Saturday, June 27, 2020

Discourse Wars

According to @kevinroose, one of the most popular posts on Facebook yesterday was a story about a Vietnam War memorial supposedly vandalized by BLM protesters. Except that the photo was from 2016, the vandals weren't anything to do with BLM, and the story had been debunked weeks ago.

Someone called Jeff responded on Twitter, claiming that Kevin and others were missing the point. Yes the picture is incorrect but doesn't subtract from all the other memorials the BLM movement did vandalize. And someone called James argued that BLM is still a group that doesn't give a damn about America and that is trying to destroy everything that it stands for. So it wouldn't have surprised me in the least if they had done that since it's in keeping with who they are and how they think.


Jeff and James don't seem bothered by the fact that the story is fabricated, because in their eyes it confirms some deeper truth. A truth in which one memorial is the same as another memorial, in which an act in 2016 described by locals as ignorant, having no sense of history is conflated with a series of acts motivated by an acute sense of historical injustice, and in which any attack on the symbols of this historical injustice counts as destroying everything America stands for.


Michel Foucault argued that each society had its regime of truth.
The possibility exists for fiction to function in truth, for a fictional discourse to induce effects of truth, and for bringing it about that a true discourse engenders or manufactures something that does not as yet exist. Foucault


Michel Foucault, “The History of Sexuality,” in Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972–77, ed. Colin Gordon, trans. Colin Gordon, Leo Marshall, JohnMepham, Kate Soper (New York: Pantheon, 1980), p. 193

Daniel Funke, Vietnam memorial was not vandalized by Black Lives Matter protesters (PolitiFact, 4 June 2020)

Daniele Lorenzini, What is a Regime of Truth? (Le Foucaldien, 1(1), 1. 2015) http://doi.org/10.16995/lefou.2

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Habitual Vice of Epistemology

In his recent polemic on #ClimateChange, Bruno Latour writes

But these rational sorts are just as caught up as the others in the tangles of disinformation. They do not see that it is useless to be indignant that people believe in alternative facts, when they themselves live in an alternative world, a world in which climate mutation occurs, while it does not in the world of their opponents.

It is not a matter of learning how to repair cognitive deficiencies, but rather of how to live in the same world, share the same culture, face up to the same stakes, perceive a landscape that can be explored in concert. Here we find the habitual vice of epistemology, which consists in attributing to intellectual deficits something that is quite simply a deficit in shared practice.
Down to Earth, p25

Bernard Harcourt adds
A true fact cannot stand on its own, autonomously, independent of social relations, of who tells it, or finds it, or proves it—and where and how it is established. There may well be facticity, but in order for facts to stick, they have to properly form part of social life. And when our shared social life has been scarred by betrayal and exploitation, it will no longer be fertile ground for the trust necessary to maintain truths.



Bernard E. Harcourt, Bruno Latour on Truth and Praxis (Critique and Praxis 13/13, 16 December 2018)

Bruno Latour, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (Polity Press, 2018).

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

False Sense of Security

According to the dictionary, a false sense of security is a feeling of being safer than one really is. Apparently that's a bad thing.

Peter Sandman is a strong believer in what he calls precaution advocacy - to arouse some healthy outrage and use it to mobilize people to take precautions or demand precautions. He has helped environmental groups arouse public concern about the need for recycling, the dangers of factory emissions, etc. In such contexts, his concern is that people are disregarding or underestimating some category of risk, and he is urging the introduction of appropriate precautions - whether individual or collective.

There are countless risk and security experts who take a similar position - for example, advocating greater diligence in corporate security, especially cybersecurity.

However, as Dr Sandman acknowledges, the notion of a false sense of security is often used rhetorically, suggesting that a given regulation or other precaution is not only unnecessary but even counter-productive, making people careless or complacent. This argument is sometimes based on the notion of risk homeostasis or risk compensation - that people adjust their behaviour to maintain a comfortable level of risk. The classic example is people with seatbelts and airbags driving faster and more recklessly.

Dr Sandman notes that the rhetoric can sometimes be deployed by both sides of an argument - for example "gun controls create a false sense of security" versus "guns create a false sense of security". What this suggests is that the rhetoric is often about other people - the implication is that We have a true sense of security, but They would be misled.

