Principia Discordia

Principia Discordia => Aneristic Illusions => Topic started by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 29, 2017, 09:16:29 pm

Title: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 29, 2017, 09:16:29 pm
Yes. Yes, they are.

https://www.splcenter.org/20170118/google-and-miseducation-dylann-roof

This article highlights one of the many problems with Google search ranking, and the way the site uses preferential ranking to show you results it thinks you will "like" based on what sites you spend the most time on -- it reinforces whatever the user already believes, exacerbating confirmation bias. This is why, when debating people about certain topics, it often appears as if they literally exist in a different world with different facts. Google is helping to polarize public opinion on controversial topics.

I think that search engine customization is, potentially, going to continue to widen social gaps and badly needs to be regulated. If you think about it, it means that the primary gateway to information for all Americans is being selectively censored - soft censoring via result ranking, but censored nonetheless - per individual. The censorship is naturally going to fall along socioeconomic lines. That means, literally, that the information Google presents a poor black user will be qualitatively different from the information Google presents a wealthy white user.

Search results are customized based on past searches and the time spent on web pages. Therefore, customized search results are tailored to an individual's previous exposure to websites. The filtering is not purposely based on race or class, but the natural net effect is the same as if it were. Essentially, someone who reads about alternative medicine will get more alternative medicine websites, and when they search a topic, those websites will be prioritized in their search results. Over time, the cumulative effect will be that they are less likely to be exposed to consensus science and medicine, and may even be functionally unable to find articles that offer science-based views because their results are so heavily weighted toward woo. A black person is more likely to gravitate toward articles, and therefore sites, that support their perspective. Likewise with a white person, as exemplified by Dylann Roof in the linked article. The net result is that individual customization of search results reinforces and even creates polarization around ideas and values.  In my opinion, this is profoundly unethical, harmful, and a threat to social stability.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: LuciferX on January 29, 2017, 09:55:39 pm
Yes. Yes, they are.

https://www.splcenter.org/20170118/google-and-miseducation-dylann-roof

This article highlights one of the many problems with Google search ranking, and the way the site uses preferential ranking to show you results it thinks you will "like" based on what sites you spend the most time on -- it reinforces whatever the user already believes, exacerbating confirmation bias. This is why, when debating people about certain topics, it often appears as if they literally exist in a different world with different facts. Google is helping to polarize public opinion on controversial topics.

I think that search engine customization is, potentially, going to continue to widen social gaps and badly needs to be regulated. If you think about it, it means that the primary gateway to information for all Americans is being selectively censored - soft censoring via result ranking, but censored nonetheless - per individual. The censorship is naturally going to fall along socioeconomic lines. That means, literally, that the information Google presents a poor black user will be qualitatively different from the information Google presents a wealthy white user.

Search results are customized based on past searches and the time spent on web pages. Therefore, customized search results are tailored to an individual's previous exposure to websites. The filtering is not purposely based on race or class, but the natural net effect is the same as if it were. Essentially, someone who reads about alternative medicine will get more alternative medicine websites, and when they search a topic, those websites will be prioritized in their search results. Over time, the cumulative effect will be that they are less likely to be exposed to consensus science and medicine, and may even be functionally unable to find articles that offer science-based views because their results are so heavily weighted toward woo. A black person is more likely to gravitate toward articles, and therefore sites, that support their perspective. Likewise with a white person, as exemplified by Dylann Roof in the linked article. The net result is that individual customization of search results reinforces and even creates polarization around ideas and values.  In my opinion, this is profoundly unethical, harmful, and a threat to social stability.

Ethically difficult question.  Once previous results start informing the things for which I search, then it is difficult for me to hold Entity culpable of providing me with what I want.  Would have to raise question to second order: is this really what I want to want?  Then polemic becomes similar to that of addiction.  Should I be free to engage in an activity that may prevent me from thinking/acting freely?  At first glance it may seem logically unethical/irrational to support such contradiction.  The problem is that most are not willing to accept that they may engage in an activity that robs them of their ability to do otherwise.  In particular when the mechanism is such that the subject is made to believe that they formulated and reinforced the point of view for themselves, they will take their bias very seriously.  A wrong idea that nonetheless confirms that bias will be held in higher esteem than any incongruent truth.  Unfortunately this kind of understanding usually requires experiencing something like Trump becoming President of the United States.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 29, 2017, 10:09:32 pm
Yes. Yes, they are.

https://www.splcenter.org/20170118/google-and-miseducation-dylann-roof

This article highlights one of the many problems with Google search ranking, and the way the site uses preferential ranking to show you results it thinks you will "like" based on what sites you spend the most time on -- it reinforces whatever the user already believes, exacerbating confirmation bias. This is why, when debating people about certain topics, it often appears as if they literally exist in a different world with different facts. Google is helping to polarize public opinion on controversial topics.

I think that search engine customization is, potentially, going to continue to widen social gaps and badly needs to be regulated. If you think about it, it means that the primary gateway to information for all Americans is being selectively censored - soft censoring via result ranking, but censored nonetheless - per individual. The censorship is naturally going to fall along socioeconomic lines. That means, literally, that the information Google presents a poor black user will be qualitatively different from the information Google presents a wealthy white user.

Search results are customized based on past searches and the time spent on web pages. Therefore, customized search results are tailored to an individual's previous exposure to websites. The filtering is not purposely based on race or class, but the natural net effect is the same as if it were. Essentially, someone who reads about alternative medicine will get more alternative medicine websites, and when they search a topic, those websites will be prioritized in their search results. Over time, the cumulative effect will be that they are less likely to be exposed to consensus science and medicine, and may even be functionally unable to find articles that offer science-based views because their results are so heavily weighted toward woo. A black person is more likely to gravitate toward articles, and therefore sites, that support their perspective. Likewise with a white person, as exemplified by Dylann Roof in the linked article. The net result is that individual customization of search results reinforces and even creates polarization around ideas and values.  In my opinion, this is profoundly unethical, harmful, and a threat to social stability.

Ethically difficult question.  Once previous results start informing the things for which I search, then it is difficult for me to hold Entity culpable of providing me with what I want.  Would have to raise question to second order: is this really what I want to want?  Then polemic becomes similar to that of addiction.  Should I be free to engage in an activity that may prevent me from thinking/acting freely?  At first glance it may seem logically unethical/irrational to support such contradiction.  The problem is that most are not willing to accept that they may engage in an activity that robs them of their ability to do otherwise.  In particular when the mechanism is such that the subject is made to believe that they formulated and reinforced the point of view for themselves, they will take their bias very seriously.  A wrong idea that nonetheless confirms that bias will be held in higher esteem than any incongruent truth.  Unfortunately this kind of understanding usually requires experiencing something like Trump becoming President of the United States.

I can't tell if this is satire, or actual philosophical masturbation. If the latter, you left out consent.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Faust on January 30, 2017, 12:04:46 am
One of the worst that directly impacts me has been when I am searching for C# or code related stuff, and I come home and searches start pushing those.

I've started using duck duck go for home use and google for work.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on January 30, 2017, 02:36:02 am
This is absolutely a problem. I don't think anyone on a design team has really considered what a horrifying problem it really is. Understandably, they are solving a problem, and they're solving it extremely efficiently. But it establishes a pattern that's dangerously myopic. Policymakers aren't really at fault for it, because they're so woefully uneducated in these technologies that they themselves are very likely to be just as victimized by the phenomenon as anyone else. It takes a truly analytical mind, or constant exposure to the mechanics of this technology, to even notice that it's happening, much less divine what its context and effects are or formulate some kind of response to it.

And it isn't limited to search engines. Because nearly all social media interactions are recorded and fed into these algorithms, the existing tendency of people to surround themselves with like minds and submerge themselves into impenetrable echo chambers is magnified. The entire system of search engines, social media outlets, and targeted ads becomes a self-healing network that not only reinforces existing opinion, but by exposing those opinions only to compatible opinions, the only viable evolution of ideas is in the direction of extremization. So not only are we being corralled into communities where we are unlikely to encounter information that contradicts any false beliefs we have, we are also being pushed into accepting more and more extreme iterations of those beliefs. And because of the way the algorithms, work, the more inquisitive and curious you are to discover and counter this phenomenon, the harder you'll be pushed.

So, is this happening? Definitely. What can we do about it? I have absolutely no idea. "Trolling" works to at least break into echo chambers, but the immune systems of these communities tends to eventually reject the troll and plaster over the wound with even more extreme beliefs. Memes can spread, but are mostly limited to preaching to the choir. I believe, although lacking any real education in sociology I am likely very wrong, that the only thing that can really have an impact is some organization dedicated to learning about the algorithms that reinforce this ecosystem and designing memes that are capable of spreading across ideological boundaries. What that would look like (or if it's even a meaningful idea) I don't know.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 30, 2017, 03:29:09 am
If I were a social scientist, I could write a thesis paper on it and possibly expand it into a book, which would possibly reach enough people that it might exert pressure to regulate search customization.

But I'm not. Though I'm thinking that epidemiology might be a good direction to go in for the public policy leverage.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on January 30, 2017, 04:23:53 am
I've had a good Hard Think about this.

I think the issue is there's a huge Market incentive to keep things as they are, and the extremists appropriate or disavow anything that makes it through the informational/ideological firewall. In the cases of class/race/gender lines on search results, with /those/ you might be able to make a dent with stuff like V3X's meme concept, but I don't know if that would be enough? In fact, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be -- it's passing minimalist information, by its nature nearly content free, and otherwise the divide abides. That does nothing to mix the info up the way it should be mixed up.

