Living in Southern California has its perks and its down falls. However facing a limited water supply because of the historic drought is not the main concern of this ‘Soccer’ fan. This Sunday as I couldn’t see the Manchester derby live, I spent the morning ignoring my smartphone and computer, like a modern day version of the Likely Lads in an attempt to avoid finding out the score. When I finally sat down at my computer the window I had open for watching a replay of the game, of course was not working. So naively I searched for “manchester city vs manchester united replay online” and little to my surprise the most used search engine on the planet ruined my day!
I didn’t even have to click through a search result to have the one thing I didn’t want to find out, thrust into my eyesight, like an inappropriate eye chart. After Google ruined my Sunday, I also began thinking about how many other people’s Sundays would be ruined. When did we give power over our emotions like this to a search engine? With Google facing anti-trust charges in Europe over their search engine monopoly it becomes striking the power over the World they are actually holding. Over the last decade the evolution of Google has been enormous. Their role in modern society has developed away from returning the searcher’s most satisfying webpage for their query to now, looking to answer their query directly. Without having to divert any traffic away from Google itself. Unless the website in question is duly paying Google for the privilege, not to be mistaken for pizzo. Which if you do not pay, the doors to the online marketplace are suddenly closed to you, capisci?
The question I’d like to ask, is how long before Google really starts to manipulate people with their control of search? What if a search for “suicide helpline” returns a list of the tallest buildings in your area? Or if you search how to put a fire out, you’re answered with Billy Joel singing that he didn’t start it! We’re not saying Google is becoming Skynet and will be looking to become our robot overlords in the future, but when you begin to allow AI (or deep learning and machine learning) to develop your algorithms and nobody really understands why certain searches bring back certain results anymore, then we just hope Will Smith is around to keep a cap on it.