The notion of a false sense of security also arises in connection with security theatre - a performance that may have little real impact on security, but is intended to reassure people that Something Is Being Done. When Bruce Schneier introduced this term in his 2003 book, he regarded security theatre as fraudulent, and believed it was always a Bad Thing. However, he later came to acknowledge that security theatre, while still deceptive and potentially problematic, could sometimes be valuable. His example is security bracelets on newborn babies, which don't do much to protect against the actual but extremely small risk of abduction, but do a great deal to calm anxious parents. If Dr Sandman's precaution advocacy is targetted at situations of High Hazard, Low Outrage (in other words, people not worrying enough), then Security Theatre could be legitimately targetted at situations of Low Hazard, High Outrage (people worrying too much).

So perhaps sometimes giving people a false sense of security is ethically justified?



Peter Glaskowsky, Bruce Schneier's New View on Security Theater (CNET, 9 April 2008)

Peter Sandman, False Sense of Security (25 May 2018), Precaution Advocacy (undated)

Bruce Schneier, Beyond Fear (2003), In Praise of Security Theatre (Wired, 25 January 2007)

Gerald Wilde, Risk homeostasis theory: an overview (Injury Prevention Vol 4 No 2, 1998)

Wikipedia: Risk Compensation, Security Theatre

Related posts: Surveillance and its Effects (May 2005), Technical Security and Context (September 2005), Hard Cases Make Bad Law (September 2009), The Illusion of Architecture (September 2012), Anxiety as a Cost (January 2013), Listening for Trouble (June 2019)


Updated 28 June 2019. Thanks to Peter Sandman for comments.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Insurance and the Veil of Ignorance

Put simply, the purpose of insurance is to shift risk from the individual to the collective. When an individual cannot afford to bear a given risk, the individual purchases some risk cover from an organization - typically an insurance company or mutual - which spreads the risk over many individuals and is supposedly better able to bear these risks.

Individuals are sometimes obliged to purchase insurance - for example, car insurance before driving on the public roads, or house insurance before getting a mortgage. In some countries, there may be legal requirements to have some form of health insurance.

Insurance companies typically charge different premiums to different individuals depending on the perceived risk and the available statistics. For example, if young inexperienced drivers and very elderly drivers have more accidents, it would seem fair for these drivers to pay a higher premium.

Insurance companies therefore try to obtain as much information about the individual as possible, in order to calculate the correct premium, or even to decide whether to offer cover at all. But this is problematic for two reasons.

The first problem is about fairness, as these calculations may embed various forms of deliberate or inadvertent discrimination. As Joi Ito explains,
The original idea of risk spreading and the principle of solidarity was based on the notion that sharing risk bound people together, encouraging a spirit of mutual aid and interdependence. By the final decades of the 20th century, however, this vision had given way to the so-called actuarial fairness promoted by insurance companies to justify discrimination.
The second problem is about knowledge and what Foucault calls biopower. Just suppose your insurance company is monitoring your driving habits through sensors in the vehicle or cameras in the street, knows how much red meat you are eating, knows your drinking habits through the motion and location sensors on your phone, is inferring your psychological state from your Facebook profile, and has complete access to your fitness tracker and your DNA. If the insurance company now has so much data about you that it can accurately predict car accidents, ill-health and death, the amount of risk actually taken by the insurance company is minimized, and the risk is thrown back onto the individual who is perceived (fairly or unfairly) as a high-risk.

In her latest book, Shoshana Zuboff describes how insurance companies are using the latest technologies, including the Internet of Things, not only to monitor drivers but also to control them.
Telematics are not intended merely to know but also to do (economics of action). They are hammers; they are muscular; they enforce. Behavioral underwriting promises to reduce risk through machine processes designed to modify behavior in the direction of maximum profitability. Behavioral surplus is used to trigger punishments, such as real-time rate hikes, financial penalties, curfews, and engine lockdowns, or rewards, such as rate discounts, coupons, and gold stars to redeem for future benefits. The consultancy firm AT Kearney anticipates 'IoT enriched relationships' to connect 'more holistically' with customers 'to influence their behaviors'. (p215)

So much for risk sharing then. Surely this undermines the whole point of insurance?