The only real solution in such a case is to torch it. Everyone gets the same search results, period, no matter who they are. I don't see any way around it. I also know that won't happen because the Market has Demands and they shall be met. It'd take a big push to overwhelm that juggernaut.

All I can think of? There should be classes. "How to use Google-fu to bypass unintentionally self-imposed information firewalls on search results." That's something you could spread, if you found the right person and the right vehicle to disseminate it. And that might be useful, in a sense. It wouldn't be enough, but I can't think of anything that would be that's also in the ballpark of our personal little bad future.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on January 30, 2017, 04:24:24 am
As an aside, beyond the horrific implications of this, I think it's fascinating that we are now very much constructing The Machine™ in a very literal sense, thousands of people are even intimately aware of the exact source code of it and how it works, and probably very few people even see what it is, or what it does in its real social context. I know personally a few people who work on exactly these type of systems, and the last thing they want to do is reinforce injustice or stop the flow of information. In their minds, they are doing what they do precisely because information does not flow freely enough, or the because right information doesn't make it to the right people. I've mentioned this sort of effect to them before, not exactly in these terms but along the same lines, and their response is the sort of "can't see the forest for the trees" thing that you'd expect from people who aren't negatively impacted by any of this, at least not visibly. They can find anything they want on Google, even things that Google would otherwise bury somewhere on page 60, but they're so fluent in that strange Google Search language you pick up after a while that it's second nature to them and it doesn't really register with them that there are millions of people who aren't that intentional with their searches.

It's possible that it's more than just the way Google handles information as a clearing house. Like the particular and nuanced syntax to tell Google what you're looking for that escapes most people, our information-overload society is forcing the evolution of information  itself so that metadata and context are now as integral to messaging as the content itself. The way that information flows from point to point is becoming a language of its own. Google could make every effort to design its algorithms so that conflicting or "verified" information overrides at least part of the user's history and preferences (and at least some people in Google now recognize the need for that and are actively working toward that), but unless the user is at least somewhat fluent in the methodology of searching intentionally, and they actually choose to do that, any aberrant information will be dismissed and forgotten anyway.

I'm probably getting a little woo-woo over it at the moment so I'm going to spend more time thinking.

Awesome topic to bring up though!
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on January 30, 2017, 04:38:47 am
snip

It's possible that it's more than just the way Google handles information as a clearing house. Like the particular and nuanced syntax to tell Google what you're looking for that escapes most people, our information-overload society is forcing the evolution of information  itself so that metadata and context are now as integral to messaging as the content itself. The way that information flows from point to point is becoming a language of its own. Google could make every effort to design its algorithms so that conflicting or "verified" information overrides at least part of the user's history and preferences (and at least some people in Google now recognize the need for that and are actively working toward that), but unless the user is at least somewhat fluent in the methodology of searching intentionally, and they actually choose to do that, any aberrant information will be dismissed and forgotten anyway.

I'm probably getting a little woo-woo over it at the moment so I'm going to spend more time thinking.

Awesome topic to bring up though!

This doesn't seem woo-woo at all -- it's a lot like what I was saying. Realistically, the sensible solution (without trying to say that the Murikin Free Market needs to not let those silly consumers box themselves in informationally) is education on a level that can be spread around -- e.g., teaching search engine syntax and how to parse what a given set of search results tells you about the quality of the search terms you used.

It is fascinating that these things are happening, and I can see how you'd get the woo vibe from that kinda masturbatory this-is-so-cool "look" to it -- but when you frame things like that for yourself you're suggesting a problem space, and that gives you an idea of some of the difficulties you can work around and how to go about it, which is just as important as actually finding those solutions.

You can find a needle in a haystack quite easily if you know roughly where in the haystack it should be.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on January 30, 2017, 04:56:13 am

This doesn't seem woo-woo at all -- it's a lot like what I was saying. Realistically, the sensible solution (without trying to say that the Murikin Free Market needs to not let those silly consumers box themselves in informationally) is education on a level that can be spread around -- e.g., teaching search engine syntax and how to parse what a given set of search results tells you about the quality of the search terms you used.

It is fascinating that these things are happening, and I can see how you'd get the woo vibe from that kinda masturbatory this-is-so-cool "look" to it -- but when you frame things like that for yourself you're suggesting a problem space, and that gives you an idea of some of the difficulties you can work around and how to go about it, which is just as important as actually finding those solutions.

You can find a needle in a haystack quite easily if you know roughly where in the haystack it should be.

I know it's not woo in that it's technically relevant information, but it's a little woo in that it isn't very "actionable" (to use a word I hate). It's easy to jump into the deep end and start exploring and describing the problem rather than get one's bearings and find the way to an objective. We could start training people to search better, but in order for that to do any good, they need to realize there's a problem with the information they're already getting. Maybe that's where the "memes" would come in (and by "meme" I mean any contagious thought or action, not necessarily the classic "picture with text overlay" media).
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on January 30, 2017, 05:18:38 am
I know what's meant by meme, for the record. Not getting snippy, just establishing that as a baseline, I'm about where everyone else on PD is in terms of understanding.

From where I'm at, there's no good solution that presents itself. The problem is enormous, ridiculously huge, and you'd have to move a lot of really dumb people. Like, start with Trump's current supporters, as in the ones who make up the positive portion of his incredibly low approval rating -- they're fanatics, by and large. They're not necessarily the type of person we want to reach, but take it as an example of the difficulty of it.

Now you tell them, somehow, that their methods of getting information are flawed. Yeah? And they'll either agree with you by way of assuming the message isn't meant for them and ignore it ("yup and that's why I get my news from Alex Jones!") or they'll disagree with you viciously and ignore it ("brainwashed by the MSM!"). Either way, you have failed. That's with the meme method.

The thing about the teaching method without the meme is you can frame it in terms of finding out about music, books, movies, etc. Or finding people on Facebook they like. Etc. And then it's "neutral" to take in, but it can (and usually will) be applied to everything -- because it increases the quality of information with everything. The True Believers are genuinely beyond reach still, sure. The curious, disillusioned and highly misinformed have a chance at realizing they're still getting fed trash -- which is better than when they do what they've been told is the right thing and either dismiss it and ignore it, or agree with what they think it says without examining it, leading to a net total of zero change.

If you think you can get behind an automated defense system like that with the right meme, then that's great. We need something like that desperately. But I've tried with a fair few of these people and their thought processes on these matters are impenetrable. Bulletproof. I have no reason to believe extremists of any other stripe would be any easier to properly break open.

Now when you leave the extremist camp, you hit the other side of the issue, socioeconomic/racial/gender/LGBT/etc divides. Which Nigel mentioned in the first post and which is, absolutely, equally important. And there, yes, a meme could do some good paired with the teaching, definitely. But if you can find the right vehicle to reach out (think of how viral stuff starts -- the exponential point happens after a Big Name tosses it out there), the meme either becomes unnecessary or it has become the vehicle.

I'm just not used to the idea of educational memes. Generally they're about entertainment or the Weird, and I can't think of a way to frame this as either of those. Can you think of any examples of educational memes? Genuinely curious, they could provide a model to work with.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on January 30, 2017, 05:29:04 am
I don't actually think memes will be very useful except maybe as a way in. After that, it's done all it's going to do and pushing it will only -- at best -- replicate the foothold. It won't convey any content. At worst, it'll overstay the entire method's welcome and implode the whole attempt.

What you say about turning a thought process based on interests is interesting, because that's exactly the basis for the system as it is now. I suppose if time, expertise, and other resources were no issue, it might be possible to use the algorithms against themselves somehow. This approach wouldn't actually work as stated here, but imagine some dedicated effort to convince Google or Facebook algorithms that right-wingers really loved reading Snopes or were huge fans of the novels 1984 and Brave New World. I see a possible way of "infiltrating" the identity of a group and subtly tweaking the established "you might also like" defaults. Of course, to be any good at it you'd need a huge number of simultaneous users doing this on purpose and a deep understanding of how the algorithms collect and consume information.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on January 30, 2017, 05:41:46 am
I think I need to sleep on this. I'm not currently able to articulate my problem with memes as a way in, I'm just repeating myself in ever more lengthy words.

That's a me problem, not an argument/discussion problem -- this will be productive, I'm just not helping it along right now.

I'll come back to it though.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: LuciferX on January 30, 2017, 07:05:10 am
Yes. Yes, they are.

https://www.splcenter.org/20170118/google-and-miseducation-dylann-roof

This article highlights one of the many problems with Google search ranking, and the way the site uses preferential ranking to show you results it thinks you will "like" based on what sites you spend the most time on -- it reinforces whatever the user already believes, exacerbating confirmation bias. This is why, when debating people about certain topics, it often appears as if they literally exist in a different world with different facts. Google is helping to polarize public opinion on controversial topics.

I think that search engine customization is, potentially, going to continue to widen social gaps and badly needs to be regulated. If you think about it, it means that the primary gateway to information for all Americans is being selectively censored - soft censoring via result ranking, but censored nonetheless - per individual. The censorship is naturally going to fall along socioeconomic lines. That means, literally, that the information Google presents a poor black user will be qualitatively different from the information Google presents a wealthy white user.

