Can Algorithms Be Designed to Perform Like Trained Dogs?

September 11, 2018

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Trump thinks Google search results are rigged in the article, “Here’s What We Really Know About Google’s Mysterious Search Engine.” Trump claims that Google and other social media search results are rigged for their lack of conservative, right wing views on the networks. The president even warned Facebook, Google, and Twitter that they are treading on thin ice.

Mr. Trump, like some Web site operators receiving minimal traffic, has arrived at this conclusion because of the dominance these platforms have on people’s lives. However does it have any stock? Google claims that it does not pollute its search results, but the company has also shown it does not like the president. After a short explanation about how Google search works, the article moves into information about “Google News’ secret sauce.” Google News has an algorithm that personalizes news results for each user. People and companies can influence the search results with their content, but how much does Google intervene in the results?

We learned:

“Google’s algorithm, particularly for search, is a master algorithm that is applied in real time against each search query as it comes in, according to the company. Although the algorithm itself frequently changes as Google makes tweaks, it is applied identically to each search. If the results differ from person to person, that could be because they may be using a browser in incognito mode, which deletes the cookies and other third-party tracking software. Or they may be searching from a different location, triggering Google’s reflex to return local results. Or they may simply be performing a search slightly later in time than another, said Christo Wilson, a computer science professor at Northeastern University who has studied Google’s search practices for six years.”

We like the idea of a master algorithm? We also believe that filtering information can have interesting consequences.

How political are free systems which display answers to questions? Is it possible for a disgruntled person to tweak wrapper code to return certain results or to down check a certain concept?

Answers to these questions are difficult to evaluate. After two decades of providing ad supported information, why would anyone doubt the objectivity of mathematical recipes?

Woof, woof.

Stephen E Arnold, September 11, 2018

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