Sami Coll, Consumption as Biopower: Governing Bodies with Loyalty Cards, (Journal of Consumer Culture 13(3) 2013) pp 210-220

Caley Horan, Actuarial age: insurance and the emergence of neoliberalism in the postwar United States (PhD Thesis 2011)

Joi Ito, Supposedly ‘Fair’ Algorithms Can Perpetuate Discrimination (Wired Magazine, 5 February 2019) HT @WolfieChristl @zeynep

AT Kearney, The Internet of Things: Opportunity for Insurers (2014)

Cathy O'Neil, How algorithms rule our working lives (The Guardian, 1 September 2016)

Jathan Sadowski, Alarmed by Admiral's data grab? Wait until insurers can see the contents of your fridge (The Guardian, 2 November 2016)

Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (Profile Books 2019) esp pages 212-218


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Foucault

Related posts: The Transparency of Algorithms (October 2016) Pay as you Share (November 2016), Shoshana Zuboff on Surveillance Capitalism (Book Review, February 2019)

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Polarization

Some of my posts recently have mentioned the work of @zeynep and others on the polarizing effects of social media platforms, especially YouTube.

But this phenomenon is not restricted to the Internet: traditional mass media is subject to similar effects. Following an extraordinary confrontation between CNN and the White House, Michael Massing reviews CNN's political coverage and finds it to be extremely one-sided. It appears that Trump and CNN each benefits from constantly attacking the other. Massing calls this codependency, but I believe a more accurate term would be symmetrical schismogenesis. This concept, originally developed by Bateson and elaborated by some of his followers including Jackson and Watzlawick, refers to the situation where two parties mirror each other, the behaviour of each serving to reinforce the behaviour of the other.

Who benefits from this polarization? The media platforms (YouTube, CNN) are essentially selling eyeballs to companies that want to advertise stuff. This is not just about the number of eyeballs but the number of eyeballs in relevant demographic categories. Thus for example gender or socioeconomic polarization may be helpful to this mission if it helps produce an audience that is particularly receptive to whatever is being advertised. However, polarization can also produce effects that are unwelcome to risk-averse advertisers - for example, associating their brands with controversial content, or even exposing them to the risk of consumer boycotts.

Writing in 2013, Markus Prior notes the correlation between cable news consumption and political polarization, but also notes the way that increasing choice on cable networks allows non-partisan viewers to avoid watching cable news altogether. Thus the apparent polarization would appear to be a consequence of a self-selecting audience.

Massing regards CNN's coverage of Trump as "seeming uninformative, repetitive, and nakedly partisan". This echoes a more widespread complaint about 24 hour rolling news: that it fills the airwaves with endless chatter (which Heidegger called Gerede and the Lacanians call Empty Speech.)

On cable news, there are two feedback loops that reinforce this phenomenon. Firstly, the partisanship alienates non-partisan viewers, thus further concentrating the audience. Secondly, people with genuine knowledge and insight quickly discover that the platform doesn't give them a fair opportunity to communicate to an open-minded audience, and therefore abandon the platform in favour of those who are happy to spout dogma on a variety of topics.

On YouTube, these two feedback loops are less in evidence. There is a wealth of good content on YouTube if you know where to look, including Zeynep Tufekci herself talking about this very phenomenon. (But just compare the numbers of views of selected videos on different channels.)
(view numbers as shown on 10 November 2018)


Update (March 2019)

@charlesarthur observes that even politicians aren't always immune to the polarizing effects of social media. He suggests that the closed WhatsApp groups now favoured by all political factions are radicalising their members "so they egg each other on to take more and more extreme positions", and notes that this kind of effect has been understood for a long time. He references Cass Sunstein's 1999 paper on the Law of Group Polarization.

Incidentally, Sunstein is also known for his work on Nudge Theory, which is usually described in terms of nudging people in a beneficial direction. But the psychological mechanisms of the nudge would appear to work in any direction.