Search results are customized based on past searches and the time spent on web pages. Therefore, customized search results are tailored to an individual's previous exposure to websites. The filtering is not purposely based on race or class, but the natural net effect is the same as if it were. Essentially, someone who reads about alternative medicine will get more alternative medicine websites, and when they search a topic, those websites will be prioritized in their search results. Over time, the cumulative effect will be that they are less likely to be exposed to consensus science and medicine, and may even be functionally unable to find articles that offer science-based views because their results are so heavily weighted toward woo. A black person is more likely to gravitate toward articles, and therefore sites, that support their perspective. Likewise with a white person, as exemplified by Dylann Roof in the linked article. The net result is that individual customization of search results reinforces and even creates polarization around ideas and values.  In my opinion, this is profoundly unethical, harmful, and a threat to social stability.

Ethically difficult question.  Once previous results start informing the things for which I search, then it is difficult for me to hold Entity culpable of providing me with what I want.  Would have to raise question to second order: is this really what I want to want?  Then polemic becomes similar to that of addiction.  Should I be free to engage in an activity that may prevent me from thinking/acting freely?  At first glance it may seem logically unethical/irrational to support such contradiction.  The problem is that most are not willing to accept that they may engage in an activity that robs them of their ability to do otherwise.  In particular when the mechanism is such that the subject is made to believe that they formulated and reinforced the point of view for themselves, they will take their bias very seriously.  A wrong idea that nonetheless confirms that bias will be held in higher esteem than any incongruent truth.  Unfortunately this kind of understanding usually requires experiencing something like Trump becoming President of the United States.

I can't tell if this is satire, or actual philosophical masturbation. If the latter, you left out consent.
Consent would require discernment, which my penis insists would not necessarily result in satire.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: P3nT4gR4m on January 30, 2017, 09:14:58 am
"fragile minds can be shaped by the algorithm that powers Google Search."

Another attempt to blame something for the fact that human compute is piss poor on a good day. It's always google or facebook or television or rock'n'roll or magazines promoting waif-like models...

If you examine everything except the problem, don't be surprised when your solutions don't fix it. :roll:
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Vanadium Gryllz on January 30, 2017, 10:29:51 am
"fragile minds can be shaped by the algorithm that powers Google Search."

Another attempt to blame something for the fact that human compute is piss poor on a good day. It's always google or facebook or television or rock'n'roll or magazines promoting waif-like models...

If you examine everything except the problem, don't be surprised when your solutions don't fix it. :roll:

So you're saying the problem isn't Google/Facebook whatever enabling an echo chamber of search results but that humans (in general) are too myopic to see that they're being shown only one side of the story?

On a related note, this discussion makes me wonder what kind of customised searches I (and other PDers) see based on our historical internet profiles.

Probably a bunch of Guardian links  :|
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: P3nT4gR4m on January 30, 2017, 01:29:03 pm
"fragile minds can be shaped by the algorithm that powers Google Search."

Another attempt to blame something for the fact that human compute is piss poor on a good day. It's always google or facebook or television or rock'n'roll or magazines promoting waif-like models...

If you examine everything except the problem, don't be surprised when your solutions don't fix it. :roll:

So you're saying the problem isn't Google/Facebook whatever enabling an echo chamber of search results but that humans (in general) are too myopic to see that they're being shown only one side of the story?


Precisely. Human skull meat does not process logical reasoning by design. Out the box it's basically nothing more than a prejudice and bias engine. When you look at how it was developed it's pretty obvious why this is so but most people don't look. They just prejudice and bias their way through life constantly patting themselves on the back for how good they are. Thinking rationally is fucking hard work. It's like trying to change a fuse with a paintbrush, you're using a tool that wasn't designed for that job. However our fragile egos demand that we are the greatest talking monkey that ever walked the earth so most of us are inclined to blame the fusebox and not the dumb bastard waving the brush at it.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on January 30, 2017, 02:27:33 pm
Yeah, where I'm at that's the entire problem in the first place, ahah. That's what makes it so intractable -- you have to use the prejudice and bias to somehow make a person's head-pudding want to be less biased and less prejudiced. And you cannot let them know that's what you're doing in the process!

Note, I don't think that means that trying to approach this particular area is a bad thing. In fact, /because/ it's naturally human to be biased and prejudiced should, ideally, /mean/ a reduction of those things in any form of information gathering process used by a majority of the population! Because critical thinking is hard for humans, all the better that we don't directly engage them with stuff that makes them into fascists, radicals, etc. Sure, some of them will be anyway, but this increases outreach for the fringe and decreases the number of healthy sane human beings in the world, by default.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 30, 2017, 03:16:30 pm
Pent, this is why reasonable governments regulate industry. That is literally the point of laws and regulations in society. Because monkeys are pretty bad at taking care of ourselves and making rational decisions as individuals, but we tend to do better when we have social supports and constraints that act as a scaffolding to support reason.

Duh.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: P3nT4gR4m on January 30, 2017, 04:21:27 pm
Pent, this is why reasonable governments regulate industry. That is literally the point of laws and regulations in society. Because monkeys are pretty bad at taking care of ourselves and making rational decisions as individuals, but we tend to do better when we have social supports and constraints that act as a scaffolding to support reason.

Duh.

Google is a pretty new phenomenon, I'd be inclined to give them the opportunity to fix this newfound problem with their service. It would appear that making the sum of all human knowledge instantly available to all humans isn't as straightforward as it sounds on paper. Turns out there's a weak link in the chain and fixing this requires adjusting all the other links in the chain to compensate.

Coincidentally, this is the reason most software engineers fucking loathe end users. :argh!:
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 30, 2017, 04:22:45 pm
Pent, this is why reasonable governments regulate industry. That is literally the point of laws and regulations in society. Because monkeys are pretty bad at taking care of ourselves and making rational decisions as individuals, but we tend to do better when we have social supports and constraints that act as a scaffolding to support reason.

Duh.

Google is a pretty new phenomenon, I'd be inclined to give them the opportunity to fix this newfound problem with their service. It would appear that making the sum of all human knowledge instantly available to all humans isn't as straightforward as it sounds on paper. Turns out there's a weak link in the chain and fixing this requires adjusting all the other links in the chain to compensate.

Coincidentally, this is the reason most software engineers fucking loathe end users. :argh!:

Step one in getting them to fix a problem that makes them a lot of money is making a stink about it. Otherwise, it's not a problem, it's a feature.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on January 30, 2017, 04:47:38 pm
Pent, this is why reasonable governments regulate industry. That is literally the point of laws and regulations in society. Because monkeys are pretty bad at taking care of ourselves and making rational decisions as individuals, but we tend to do better when we have social supports and constraints that act as a scaffolding to support reason.

Duh.

Google is a pretty new phenomenon, I'd be inclined to give them the opportunity to fix this newfound problem with their service. It would appear that making the sum of all human knowledge instantly available to all humans isn't as straightforward as it sounds on paper. Turns out there's a weak link in the chain and fixing this requires adjusting all the other links in the chain to compensate.

Coincidentally, this is the reason most software engineers fucking loathe end users. :argh!:

Step one in getting them to fix a problem that makes them a lot of money is making a stink about it. Otherwise, it's not a problem, it's a feature.

This. Google is at the bleeding edge of technology, but they're still a business. And businesses have a blind spot where profit is concerned. There's no function in Google that is designed to foresee forces outside of their models. Market projections are more or less linear. They can graph demand for their algorithms and they can estimate the work required to make their algorithms meet that demand, but their charts probably lack a red line that says "past this point society collapses".
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 30, 2017, 04:58:37 pm
If anyone's basic attitude is "other people's ignorance/stupidity is not my problem", that's fine. Not everyone has to decide that the health of human social structure is their problem (though if it stops working, it becomes everyone's problem unpleasantly quickly). But I decided that I wanted a career that supports that social scaffolding, so it is, in fact, my problem, because I'm five years and six figures of other people's money into making it my problem. When you accept that much funding on the premise that you're gonna do something to help society, you damn well better hold up your end of the bargain.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: LuciferX on January 31, 2017, 12:11:53 am
As a precedent, in entertainment, food and drugs, we do have federal regulation advisors.  It's difficult for me to envision for the Internet tho w.r.t. how those regulations end up serving political agendas operating under the premise that people ought to be informed in a way that serves their ("correct") particular point of view.  If Entity made a browser that would filter Internet content according to a rating system, I would only trust using it if I thought it had my actual best interests in mind, as opposed to simply confirming my bias (not the easiest distinction to make).  Ironically, the scaffolding might have to use AI to cross-reference the validity (Truth-Value?) of content at a viable pace w.r.t. the rate at which it is generated.  Otherwise, tweaking search results to reveal the hall of mirrors would probably infringe upon a person's reasonable expectation of privacy, among other things.  I must admit that there is something I prefer about that last option, however it's execution is not as clear as a rating system.

Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: P3nT4gR4m on January 31, 2017, 07:05:16 am
If anyone's basic attitude is "other people's ignorance/stupidity is not my problem", that's fine. Not everyone has to decide that the health of human social structure is their problem (though if it stops working, it becomes everyone's problem unpleasantly quickly). But I decided that I wanted a career that supports that social scaffolding, so it is, in fact, my problem, because I'm five years and six figures of other people's money into making it my problem. When you accept that much funding on the premise that you're gonna do something to help society, you damn well better hold up your end of the bargain.

