Originally posted at CNTXT, March 20, 2009
Author: Daniël Verhoeven
The main Google paradox
One way to define contextual information search would be intelligent search. In this article we explore one of the origins of human intelligence: mirror neurons. As to prominent linguists like Arbib and Lakoff mirror neurons explain the adaptive evolution of the human language faculty and the development of conceptual knowledge (Arbib, 2005; Gallese, Lakoff, 2007). The problem is our easy and accepting relationship with Google. We are geesing at Google and engage with it more and more every day, uncritically unthinkingly.
Siva Vaidhyanathan is concerned about the fact that:
“….we do not properly understand the nature of the nature of the transaction between us and Google. …into our relationship with Google we do not grasp that we are not really Google’s costumers. Google calls us users, but in fact we are Google’s products. Our attention is what Google sells to its customers, which are the advertisers.” (BBC interview)
The thesis I want to develop here and in the articles to come is that by using Google we stop developing our conceptual knowledge. Googling is not an intelligent information search strategy. But we are always communicating something. In using Google we express our intentions and the cleverness of Google is to incorporate our intentions in its advertising system and giving us the feel we are finding what we are looking for, but for all this is what Google wants us to look at. One of the things that intrigues me why Google does not disclose to its users their personal user profile, though it shares it with third parties:
- We may use personal information to provide the services you’ve requested, including services that display customized content and advertising.
- We may also use personal information for auditing, research and analysis to operate and improve Google technologies and services.
- We may share aggregated non-personal information with third parties outside of Google.
- We may also share information with third parties in limited circumstances, including when complying with legal process, preventing fraud or imminent harm, and ensuring the security of our network and services.
- Google processes personal information on our servers in the United States of America and in other countries. In some cases, we process personal information on a server outside your own country.” ((http://www.google.be/intl/en/privacy_highlights.html)
The stunning paradox is that Google says that it wants to use our personal data for “research and analysis to operate and improve Google technologies and services”, but is far to slow in improving search technologies. What about improvement? Google only recently (24 March 2009) implemented “a new technology that can better understand associations and concepts related to your search” as to ‘The Official Google Blog’. It was about time Google implemented this because this feature was implemented earlier in the search results of Google’s main competitors. Ask displays ‘Related Searches’ next to the page results and formulates additional relates Questions and Answers about the topic. Cuil lets you explore answers by category and subcategory. Ask and Cuil didn’t only offer associations and concepts earlier they offer more than Google does. Yahoo‘s versions of concepts is comparable with the one of Google, only it was implemented much earlier. and Wikia Search doesn’t only offer conceptual associations it is also letting the user add suggestions interactively. So it looks rather like Google felt the heat from its competitors than it implemented a novel improvement. (see Search Engine History);
Is Google stupid or does it think we are stupid? I’m afraid the latter is the case. Google has collected the best research brains and is funding top research at universities worldwide but the use of this knowledge conflicts with its business model. If a Google search would deliver only relevant results, it would reduce the opportunities to show pay-per-click advertisements. These ads are the main income of Google
About the importance of Mirror neurons, also in CMC intention counts
“The observation of an object-related hand action leads to the activation of the same neural network active during its actual execution. Action observation causes in the observer the automatic activation of the same neural mechanism triggered by action execution.” (Gallese, 2005).
In the years that follow, Gallese and others (also called the Parma Group because they all work at the university of Parma in Italy) explore the Mirror Neuron system. The Mirror Neuron system is also demonstrated in the human brain. Continue reading