Charles Arthur, Social media polarises and radicalises – and MPs aren’t immune to its effects (Guardian 11 March 2019)

Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972)

Michael Massing, Trump and CNN: Case History of an Unhealthy Codependency (NYR Daily, 9 November 2018)

Markus Prior, Media and Political Polarization (Annu. Rev. Polit. Sci. 2013. 16:101–27)

Jeff Sorensen, 24 Hour News Killed Journalism (HuffPost 20 August 2012)

Cass Sunstein, The Law of Group Polarization (John M. Olin Program in Law and Economics Working Paper No. 91, 1999)

Paul Watzlawick, Janet Beavin Bavelas and Don D. Jackson, Pragmatics of Human Communication

Wikipedia: Nudge Theory, Schismogenesis

Additional references in the following posts

Ethical Communication in a Digital Age (November 2018)
YouTube Growth Hacking (November 2018)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Fillan in the Ditch

"This is exactly what government is for" writes @BBCPhilipSim, "the administration of a communal resource; a complex task which nobody seems to want to take responsibility for. It concerns property both public and private, involves taxation, and there are a myriad of disputes over who should have to pay and how much. This is precisely what elected representatives are for."

As he says, it's textbook stuff. Pity that all the politicians who read Politics or History at university didn't bother reading that particular textbook, as they seem more interested in "the thunder and fury of constitutional rammies and increasingly partisan rows" than taking care of things as dull as ditches. (Did someone say gutter politics?)

What has St Fillan got to do with this, I hear you cry? According to legend, the ditch in question was built by Robert the Bruce in gratitude for the miraculous appearance of St Fillan's arm-bone, which inspired the Scots to overcome the English at the battle of Bannockburn. (No humerus jokes, thank you.)

It would probably take another such miracle for the forces of common sense to overcome the British Conservative party at the battle of Brexit. Leaving the EU appears to be a complex task, with a myriad of disputes, that none of the Europhobes in the amusingly named "European Research Group" wants to take responsibility for.




Philip Sim, Dull as Ditchwater? Inside Holyrood's forgotten committee (BBC News 24 October 2018)

Wikipedia: Saint Fillan


Sunday, January 07, 2018

Capitalism and Witchcraft

According to a new paper, "big data evidence suggests that the English language area was not capitalist between 1800 and 2000" (via @kvistgaard).

The authors analyse the occurrence of "pertinent keywords" found in Google Books from the period in question. As far as I can see from the abstract, the keywords are selected on the assumption that capitalism can be associated "with any form of over-average importance or even dominance of the economy" .

The argument appears to be that an era is capitalist only if people are strongly conscious of the economy and of certain economic phenomena, and that this consciousness is reflected in the literature of the time.

This doesn't allow either for the possibility that people didn't talk about capitalism because they took it for granted, or for the possibility that they were suffering what Engels called "false consciousness". (Marx is often credited with this concept, but he never used the term himself.) Foucault showed how the Victorians thought differently about certain things (such as discipline and sexuality) but that doesn't mean those things didn't exist.

It is also worth noting that the literature that is preserved in Google Books may not fairly represent different social classes. As Ruth Livesey comments in relation to a different collection, "although there is much to be learned about middle-class life ... relative few that give central place to class".

What about the reverse argument? The religious authorities were obsessed with witchcraft between 1550 and 1700, particularly in Germany and Scotland, and King James VI of Scotland wrote a treatise on witchcraft. So if we analysed "pertinent keywords" (not to mention the "necessary hashtags"), we might be able to "prove" that witchcraft was more prevalent than capitalism in this period.

However, as @kvistgaard points out ...





Yasmeen Ahmad, How Much Of Data Science Is Witchcraft? (Forbes 5 May 2016)

Jamie Doward, Why Europe’s wars of religion put 40,000 ‘witches’ to a terrible death (Observer 7 January 2018)

Alex Hern, Minister explains Rudd's 'necessary hashtags' after week of confusion (Guardian 4 April 2017) - not really relevant to this post, but included to explain the side-reference to necessary hashtags

Barbara Humphries, Nineteenth century pamphlets online (The ephemerist, 153, Summer 2011).

Daniel Little, False Consciousness (University of Michigan-Dearborn, undated)

Ruth Livesey, Class (Oxford Bibliographies, March 2011)

Steffen Roth, Vladislav Valentinov, Ar┼źnas Augustinaitis, Artur Mkrtichyan, Jari Kaivo-oja, Was that capitalism? A future-oriented big data analysis of the English language area in the 19th and 20th century (Futures, Volume 94, November 2017, pages 1-84)

updated 28 June 2020

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Witnessing Machines Built in Secret

#amtsb @proto_type's current performance work, which I caught at the South Bank Centre in London this weekend, is called A Machine They're Secretly Building. The title comes from a warning by Edward Snowden, as reported by Glen Greenwald.