Yeah, I wish you every success. Sincerely. Me, I got nothing. Not even the first idea how to fix this clusterfuck of a civilisation. Overall, I think things might actually be improving but we're kinda exposed here, floating about in space next to a gigantic nuclear reactor, at the mercy of any passing asteroid or ideological kamikaze movement, programmed to die  regardless of if we do everything right or not.

Maybe that's just selfish justification on my part. I figure I've got another good decade in me at best then splat. From experience I know just how fast a decade blinks past. Maybe the world gets better, maybe it doesn't. Maybe I'll be around to see it. Maybe not. Lot of hysterical freaks always yelling about the end of the world. It's some special needs case in the whitehouse this week. Be something else next. If there's a next.

Me, I'm having as much fun as I can get my hands on, for as long as I have hands to get it with. Too busy enjoying myself to freak out about trivial bullshit like the end of the world. As for google and facebook and all the rest, the cloud has the capacity to be a mental prosthetic, same as any information technology, right back to ink on paper. There was a time when the only book was the bible and only the priests could read it.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on January 31, 2017, 07:30:48 am
If anyone's basic attitude is "other people's ignorance/stupidity is not my problem", that's fine. Not everyone has to decide that the health of human social structure is their problem (though if it stops working, it becomes everyone's problem unpleasantly quickly). But I decided that I wanted a career that supports that social scaffolding, so it is, in fact, my problem, because I'm five years and six figures of other people's money into making it my problem. When you accept that much funding on the premise that you're gonna do something to help society, you damn well better hold up your end of the bargain.

Yeah, I wish you every success. Sincerely. Me, I got nothing. Not even the first idea how to fix this clusterfuck of a civilisation. Overall, I think things might actually be improving but we're kinda exposed here, floating about in space next to a gigantic nuclear reactor, at the mercy of any passing asteroid or ideological kamikaze movement, programmed to die  regardless of if we do everything right or not.

Maybe that's just selfish justification on my part. I figure I've got another good decade in me at best then splat. From experience I know just how fast a decade blinks past. Maybe the world gets better, maybe it doesn't. Maybe I'll be around to see it. Maybe not. Lot of hysterical freaks always yelling about the end of the world. It's some special needs case in the whitehouse this week. Be something else next. If there's a next.

Me, I'm having as much fun as I can get my hands on, for as long as I have hands to get it with. Too busy enjoying myself to freak out about trivial bullshit like the end of the world. As for google and facebook and all the rest, the cloud has the capacity to be a mental prosthetic, same as any information technology, right back to ink on paper. There was a time when the only book was the bible and only the priests could read it.

If this can be condensed to 5 words, it'll win that horror story thread.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Q. G. Pennyworth on January 31, 2017, 12:52:57 pm
Why bother? We all die.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: LMNO on January 31, 2017, 12:56:08 pm
Why bother? We all die.

Needs at least one reference to having fun, as that appears to be P3nt's solution.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Q. G. Pennyworth on January 31, 2017, 01:08:28 pm
Have fun, we die anyway.

I dunno, doesn't seem horror-y enough.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: P3nT4gR4m on January 31, 2017, 01:15:38 pm
Nothing horrible about it. Be f'kin miserable, we die anyway. That's horror right there.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Ziegejunge on January 31, 2017, 04:00:29 pm
Your ideals don't impress Death.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: MMIX on January 31, 2017, 04:28:14 pm
Your ideals don't impress Death.
You're in the wrong thread
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: MMIX on January 31, 2017, 04:32:00 pm
Your ideals don't impress Death.
You're in the wrong thread
Your bleak statement is apt
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on January 31, 2017, 04:56:56 pm
>> I apologize for derailing this, I didn't expect that to happen...

Trying to get back on course, an approach to the problem of these self-reinforcing echo chambers powered by customized search results. It's difficult to plot a trajectory to change the status quo here without understanding exactly what the algorithms do, how they track people, what weight is given to which metrics, etc.

Google (and I assume other search providers) do try to weight information by quality already, it's just that with the nascent AI that's in the production phase right now they can't be very efficient at gauging content on its own merits. They have to look at indicators of its quality like the amount of time a user spends on a search result, the number of time they come back to it, other clicks they make at the target domain, etc. They also track which other content sources are linked to and from the original, and weigh the quality metrics of those sources as a variable in their calculations.

The scale of the operation is staggering, which makes direct interference difficult. There are successful attempts at re-ranking Google results, but they are generally caught and their effects intentionally erased. Anything that changes rankings without being flagged as illegitimate would have to appear as an organic movement, and at that point the technical complexity probably outweighs the work required to just convince people to seek higher quality information.

I am disappointed with the Fake News thing, because you'd think that would be one effective way of getting people to pay attention to information quality. But instead, it was turned around in a matter of days and became just another epithet to throw at each other and discredit anything we disagree with. The tendency toward willful ignorance was basically untouched by the whole thing, and in fact it gained another tool to reinforce itself. So I guess what I'm saying is, I'm at a loss here.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 31, 2017, 05:37:45 pm
In my opinion, there are two ways for this problem to be resolved. One is voluntarily on the part of Google, if they actually maintain any of the social benevolence they (pretend to?) espouse. The other is through legislation, which is a sketchy proposition under the current administration; I don't doubt that Trump would LOVE to place restrictions on information providers, but I suspect we can all agree that the limitations he would impose probably wouldn't favor unbiased access.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 31, 2017, 05:43:20 pm
Your ideals don't impress Death.

(https://cdn-webimages.wimages.net/05150921dc01d550875706789158b0c4d2b761-wm.jpg?v=3)

Yeah, everybody dies. When do most of us learn that, around kindergarten? Preschool maybe? I think I have a particularly keen appreciation for that fundamental reality.

But the point of social reform of any kind is to make life nicer for people while they are still alive, so the inevitability of death is a non-sequitur and irrelevant to the discussion.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: P3nT4gR4m on January 31, 2017, 05:45:43 pm
Google is fine, it's doing what it's designed to do and it gets better at it day on day. Users, on the other hand, are as wonky as they've always been. Fake news and polarised opinions aren't new. That's how it's always been. Difference is now it's dynamic and interactive. The internet gives more opportunity for dissenting opinions to your pet worldview to be encountered, not less. The other side of the coin = adherents to your pet worldview can group together much more easily and ramble on about how the world would be just fucking ticketty if they could convince everyone to "come here and listen to the poets of the cause wax lyrical".

You know me and ideologies - fuck the lot of them. Even the "good" ones. Same shit. Double edged sword. Only this time I fall on the - more harm than they're worth - side of the debate. It's the internet, you can disagree if you like and tell me why I'm the lowest form of scum. I call that net progress. Room for improvement? Sure. There's probably always gonna be room for improvement. All I'm saying is that if you want to stop people only reading things and discussing things with people that support their pet worldview, google is the least of your worries.

Anyway, you can rest assured google will be on it. Just like Facebook are on it with the fake news thing. It's easy to criticise those guys or those corporate behemoths for the bad things they've gotten up to but that's just one edge of the sword. We wouldn't be where we are right now without the efforts of them and others like them. The world is connected. We are connected to information and to each other in a way we've never been before as a species. The potential is off the charts but, as usual, we're hanging out in little enclaves and pointing fingers at those "inhuman -------'s who just need kicked in the teeth harder and they'll come around to our way of thinking".

If I was forced to choose between trusting Sergey and Larry and trusting the fucking united states government to bring us closer to resolving any issues relating to this topic or others like it? Come on. Srsly?  :lulz:
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: MMIX on January 31, 2017, 06:06:08 pm
I suspect it is kind of old-fashioned to say that the love of money is the root of all evil. However, if we are serious about trying to de-polarise society - and I would suggest that it is not merely opinions but society itself which is being polarised by the current madness - what we need to be looking at is the way that current media is monetised. I have no suggestions, but I am convinced that click-bait is potentially poisonous on all sorts of levels.

Also Pent fr serious? Google is great but the people suck, WTF?
Look, like Nigel said
 
Quote
the point of social reform of any kind is to make life nicer for people while they are still alive
You might want to take those nihilistic blinkers off so you can see who is coming for you. Being a cynical shit is not going to help anyone get through the future intact.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: LMNO on January 31, 2017, 06:19:06 pm
You might want to take those nihilistic blinkers off


You really don't know P3nt that well, I can see.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 31, 2017, 06:25:55 pm
Google is fine, it's doing what it's designed to do and it gets better at it day on day. Users, on the other hand, are as wonky as they've always been. Fake news and polarised opinions aren't new. That's how it's always been. Difference is now it's dynamic and interactive. The internet gives more opportunity for dissenting opinions to your pet worldview to be encountered, not less. The other side of the coin = adherents to your pet worldview can group together much more easily and ramble on about how the world would be just fucking ticketty if they could convince everyone to "come here and listen to the poets of the cause wax lyrical".

You know me and ideologies - fuck the lot of them. Even the "good" ones. Same shit. Double edged sword. Only this time I fall on the - more harm than they're worth - side of the debate. It's the internet, you can disagree if you like and tell me why I'm the lowest form of scum. I call that net progress. Room for improvement? Sure. There's probably always gonna be room for improvement. All I'm saying is that if you want to stop people only reading things and discussing things with people that support their pet worldview, google is the least of your worries.

Anyway, you can rest assured google will be on it. Just like Facebook are on it with the fake news thing. It's easy to criticise those guys or those corporate behemoths for the bad things they've gotten up to but that's just one edge of the sword. We wouldn't be where we are right now without the efforts of them and others like them. The world is connected. We are connected to information and to each other in a way we've never been before as a species. The potential is off the charts but, as usual, we're hanging out in little enclaves and pointing fingers at those "inhuman -------'s who just need kicked in the teeth harder and they'll come around to our way of thinking".

