ...
The point is, changing the technology will not
change the people. You claim that technology created society, and that's true, to a point.
A society still needs people
Try reading TheAncientEngineers. SpragueDeCamp makes the point far better than I ever could.
- Try not. We live in the 21st century. It's best if we live in the now. --SamuelFalvo?
Think about it: if your proposed solution is so much more equitable, then it will not at all
appeal to the general public. EVER.
Thus, it will forever remain a niche product, used by a niche set of societies. Mark my words on that.
Better to do than to wax lyrical about the thing. I'll chat about solutions when I have something to chat about.
I use money and software, in spite of protestations of their evilness, and for that matter I use also Google, and will continue to use (all three) as do billions of others. -- DonaldNoyes