"I can't in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they're secretly building."

As I filed out of the performance, I bought a copy of the script, paying with cash rather than credit card (as if that's going to stop THEM knowing I was there). In her introduction, Alwyn Walsh mentions Henry Giroux and the idea of disimagination. Henry Giroux credits this idea to Georges Didi-Huberman who, starting from four photographs taken by Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau, had offered an extended and profound meditation on the status of the image as a means of historical analysis. Giroux's version of the politics of disimagination refers to images (and also institutions, discourses, and other modes of representation) "that undermine the capacity of individuals to bear witness to a different and critical sense of remembering, agency, ethics and collective resistance".

According to Giroux, therefore, the disimagination machine "functions primarily to undermine the ability of individuals to think critically, imagine the unimaginable, and engage in thoughtful and critical dialogue: put simply, to become critically informed citizens of the world". Thankfully, Walsh tells us, "this ... is what theatre and performance is so perfectly equipped to challenge".

So the Proto-type show aims to bear witness about what is going on. As the audience files into the performance space, we see two women dressed in black, with pink balaclavas. And a large screen facing the audience. One of the women is facing a camera: her face (or what we can see of it) is shown on the screen. As the show progresses, the screen (which has equal billing with the human characters in the script) also displays text and documentary fragments, apparently offering "facts" to illustrate or substantiate the shifting subjective voices of the human characters - sometimes resigned acceptance, sometimes angry protest - exploring the conflict between the security narrative (normal, law-abiding citizens versus terrorists, "keeping you safe") and the privacy narrative (state surveillance versus private individuals with rich inner lives). At the climax of the show, the screen shows the audience, with random members marked with green and red rectangles as if indicating targets of suspicion, perhaps based on behaviour or backstory. (From a technology point of view this looked pretty unsophisticated, but from a dramatic point of view it was sufficient to provoke audience discomfort.)

But if THEY are secretly building a machine, who exactly is THEY?

For Edward Snowden and Proto-type, THEY means governments - mostly the British and American governments, although Pussy Riot is referenced both in the script and in the pink balaclavas. But of course the power behind the machine could also be Google or Facebook, which might possibly (but how would I know?) be much more powerful than those of mere governments.

 And if the machine was so secret, how could such a machine affect "the ability of individuals to think critically, imagine the unimaginable, and engage in thoughtful and critical dialogue"? Surely a much more dangerous machine would be one that seduced people into suspending their critical imagination, a machine that presented us with apparently objective facts, a machine that persuaded us to think with the majority - or at least what it told us was the majority view. (Surely that couldn't happen here?)


In his essay on the relationship between coercion and consent, Walter Streek refers to
"a huge machinery of coercion, easily the largest and most expensive in history, maintained in readiness for the state of emergency that may one day have to be called"
and chimes with Proto-type in suggesting that cover for the growth of this machinery is provided by the "war on terror", 
 "waged to enable the masses to continue living their pressured lives of competitive production and consumption".

In his 2011 documentary, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (#AWOBMOLG), Adam Curtis presented a powerful dialectic about technological capitalism. Although there were some logical flaws in his argument, as I pointed out at the time, I think Curtis was correct in identifying some of the key trends, as well as pointing at the multiple centres of power - for example, Madison Avenue, Silicon Valley, Wall Street and Washington. The multiple centres of power (media, technology, corporate, state) were also explored (with rather more academic rigour) at the Power Switch conference in Cambridge in March 2017.

A Machine They're Secretly Building is darker than Curtis (if that were possible) and more narrowly focused. But although one may be justifiably alarmed by state surveillance, the disimagination effect is arguably wreaked more by corporate surveillance, hashtag #YouAreTheProduct. So I'm looking forward to their next show, which I understand will be on economics.