If I was forced to choose between trusting Sergey and Larry and trusting the fucking united states government to bring us closer to resolving any issues relating to this topic or others like it? Come on. Srsly?  :lulz:

You could have replaced this entire wall of text with this:

(http://static.gamespot.com/uploads/original/1320/13204927/2444945-5903787721-19123.jpg)
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 31, 2017, 06:28:04 pm
I'm not sure why you can't grasp the idea that targeted censorship is a very very big deal, but there you have it.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on January 31, 2017, 06:52:40 pm
The thing is, without a concerted effort from Google to invent a technology that really doesn't yet exist specifically to undermine their profit model directly, or dangerous thought-policing counter-censorship legislation, the only way to effect the system as it is now is to impersonate something. Either impersonate users so Google changes its rankings, or impersonate content so Google delivers your information to people who think they're getting something else.

Either way, it's unlikely to gain any momentum at all without a genuine viral movement that convinces people who aren't in on the plan to participate unwittingly. And once you get to that point, you're really talking about changing minds anyway so you're left with the same problem you started with.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: MMIX on January 31, 2017, 07:22:06 pm
You might want to take those nihilistic blinkers off


You really don't know P3nt that well, I can see.

I don't know him at all, actually, but I do have 10 odd years of experience reading his stuff though.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 31, 2017, 08:44:02 pm
The thing is, without a concerted effort from Google to invent a technology that really doesn't yet exist specifically to undermine their profit model directly, or dangerous thought-policing counter-censorship legislation, the only way to effect the system as it is now is to impersonate something. Either impersonate users so Google changes its rankings, or impersonate content so Google delivers your information to people who think they're getting something else.

Either way, it's unlikely to gain any momentum at all without a genuine viral movement that convinces people who aren't in on the plan to participate unwittingly. And once you get to that point, you're really talking about changing minds anyway so you're left with the same problem you started with.

Google doesn't need to make a new product, they need to roll back a feature. In order to convince them to roll back a feature that I assume is profitable for them, there are multiple potential approaches. One approach is the social pressure approach; if enough people are talking about it, they may decide that it will benefit them to publicly make an announcement that they are discontinuing (or making optional) their targeted search results. Another approach is the economic pressure model; again, this requires publicity, only the idea is to convince them that they will lose more profit from users switching search engines than they are gaining from targeted results. This approach can only work if a lot of people are talking about it AND other search engines that don't customize search results per user are seeking to exploit the public buzz.

The legislation option is also worth considering, but it would have to be a bipartisan bill that was very carefully worded to avoid creating avenues of abuse.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 31, 2017, 08:45:27 pm
The core idea that I think needs to be spread around is that targeted results = targeted censorship.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: MMIX on January 31, 2017, 08:47:27 pm
The core idea that I think needs to be spread around is that targeted results = targeted censorship.

This, so much this.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on January 31, 2017, 10:19:19 pm
Something like this, maybe?
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: MMIX on January 31, 2017, 11:11:53 pm
Love the concept. Having a problem with the colours. It makes it difficult to read the text. Ironically while that might encourage dispersal it militates against understanding.
Maybe drop the text down and make the google logo a shooting target with a bullet hole. [Yeah, I'm outside my comfort zone here]
 
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Freeky on January 31, 2017, 11:13:14 pm
I was reading a thread today on Tumblr where people were discussing how how old you were on 9/11 is pretty determinate in how you view opposing viewpoints.  It became treasonous, almost, to say anything that wasn't the equivalent of "KILL ALL MUSLIMS" or whatever, and there's adults who don't remember when things didn't used to be this way, because the Bush administration was when they started getting vague ideas and impressions about politics, and then all that garbage was never addressed and people were like "No, everythings' fine" but the hateful rhetoric and knee-jerk accusations and namecalling of people who are on the other side was still a thing.

I was thinking that this, too, is a part of why people don't go looking outside their own worldview, and why Google's algorithm gives them so much business - nobody feels like a traitor by opening themselves up to another viewpoint.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on January 31, 2017, 11:34:10 pm
I find it really, really pathetic that the collective American psyche was/is so fragile that one experience -- yes, a truly terrible experience, but still just a single major event -- has shattered and drained our entire cultural reservoir of goodwill and ethical perseverance. All it took to tear down the facade of American benevolence was one day dealing with what half the planet deals with on a continuing basis. A decade and a half of spinning our wheels and doing more harm than good in the Middle East doesn't help, either. I have my own amateur theories as to how that, maybe subconsciously, plays into this "Make America Great Again" business. But whatever the effect of exposing our fundamental cowardice and petty lust for vengeance, it definitely goes hand in hand with a population retreating to the physical, emotional, and intellectual safety of the familiar.

This is a trend that possibly would have been a factor in public discourse even without the software and systems that are turbocharging it. It might be enough to (at least partly) explain why the Internet -- a system that does put us in almost direct contact with most of the rest of our species -- has pushed us farther apart rather than closer together.

So I think any response to these unconsciously self-imposed ideological echo chambers has to have a few different facets. Yes, we need to draw attention to the fact that by preferring certain information, you are necessarily excluding other, possibly more worthwhile, information. But people -- and I mean Americans because that's all I really know -- need to be reminded that the only reason "The Left" harps on and blames America as all the time is only because we believe America could choose to be all the things our propaganda claims we are. Brave, and free, and strong, and good. Because the way the systems work, even if they are somewhat amended to provide a counterbalance people's limitless ability to pursue bad information, just waking people up to the fact that that's what they're doing won't be enough. They have to be pushed, even inspired, to do something else instead.

Or something.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Freeky on January 31, 2017, 11:39:08 pm
Yeah, seems like it.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on February 01, 2017, 12:14:53 am
Reading through the replies I've missed during my day-long nap...

The problem I'm seeing is that Google isn't the only one to benefit from their results algorithms. So does every online merchant from Amazon to Walmart, and the list continues all the way down to relatively small merchants. These are visible, undeniable monetary benefits.

Anecdote to outline the point: I once bought a length of pipe from speedymetals.com, for a firearms replica project's fake suppressor. (They had low shipping costs.) I now regularly see speedymetals.com results on Google searches to find good cheap bar stock of 1440 steel and so forth. That means that this relatively small supplier is getting a net benefit from Google's algorithms. I visit them more often than I should because they're quick (always top results), efficient (I can read their site layout instantly) and familiar (I know the company is good and how to navigate the site). I've bought more than I should have from them -- sacrificing an extra dollar here and there in favor of not bargain-hunting and dealing with unknown vendors. They're making money off of me, due to Google's algorithms.

So let's say you start a grassroots movement -- you have Google not understanding the problem and tons of businesses who don't understand the problem /and/ can show solid benefits from it. From small businesses to titans. And you have people who feel uneasy because they don't truly understand the problem, it just "makes sense" to them. These people will drop out of the movement. And then you have grassroots /against/ it from people who don't understand the problem, don't have any intuitive alignment with the problem, and benefit from it (see below).

I don't think there's any way to really "get rid of it" except by first destroying the monetary benefits. Something like AdBlock for search engine personalization, or the education I talked about before.

And then you have to make the end-user WANT that for some reason.

Keep in mind that echo chambers of this model are useful! They're comforting, they make it easier to find things if you have narrow interests with ambiguous jargon, they keep you in a tight-knit circle, these are things people want. You have to override these simple, short-term individual benefits in favor of a complex, long-term societal benefit. This is a tough problem. If it wasn't, anti-vaxxers would not be a thing. They certainly wouldn't be gaining popularity.

I'm uncertain of the best way to attack this. It's an uphill battle no matter how you look at it, and there's no obvious "best" approach. I'm thinking like, a meme might actually /be/ the best approach. It's not a good one still, but the other options that come to mind are worse. Play to people's paranoia and the gut-reaction to the idea of censorship/information control. Probably need to examine Trumpist rhetoric to get the best reaction out of it (the "fake news"/"secret Democrat criminal conspiracies" thing has gotten a lot of traction, more than I expected, and I'm not entirely sure why).
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 01, 2017, 12:41:18 am
Reading through the replies I've missed during my day-long nap...

The problem I'm seeing is that Google isn't the only one to benefit from their results algorithms. So does every online merchant from Amazon to Walmart, and the list continues all the way down to relatively small merchants. These are visible, undeniable monetary benefits.

Anecdote to outline the point: I once bought a length of pipe from speedymetals.com, for a firearms replica project's fake suppressor. (They had low shipping costs.) I now regularly see speedymetals.com results on Google searches to find good cheap bar stock of 1440 steel and so forth. That means that this relatively small supplier is getting a net benefit from Google's algorithms. I visit them more often than I should because they're quick (always top results), efficient (I can read their site layout instantly) and familiar (I know the company is good and how to navigate the site). I've bought more than I should have from them -- sacrificing an extra dollar here and there in favor of not bargain-hunting and dealing with unknown vendors. They're making money off of me, due to Google's algorithms.

So let's say you start a grassroots movement -- you have Google not understanding the problem and tons of businesses who don't understand the problem /and/ can show solid benefits from it. From small businesses to titans. And you have people who feel uneasy because they don't truly understand the problem, it just "makes sense" to them. These people will drop out of the movement. And then you have grassroots /against/ it from people who don't understand the problem, don't have any intuitive alignment with the problem, and benefit from it (see below).

