Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Reinforcing Stereotypes

Google reflects the cumulative errors and distortions of the Internet. Several people (I got it from Radovan - see also Blogoscoped) have recently noticed that if you type "she invented" into Google, you are presented with a suggested modification: Did you mean "he invented"? So I tried some variations.
  • "he chatted" - Did you mean "he created"?
  • "she boring" - Did you mean "he boring"?
  • "she time-wasting" - Did you mean "he time-wasting"?

I tried some other search engines. None of the others I tried has this helpful feature. I'd better get back to work ... 


A related story about a boy whose mother wanted to call him Kohler Wilson, so that he would have a good Google rating. (I got it from Barry, see also Marc Perton.) Did you mean Reptiles of Central America, by Gunther Kohler and Larry David Wilson?

Comment March 2022

Early indications of search engine bias, some years before Safiya Noble and others started to research the hidden gender and racial bias in these algorithms.

Whenever she speaks anywhere, I try to find the recording on YouTube. But after I’ve watched it, the YouTube algorithm invariably decides what I should watch next is some white dude’s TED talk. I try not to overuse the word “ironic”, but I think it is fair to use it here.

Safiya Noble, Algorithms of Oppression (New York University Press, 2018)

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