Georges Didi-Huberman, Images in Spite of All: Four Photographs from Auschwitz (Trans. Shane B. Lillis. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008) review by Paul B Jaskot in Journal of Jewish Identities Issue 3, Number 2, July 2010 pp. 93-95

Henry A. Giroux, The Politics of Disimagination and the Pathologies of Power (Truth Out, 27 February 2013)

Glen Greenwald et al, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations (Guardian, 11 June 2013)

Laura James, Power Switch - Conference Report (31 March 2017) - liveblog of CRASSH PowerSwitch Conference

Wolfgang Streeck, You need a gun (London Review of Books, 14 December 2017) (subscribers only)

Richard Veryard, All Chewed Over By Machines (26 May 2011) - review of Adam Curtis.
See also Pax Technica (24 November 2017), IOT is coming to town (3 December 2017), Shoshana Zuboff on Surveillance Capitalism (February 2019)

Aylwyn Walsh, Staging the Radical Potential of the Imagination: A Critical Introduction to A Machine they’re Secretly Building (via Academia.edu, undated)

Andrew Westerside and Proto-type Theatre, A Machine they’re Secretly Building (Oberon Modern Plays, 2017)


updated 18 December 2017

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Why This Stupid Behaviour?

@NateSilver538 argues that the simple explanation for the US president's outbursts (that he has poor impulse control and/or is bigoted) is (sometimes, usually) right.

The alternative explanation generally references some positive outcome for Trump. Silver mentions a few popular theories.
  • shoring up his base
  • questioning bias and fairness
  • driving a wedge between the Trumpian and the Republican establishment
  • distracting the media from other, more serious issues 
Silver's argument is based on the fact that some of his outbursts don't appear to produce the desired result. But there are some further considerations to bear in mind.

Firstly, when Trump appears to do something stupid or selfish, this prompts a barrage of criticism from various quarters. Some voices are consistently anti-Trump, while others (including conservative media channels, members of the Republican establishment and his own administration) will firmly distance themselves from his more outrageous pronouncements. This helps to reassure Trump's base that he remains an anti-establishment champion and is not getting swamped by Washington.

Thus the desired effects may follow from the response to Trump rather than directly from Trump's own words and deeds. This suggests a delay before the effect is visible in Silver's data. This leads to my second point: there are always some effects cannot be reliably detected in real-time, and there may be some effects will never be detectable to Silver. That doesn't mean that the effects aren't real. Just because Silver can't detect a strategy doesn't mean there isn't a strategy. Maybe Trump isn't one step ahead of the media, maybe he's three steps ahead.

Thirdly, what matters is not the effect of a single outburst, or even a series of outbursts on a single topic, but the cumulative effect. Some say that being inconsistent, volatile, unpredictable is part of his shtick.

So what is the explanation for this inconsistency? Psychologists regard arbitrary and unpredictable inconsistency as a sign of emotional abuse, while mathematician Cathy O'Neil observes the similarity between Trump's behaviour and a machine learning algorithm.

Even if Silver is right about the intent and motivation of Trump's behaviour, that doesn't fully explain it. Just dismissing Trump as stupid or bigoted is not a sufficient explanation, because there are many stupid and bigoted people who do not behave quite like Trump. What is special in Trump's case is that there are some feedback loops that strongly reinforce these particular behaviour patterns, because they have produced the desired outcomes in the recent past.

Trump's worldview (Weltanschauung) causes him to pick up certain signals and ignore others. In terms of second-order cybernetics, we can view Trump as an autopoietic system (Maturana, Varela), within which the outcome-based theory and the impulse-base theory are not mutually incompatible after all, but are connected via closed feedback loops.




Cathy O'Neil, Donald Trump's Path-Independent Theory of Mind (Bloomberg, 21 May 2017)

Nate Silver, The Media Needs To Stop Rationalizing President Trump’s Behavior (FiveThirtyEight, 30 September 2017)

Wikipedia: Autopoiesis, Psychological Abuse

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

What Does Google Do?

@ManuKumar complains about the obscurity of certain websites.
So how do you figure out what Google does? Google itself suggests I look at an article by @JoannaG in the @Guardian.



But the article is over five years old. It's what Google once did.


So let's have another go. What does Google actually do?



It's the world's largest bus shelter? No seriously, what does Google really do?


So it makes their algorithm reward marketers? It's really that simple?




Joanna Geary, Google: What is it and what does it do? (Guardian, 23 April 2012)

Greg McFarlane, How Does Google Make Its Money? (Investopedia, 22 November 2012)

Relevance Blog, What Does Google Really Do? (10 June 2013)

https://www.google.com/about/