I don't think there's any way to really "get rid of it" except by first destroying the monetary benefits. Something like AdBlock for search engine personalization, or the education I talked about before.

And then you have to make the end-user WANT that for some reason.

Keep in mind that echo chambers of this model are useful! They're comforting, they make it easier to find things if you have narrow interests with ambiguous jargon, they keep you in a tight-knit circle, these are things people want. You have to override these simple, short-term individual benefits in favor of a complex, long-term societal benefit. This is a tough problem. If it wasn't, anti-vaxxers would not be a thing. They certainly wouldn't be gaining popularity.

I'm uncertain of the best way to attack this. It's an uphill battle no matter how you look at it, and there's no obvious "best" approach. I'm thinking like, a meme might actually /be/ the best approach. It's not a good one still, but the other options that come to mind are worse. Play to people's paranoia and the gut-reaction to the idea of censorship/information control. Probably need to examine Trumpist rhetoric to get the best reaction out of it (the "fake news"/"secret Democrat criminal conspiracies" thing has gotten a lot of traction, more than I expected, and I'm not entirely sure why).

The thing is, targeted ads are a completely separate issue from targeted search results. So, Google could still ethically reap mad ad revenue from companies that want to pay to sponsor the clearly-marked paid ads that are at the top of every search results page.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on February 01, 2017, 02:18:15 am
Yeah, but I'm not talking about ads. I avoid/despise ads. I understand why they're there and I don't use an adblocker most of the time, but I've never clicked an ad except by accident.

I get these links in search results for "440 stainless bar stock "1 inch by 1/2 inch"" and so forth. These are definitely search results, not ads. That could be said to be unique to me, except I know of many people it affects along the same lines -- when I played airsoft for a couple years people would notice they mainly got search results for rare airsoft guns from their favorite sites. It lead to some funny arguments, in fact. The same thing happens with videogames -- I know people who will search for, say, "Shadowrun Hong Kong", but because they only use Steam and Humble Store, the gog.com page doesn't show up. Usually, the official site is near the bottom of the first page for them.

There's definitely a monetary benefit for companies from having targeted search results.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 01, 2017, 05:07:14 pm
Yeah, but I'm not talking about ads. I avoid/despise ads. I understand why they're there and I don't use an adblocker most of the time, but I've never clicked an ad except by accident.

I get these links in search results for "440 stainless bar stock "1 inch by 1/2 inch"" and so forth. These are definitely search results, not ads. That could be said to be unique to me, except I know of many people it affects along the same lines -- when I played airsoft for a couple years people would notice they mainly got search results for rare airsoft guns from their favorite sites. It lead to some funny arguments, in fact. The same thing happens with videogames -- I know people who will search for, say, "Shadowrun Hong Kong", but because they only use Steam and Humble Store, the gog.com page doesn't show up. Usually, the official site is near the bottom of the first page for them.

There's definitely a monetary benefit for companies from having targeted search results.

Right. That is the point of targeted results, which are what we are talking about. There are targeted results, and there are sponsored results, which are also targeted, but are paid ads that are labeled "ad". They used to be labeled "sponsored" but they changed it at some point. These are usually the top four listings in the results.

I am opposed to the targeted general results, but not to the targeted paid ads because they are labeled as ads.

Targeted results make Google money indirectly. Sponsored targeted results make Google money directly.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on February 01, 2017, 06:25:37 pm
Right. That is the point of targeted results, which are what we are talking about. There are targeted results, and there are sponsored results, which are also targeted, but are paid ads that are labeled "ad". They used to be labeled "sponsored" but they changed it at some point. These are usually the top four listings in the results.

I am opposed to the targeted general results, but not to the targeted paid ads because they are labeled as ads.

Targeted results make Google money indirectly. Sponsored targeted results make Google money directly.

Right. I don't think we're disagreeing exactly, I think I just need to think for awhile on how best to frame the monetary side of the issue that I'm seeing.

A start might be to say this: Google doesn't make money directly from targeted search results, true. But the companies who benefit from them do directly make money from them.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 01, 2017, 07:55:13 pm
Right. That is the point of targeted results, which are what we are talking about. There are targeted results, and there are sponsored results, which are also targeted, but are paid ads that are labeled "ad". They used to be labeled "sponsored" but they changed it at some point. These are usually the top four listings in the results.

I am opposed to the targeted general results, but not to the targeted paid ads because they are labeled as ads.

Targeted results make Google money indirectly. Sponsored targeted results make Google money directly.

Right. I don't think we're disagreeing exactly, I think I just need to think for awhile on how best to frame the monetary side of the issue that I'm seeing.

A start might be to say this: Google doesn't make money directly from targeted search results, true. But the companies who benefit from them do directly make money from them.

I don't know that Google cares about that. Which is to say; Google benefits from targeted search results because users like it , which brings them more users, which brings them more ad revenue. Google is therefore motivated in that area more by user approval, and less by the presumed financial benefit to other companies. Recall that if you are searching for a product, you are likely going to spend money on that product with some company. It is irrelevant to Google which company.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on February 01, 2017, 08:27:58 pm
Absolutely. Now imagine those companies reacting to the death of targeted search results. Could be I'm overly paranoid, though? I don't know, my headmeats aren't cooperating to return me to the same train of thought I had last post, so I'm finding it difficult to form a coherent argument. For now, I'll concede the point and cut the threadcrapping.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 01, 2017, 08:55:06 pm
Absolutely. Now imagine those companies reacting to the death of targeted search results. Could be I'm overly paranoid, though? I don't know, my headmeats aren't cooperating to return me to the same train of thought I had last post, so I'm finding it difficult to form a coherent argument. For now, I'll concede the point and cut the threadcrapping.

You might be able to make an argument that companies will be distressed by the loss of targeted search results, but you would have to examine a lot of angles to be convincing. For example, targeted results mean that a company's page is more likely to be a top result for someone who has shopped with them before. That means more exposure to current customers, but less exposure to people who have never heard of your company before. Is that advantageous? It really depends on a lot.

Then there's the question of whether those companies being dismayed has any impact on Google's bottom line. Does Google have a reason to give a fuck whether they like it? If companies feel the need to step up advertising to make up for losing targeted results, then no; quite the opposite. Would that be the case? No idea.

You aren't really crapping up the thread BTW. At least, not in my opinion. I am simply responding to point out gaps and encourage you to develop your completely relevant thought into a cohesive argument.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 01, 2017, 08:58:45 pm
Love the concept. Having a problem with the colours. It makes it difficult to read the text. Ironically while that might encourage dispersal it militates against understanding.
Maybe drop the text down and make the google logo a shooting target with a bullet hole. [Yeah, I'm outside my comfort zone here]

I just stole Google logo directly from the internet; feel free to use or modify it in any way that seems useful to you!
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: LMNO on February 01, 2017, 09:42:19 pm
I don't have much to contribute, other than to say I'm really enjoying this thread so far.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on February 02, 2017, 08:02:07 am
Absolutely. Now imagine those companies reacting to the death of targeted search results. Could be I'm overly paranoid, though? I don't know, my headmeats aren't cooperating to return me to the same train of thought I had last post, so I'm finding it difficult to form a coherent argument. For now, I'll concede the point and cut the threadcrapping.

You might be able to make an argument that companies will be distressed by the loss of targeted search results, but you would have to examine a lot of angles to be convincing. For example, targeted results mean that a company's page is more likely to be a top result for someone who has shopped with them before. That means more exposure to current customers, but less exposure to people who have never heard of your company before. Is that advantageous? It really depends on a lot.

Then there's the question of whether those companies being dismayed has any impact on Google's bottom line. Does Google have a reason to give a fuck whether they like it? If companies feel the need to step up advertising to make up for losing targeted results, then no; quite the opposite. Would that be the case? No idea.

You aren't really crapping up the thread BTW. At least, not in my opinion. I am simply responding to point out gaps and encourage you to develop your completely relevant thought into a cohesive argument.

I think I was almost certainly just being paranoid. It felt like a given that any attempt to somehow reduce the amount of echo chamber radicalization in the world would be resisted by everyone who isn't a full and accredited biped due to a number of short-term, marginal but concrete benefits that might outweigh (in their tiny heads) the long-term, serious but abstract societal benefits of removing targeted search results.

To me, threadcrapping definitely includes having an inability to put together a rational, coherent argument, which was the entire issue I was having. And now I see why it was difficult -- I was missing perspective, which your post gives me.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: P3nT4gR4m on February 02, 2017, 09:43:24 am
You want to get rid of targetted search results, I'll fight it all the way. I remember how long I used to spend on google wading through pages upon pages of bullshit that had nothing to do with my query, just because a couple of words were the same. Fuck that noise.

Have a think about this

Quote
Roof’s radicalization began, as he later wrote in an online manifesto, when he typed the words “black on White crime” into Google and found what he described as “pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders.”

