Anyone Remember the Google and Its Magic Algorithms?

September 21, 2022

Outfits like Foundem and the French tax authority wondered why the findability of their products and services was poor. I recall hearing from one or more Googlers the message that manual changes to search results were not part of the grand plan. The algorithms have more than 100 factors which make such determinations. Heck, I even included about 120 of these in my monograph published by the late and lamented publishing outfit Infonortics. In the Google Legacy I summarized these numerical recipes and pointed out that Google’s super secret system and method determined Google quality, Google relevance, and Google appropriateness. I did the research for that monograph in 2003 and 2004.

How times change! In 2015, the phrase “right to be forgotten” gained traction. In early 2022, Spain complained about the Google right to be forgotten process.

I read “Google App Starts Rolling Out Results about You to Help Remove Personal Information.” The article points out:

For some today, opening the Google app on Android and tapping your profile avatar in the top-right corner reveals a new “Results about you” menu item. This takes users to a page that explains how they can request Google remove Search results that contain phone number, home address, email, or other PII.

So what?

My opinion is that Alphabet Google YouTube DeepMind or AGYD has the tools, knobs, and dials to makes it smart systems perform like puppets in the hands of a digitally literate puppet master. If my view is accurate, some hypothetical notions can be outlined; for instance:

  1. AGYD can “steer” what enters its systems and what goes out to its partners, advertisers, and users. Does this mean that oversight of AGYD is needed? The European Union seems to think so it appears.
  2. AGYD’s protestations about objectivity and doing good stuff for its users could be rephrased this way: Google does good stuff for Alphabet, itself, YouTube, and DeepMind. If this hypothesis is close enough for horse shoes, what does ethical behavior mean in the AGYD datasphere?
  3. Are AGYD’s systems “smart” or are these systems just following instructions. How should algorithms like those in use at AGYD be viewed: [a] Harmless science club stuff, [b] Applied weaponized information methods, [c] a Rube Goldberg system which allows a large number of adjustments as long as the money generating functions are not impaired?, or [d] some other view?

These three points are observations and probably a reflection of my skepticism about “magical” technology. Google may be more like Houdini than Einstein.

Stephen E Arnold, September 21, 2022

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