Yes, slowly but surely, the machines are making the decisions for us…

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Just like we can’t imagine a life without cellphones or internet; we can’t imagine an Internet without Google. Saying that Google is our personal window, a personal assistant to the information out there on the Internet would be an understatement. And we feel extremely ecstatic when we get the results we want to see on the first page of the Google search results. We love Google for doing all the hard work for us and showing us what we want to see…

Did you ever imagine that somewhere in this journey, Google has become more & more personalized for you and your Google & the Google of your best friend may be a lot different? Do you realize that slowly but surely, Google is taking over the gatekeeper role of what you see on the internet? Yes, even without you having a goggle/gmail account, even if you’re logged out, there are potentially 57 signals that Google might consider – location, browser, language, history, etc — which it uses to personally tailor your query results. Great, isn’t it? What more could users ask for.. You search for shopping your favorite DVD and the stores listed are near to your area, in your language…

There is an issue here and maybe we don’t realize it. All this ‘personalization’ is hard to observe, is kind of invisible to us and that’s why we don’t notice it. When was the last time you tried to check if your search results are different from anyone else’s? Google is not exactly forthcoming in how it does the personalization for us & what it means. So, this leads us to a scenario where we will see things on the internet that Google thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see. Google is acting like a newspaper editor without our permission. Google is controlling what we see and read, and not the way it should be: the other way around. Google is the new gatekeeper of what we see & what information gets to us. We may no longer decide what gets in. And more importantly, we don’t actually see what gets edited out.

Maybe, those sci-fi movies where machines control the world are not far from reality after all..!!!

Read/Listen more on this subject here at a TED Video


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