So before he even looked at google he was interested in "Black on white crime" The problem here is not google doing what it's for and searching the internet on a user's behalf. That's just a f'kin scapegoat. Why is a 20 year old redneck typing "black on white crime" into a search engine in the first place? Pretty sure the real problem lies at the bottom of that particular rabbit hole. Why did "Council of Conservative Citizens" score so high on pagerank? That's somewhere else to have a dig. An indexing service that scans a trillion pages a second and takes me straight to the information I want to find? Yeah, do me a favour and leave that shit the fuck alone.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Faust on February 02, 2017, 10:00:24 am
The only real way to fight it is to encourage competition:
I'm not a DuckDuckGo Jehova's Witness, but we need to support other search engines in order for them to flourish they need traffic for ad revenue or donations. Support the projects that provide transparency on their algorithms if you want an open web.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Q. G. Pennyworth on February 02, 2017, 12:03:14 pm
Absolutely. Now imagine those companies reacting to the death of targeted search results. Could be I'm overly paranoid, though? I don't know, my headmeats aren't cooperating to return me to the same train of thought I had last post, so I'm finding it difficult to form a coherent argument. For now, I'll concede the point and cut the threadcrapping.

You might be able to make an argument that companies will be distressed by the loss of targeted search results, but you would have to examine a lot of angles to be convincing. For example, targeted results mean that a company's page is more likely to be a top result for someone who has shopped with them before. That means more exposure to current customers, but less exposure to people who have never heard of your company before. Is that advantageous? It really depends on a lot.

I don't have a fully formed response to this, but I remember in reading about Target's super creepy profiling (the thing where they tagged a young woman as pregnant and started advertising to her as such before she told her family) that consumers are really serious about the ruts they get in, and it usually takes a major life change (such as a pregnancy or moving) to get them to switch it up. Being able to target people at those junctures is way more efficient than blanket advertising.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 02, 2017, 05:24:10 pm
Absolutely. Now imagine those companies reacting to the death of targeted search results. Could be I'm overly paranoid, though? I don't know, my headmeats aren't cooperating to return me to the same train of thought I had last post, so I'm finding it difficult to form a coherent argument. For now, I'll concede the point and cut the threadcrapping.

You might be able to make an argument that companies will be distressed by the loss of targeted search results, but you would have to examine a lot of angles to be convincing. For example, targeted results mean that a company's page is more likely to be a top result for someone who has shopped with them before. That means more exposure to current customers, but less exposure to people who have never heard of your company before. Is that advantageous? It really depends on a lot.

I don't have a fully formed response to this, but I remember in reading about Target's super creepy profiling (the thing where they tagged a young woman as pregnant and started advertising to her as such before she told her family) that consumers are really serious about the ruts they get in, and it usually takes a major life change (such as a pregnancy or moving) to get them to switch it up. Being able to target people at those junctures is way more efficient than blanket advertising.

When I was running a business, I spent money trying to reach people who were NOT my current customers.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Prelate Diogenes Shandor on February 04, 2017, 11:12:32 pm
One of the worst that directly impacts me has been when I am searching for C# or code related stuff, and I come home and searches start pushing those.

I've started using duck duck go for home use and google for work.

Personally, in addition to Duck Duck Go, I also use the Ghostery plugin and never log into my google account for anything other than my gmail email, (which is not registered under my real name)
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on February 06, 2017, 02:44:16 pm
 While it seems like an insurmountable task to persuade people to care about objectivity and information quality, it turns out that the techniques used to provide customized search results are the same ones that allow for mass surveillance on the internet. A nice side effect of becoming more anonymous online is that you'll also get much less of this targeted information. So maybe a push toward making people paranoid would help in releasing people from (some of) this echo chamber phenomenon.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on February 07, 2017, 05:39:33 pm
this is useless. but... idk, maybe somewhere to start.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: LuciferX on February 07, 2017, 06:41:11 pm
While it seems like an insurmountable task to persuade people to care about objectivity and information quality, it turns out that the techniques used to provide customized search results are the same ones that allow for mass surveillance on the internet. A nice side effect of becoming more anonymous online is that you'll also get much less of this targeted information. So maybe a push toward making people paranoid would help in releasing people from (some of) this echo chamber phenomenon.

Yea, but the paranoia would only work tangentially.  A subject thereof (paranoid agent) would receive less target results, however the operant intention is usually to evade detection.  Release from the echo chamber may temporarily break the spell of confirmation bias, however it does not ensure that the subject will take information objectivity-quality to heart.  I'm thinking...  If instead there was a way to challenge subjects core identity, then they listen.  So, the trick would be to show people that by manipulating their search results, you can manipulate their actions, get them to do something they would not otherwise have done.

Targeted results stop you from acting freely.

Some kind of undeniable "before and after" snapshot probably needs to be presented to subject or they will insist ad nauseum that it was their idea all along.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 07, 2017, 06:52:37 pm
You want to get rid of targetted search results, I'll fight it all the way. I remember how long I used to spend on google wading through pages upon pages of bullshit that had nothing to do with my query, just because a couple of words were the same. Fuck that noise.

Have a think about this

Quote
Roof’s radicalization began, as he later wrote in an online manifesto, when he typed the words “black on White crime” into Google and found what he described as “pages upon pages of these brutal black on White murders.”

So before he even looked at google he was interested in "Black on white crime" The problem here is not google doing what it's for and searching the internet on a user's behalf. That's just a f'kin scapegoat. Why is a 20 year old redneck typing "black on white crime" into a search engine in the first place? Pretty sure the real problem lies at the bottom of that particular rabbit hole. Why did "Council of Conservative Citizens" score so high on pagerank? That's somewhere else to have a dig. An indexing service that scans a trillion pages a second and takes me straight to the information I want to find? Yeah, do me a favour and leave that shit the fuck alone.

So learn to search better. I can, and you can too.

And yes, his results reinforced his pre-existing biases. Congratulations, you got the main point of the article.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 07, 2017, 06:54:21 pm
While it seems like an insurmountable task to persuade people to care about objectivity and information quality, it turns out that the techniques used to provide customized search results are the same ones that allow for mass surveillance on the internet. A nice side effect of becoming more anonymous online is that you'll also get much less of this targeted information. So maybe a push toward making people paranoid would help in releasing people from (some of) this echo chamber phenomenon.

I would say that I hate to sound like a socialist, but I don't hate it because I am one.

While education is certainly the solution to almost all our problems, well... yeah. You can see where that goes. There are social protections against rampant exploitation of an uninformed populace for good reasons.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 07, 2017, 06:56:04 pm
Maybe I should say "were". There were social protections against rampant exploitation of an uninformed populace for a reason.

Roughly the same reason we have had truth in advertising laws, the EPA, fluoridated water, and mandatory vaccination.

Anybody remember what happened after Reagan deregulated the airlines?
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 07, 2017, 06:57:27 pm
Targeted results stop you from acting freely.

This right here is the heart of the matter.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Junkenstein on February 07, 2017, 07:13:42 pm
Targeted results stop you from acting freely.

This right here is the heart of the matter.

Stopped clocks, etc.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on February 07, 2017, 07:32:26 pm
Yes. Targeted results stop you from acting freely. But that knowledge doesn't matter. They don't care. We can expound on the virtues of a clean, objective, well-rounded view of history and our place in it all we want, and we might even get some people to agree how important it is, but if they don't care, they won't change their behavior.

It's widely common to dismiss rightwing extremists as uneducated and unaware, and for good reason. They do tend to be those things. But they are still, technically, human beings, and as such I think they possess a degree of insight that is somewhat (maybe not much) higher than they are often given credit for. That isn't to say people locked into these ideological bubbles are "right" about anything, but it wouldn't be news to them that they are, in fact, locked inside an ideological bubble. They already know their information is biased. They will, often, openly admit that they seek "conservative" information. Sure, they will call it "correct" and "true", and they will accuse everyone else of lying, but to them, what is true is inconsequential anyway. They feel safe where they are, where they are validated, where their feelings are coddled and their beliefs are reinforced. They are already aware of this situation, whatever the words are they use to describe it. This is what they choose.

So just bringing it to their attention that "hey buddy, all your information is fake" or even just "you're missing half the story" won't go anywhere, because information quality or completeness isn't their motivation anyway. They are not rational actors.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 07, 2017, 07:39:05 pm
Yes. Targeted results stop you from acting freely. But that knowledge doesn't matter. They don't care. We can expound on the virtues of a clean, objective, well-rounded view of history and our place in it all we want, and we might even get some people to agree how important it is, but if they don't care, they won't change their behavior.

It's widely common to dismiss rightwing extremists as uneducated and unaware, and for good reason. They do tend to be those things. But they are still, technically, human beings, and as such I think they possess a degree of insight that is somewhat (maybe not much) higher than they are often given credit for. That isn't to say people locked into these ideological bubbles are "right" about anything, but it wouldn't be news to them that they are, in fact, locked inside an ideological bubble. They already know their information is biased. They will, often, openly admit that they seek "conservative" information. Sure, they will call it "correct" and "true", and they will accuse everyone else of lying, but to them, what is true is inconsequential anyway. They feel safe where they are, where they are validated, where their feelings are coddled and their beliefs are reinforced. They are already aware of this situation, whatever the words are they use to describe it. This is what they choose.

So just bringing it to their attention that "hey buddy, all your information is fake" or even just "you're missing half the story" won't go anywhere, because information quality or completeness isn't their motivation anyway. They are not rational actors.

This is not really about political affiliation; the same problem applies to liberals, across all educational backgrounds.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: P3nT4gR4m on February 07, 2017, 11:34:19 pm

And yes, his results reinforced his pre-existing biases. Congratulations, you got the main point of the article.

Those results were the only results he would have accepted. Congratulations, main point of the article missed your scalp by a good couple of feet.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on February 08, 2017, 02:13:41 am
...

