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Re: <nettime> "Googlex distorts reality"
chad scov1lle on Wed, 26 Dec 2007 21:07:30 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> "Googlex distorts reality"


"Moreover, Maurer was worried that Google could use its "almost
universal" knowledge of what was happening in the world to play global stock
markets to its advantage."

I am highly skeptical of claims such as this. Major market shifts in the past
century have been completely unpredicted, low probability, highly random
events. If anything, the expert problem should attest completely to this idea,
whereas the more information one has pertaining to forecasting, the less likely
they are to be right about a given outcome.

Furthermore, it's a ludic fallacy to assume the simplicity of data mining and
information gathering could translate into better financial returns. The
sub-prime mortgage mess the in America is a practical example of that. The Wall
Street Journal I believe conducted a study in which a monkey was able to better
pick higher dividend securities over analysts!

What is the alternative here? Better regulation and stronger data protection
laws overseen by government to protect the citizens against this type of
intrusion? People have the freedom of choice to utilize whichever search engine
they want - no one is holding a gun to their head forcing them to leverage
Google.

-----Original Message-----
From: geert lovink [mailto:geert {AT} desk.nl]
Sent: Wednesday, December 26, 2007 09:43 AM
To: nettime-l {AT} kein.org
Subject: <nettime> "Google distorts reality"

Google distorts reality, Austrian study says

Download the study (in English) here:
http://www.iicm.tugraz.at/iicm_papers/dangers_google.pdf

Google, the world's largest Internet search engine, is on several
fronts a danger that has to be stopped, a study released by Austria's
Graz University claims.

A research team led by Prof. Hermann Maurer, chairman of Graz
University's Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media,
argues that Google is turning into a new version of George Orwell's
"Big Brother" - creating unacceptable monopolies in many areas of the
worldwide web.

According to his research, around 61 billion Internet searches are
conducted each month. In the US, on average 57 percent of searches are
conducted with Google, and up to 95 percent of Internet users use
Google at least sometimes.

It is dangerous enough that single entity such as Google is dominant as
a search engine, Maurer and his co-writers say, but the fact that
Google is operating many other services and is probably colluding with
still further players was "unacceptable".

"Google is massively invading privacy," the study said with the company
knowing more than any other organization about individuals and
companies, but not bound by national data protection laws. Google was
amassing data by using data mining tools in its applications like
Google Earth or Gmail in connection with being its search engine
function.

Thus, the search engine could potentially turn into the world's largest
detective agency, the Austrian researchers warned, using the data it
was collecting from its users via its applications. Even if Google did
not use that potential now, it might have to do so in the future in the
interest of its shareholders.

The study argues that Google is influencing economies in the way
advertisements and documents are ranked. "The more a company pays, the
more often will the ad be visible." The study believes influence may be
increased by also ranking results from queries, and that Google could,
for business reasons, in the future rank paying customers higher in
search results.

Moreover, Maurer was worried that Google could use its "almost
universal" knowledge of what was happening in the world to play global
stock markets to its advantage.

The danger of a distorted "googling" reality loomed ever closer, the
report said. "Google has become the main interface of our reality," the
study authors said.

Most material written today was in some way based on Google and
Wikipedia - and if those did not reflect reality, a distortion was
possible, the researchers said, recalling biased contributions
frequently placed on Wikipedia.

Furthermore, there is some indication of cooperation between Google and
Wikipedia. Sample statistics showed that random selected Wiki entries
consistently ranked higher on Google than on other search engines, the
Graz team said.

Maurer also criticized journalists who increasingly started researching
their stories by googling them, as well as students copying significant
amounts of their work from the Internet.

"Google's open aim is to know everything there is to know on Earth,"
the researchers concluded. "It cannot be tolerated that a private
company has that much power: it can extort, control, and dominate the
world at will."

Stopping the insidious aspects of Google was however not possible by a
head-on strategy, as the company was too powerful, the Austrian
researchers warn. Rather, they say, the "Google effect" can be
minimized by the introduction of special-purpose search engines that
are better in their areas of application that the larger company is.

--

See also:

http://tihane.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/herman-maurer-keynote-at-ectel07/


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