This is not really about political affiliation; the same problem applies to liberals, across all educational backgrounds.

I was at work, distracted, and so a little clumsy with my example. My point was that biased people tend to already know, on some level, that they are biased. They just don't care. To them, the quality of the information is secondary to whatever belief they're trying to reinforce. People are more than just a product of information they are exposed to, so exposing them to or getting them to consume higher quality information, or more well-rounded information, is only going to affect their bias if they are already placing a higher value on information than on their beliefs. Otherwise, they'll do all the work of filtering out information themselves, often subconsciously, even without Google's (or whoever's) help. At best, they'll be more acquainted with arguments they reject. At worst, they'll view the conflicting information as a threat and actively seek to suppress it by retreating from the source and burying themselves on Stormfront, or wherever.

So yes, the customized/personalized search results definitely have the effect of magnifying bias, but the information itself isn't the underlying problem so it can't be the solution (on its own) either.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 08, 2017, 03:58:18 am
...

This is not really about political affiliation; the same problem applies to liberals, across all educational backgrounds.

I was at work, distracted, and so a little clumsy with my example. My point was that biased people tend to already know, on some level, that they are biased. They just don't care. To them, the quality of the information is secondary to whatever belief they're trying to reinforce. People are more than just a product of information they are exposed to, so exposing them to or getting them to consume higher quality information, or more well-rounded information, is only going to affect their bias if they are already placing a higher value on information than on their beliefs. Otherwise, they'll do all the work of filtering out information themselves, often subconsciously, even without Google's (or whoever's) help. At best, they'll be more acquainted with arguments they reject. At worst, they'll view the conflicting information as a threat and actively seek to suppress it by retreating from the source and burying themselves on Stormfront, or wherever.

So yes, the customized/personalized search results definitely have the effect of magnifying bias, but the information itself isn't the underlying problem so it can't be the solution (on its own) either.

I think you are making the mistake of thinking of the people affected by this issue as "them" rather than "us".
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on February 08, 2017, 04:28:28 am
...

This is not really about political affiliation; the same problem applies to liberals, across all educational backgrounds.

I was at work, distracted, and so a little clumsy with my example. My point was that biased people tend to already know, on some level, that they are biased. They just don't care. To them, the quality of the information is secondary to whatever belief they're trying to reinforce. People are more than just a product of information they are exposed to, so exposing them to or getting them to consume higher quality information, or more well-rounded information, is only going to affect their bias if they are already placing a higher value on information than on their beliefs. Otherwise, they'll do all the work of filtering out information themselves, often subconsciously, even without Google's (or whoever's) help. At best, they'll be more acquainted with arguments they reject. At worst, they'll view the conflicting information as a threat and actively seek to suppress it by retreating from the source and burying themselves on Stormfront, or wherever.

So yes, the customized/personalized search results definitely have the effect of magnifying bias, but the information itself isn't the underlying problem so it can't be the solution (on its own) either.

I think you are making the mistake of thinking of the people affected by this issue as "them" rather than "us".

No, I know very well this affects me too. It's just the way the grammar works out when you try to describe a problem from the outside. I know there's no such thing as "outside" this particular problem, even if it exists on a spectrum. Just pretend I said "we" instead of "they", it doesn't change the statement.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 08, 2017, 03:21:48 pm
...

This is not really about political affiliation; the same problem applies to liberals, across all educational backgrounds.

I was at work, distracted, and so a little clumsy with my example. My point was that biased people tend to already know, on some level, that they are biased. They just don't care. To them, the quality of the information is secondary to whatever belief they're trying to reinforce. People are more than just a product of information they are exposed to, so exposing them to or getting them to consume higher quality information, or more well-rounded information, is only going to affect their bias if they are already placing a higher value on information than on their beliefs. Otherwise, they'll do all the work of filtering out information themselves, often subconsciously, even without Google's (or whoever's) help. At best, they'll be more acquainted with arguments they reject. At worst, they'll view the conflicting information as a threat and actively seek to suppress it by retreating from the source and burying themselves on Stormfront, or wherever.

So yes, the customized/personalized search results definitely have the effect of magnifying bias, but the information itself isn't the underlying problem so it can't be the solution (on its own) either.

I think you are making the mistake of thinking of the people affected by this issue as "them" rather than "us".

No, I know very well this affects me too. It's just the way the grammar works out when you try to describe a problem from the outside. I know there's no such thing as "outside" this particular problem, even if it exists on a spectrum. Just pretend I said "we" instead of "they", it doesn't change the statement.

So... basically you're saying is that people already have biases and that they don't care. That is a true and established fundamental principle of psychology.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 08, 2017, 03:22:35 pm

And yes, his results reinforced his pre-existing biases. Congratulations, you got the main point of the article.

Those results were the only results he would have accepted. Congratulations, main point of the article missed your scalp by a good couple of feet.

Sure, totally.  :roll:
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on February 08, 2017, 04:02:10 pm
...

This is not really about political affiliation; the same problem applies to liberals, across all educational backgrounds.

I was at work, distracted, and so a little clumsy with my example. My point was that biased people tend to already know, on some level, that they are biased. They just don't care. To them, the quality of the information is secondary to whatever belief they're trying to reinforce. People are more than just a product of information they are exposed to, so exposing them to or getting them to consume higher quality information, or more well-rounded information, is only going to affect their bias if they are already placing a higher value on information than on their beliefs. Otherwise, they'll do all the work of filtering out information themselves, often subconsciously, even without Google's (or whoever's) help. At best, they'll be more acquainted with arguments they reject. At worst, they'll view the conflicting information as a threat and actively seek to suppress it by retreating from the source and burying themselves on Stormfront, or wherever.

So yes, the customized/personalized search results definitely have the effect of magnifying bias, but the information itself isn't the underlying problem so it can't be the solution (on its own) either.

I think you are making the mistake of thinking of the people affected by this issue as "them" rather than "us".

No, I know very well this affects me too. It's just the way the grammar works out when you try to describe a problem from the outside. I know there's no such thing as "outside" this particular problem, even if it exists on a spectrum. Just pretend I said "we" instead of "they", it doesn't change the statement.

So... basically you're saying is that people already have biases and that they don't care. That is a true and established fundamental principle of psychology.

I guess I'll have to ask you to excuse me for not having completed a Psych 101 course, but arriving at an accepted fundamental principle all the same. In the context of this discussion, which is about the impact of personalized search results on those biases, it's useful to point out lest someone think that simply reversing these algorithms, or somehow intentionally seeding results with nonconforming information, would be sufficient to overcome this effect. My own admittedly not traditionally educated opinion is that with or without such algorithms, the wealth of information available online itself will have the effect of magnifying bias because people are going to seek the information they want and ignore the information that conflicts with our beliefs anyway. So righting the unethical practice of effectively obscuring true information from people just because we don't necessarily prefer it is an admirable goal morally speaking, as long as we don't expect it to change anything.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 08, 2017, 04:15:46 pm
I guess I'll have to ask you to excuse me for not having completed a Psych 101 course, but arriving at an accepted fundamental principle all the same. In the context of this discussion, which is about the impact of personalized search results on those biases, it's useful to point out lest someone think that simply reversing these algorithms, or somehow intentionally seeding results with nonconforming information, would be sufficient to overcome this effect. My own admittedly not traditionally educated opinion is that with or without such algorithms, the wealth of information available online itself will have the effect of magnifying bias because people are going to seek the information they want and ignore the information that conflicts with our beliefs anyway. So righting the unethical practice of effectively obscuring true information from people just because we don't necessarily prefer it is an admirable goal morally speaking, as long as we don't expect it to change anything.

As a person with extensive formal human behavior education under my belt, I wholeheartedly disagree with you, hence this thread.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: tyrannosaurus vex on February 08, 2017, 04:31:02 pm
I guess I'll have to ask you to excuse me for not having completed a Psych 101 course, but arriving at an accepted fundamental principle all the same. In the context of this discussion, which is about the impact of personalized search results on those biases, it's useful to point out lest someone think that simply reversing these algorithms, or somehow intentionally seeding results with nonconforming information, would be sufficient to overcome this effect. My own admittedly not traditionally educated opinion is that with or without such algorithms, the wealth of information available online itself will have the effect of magnifying bias because people are going to seek the information they want and ignore the information that conflicts with our beliefs anyway. So righting the unethical practice of effectively obscuring true information from people just because we don't necessarily prefer it is an admirable goal morally speaking, as long as we don't expect it to change anything.

As a person with extensive formal human behavior education under my belt, I wholeheartedly disagree with you, hence this thread.

That's fine. You're probably right, I don't know as much as you do, so I won't belabor it. Plus I'm interested in finding out either way. So what's your idea about how to change it, in broad strokes? Do you prefer a campaign to pressure information providers to alter their algorithms in some way (either to relax the information bubbles or inject higher quality information into results despite conflicts with user preferences), try to spark a "viral" movement to bring attention to low information quality, or some combination? I guess what I'm asking is that PD is... least dysfunctional... when there's a project of some kind, and we have a ton of creative power, so where do you think we should put our effort?
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 08, 2017, 04:33:24 pm
I guess I'll have to ask you to excuse me for not having completed a Psych 101 course, but arriving at an accepted fundamental principle all the same. In the context of this discussion, which is about the impact of personalized search results on those biases, it's useful to point out lest someone think that simply reversing these algorithms, or somehow intentionally seeding results with nonconforming information, would be sufficient to overcome this effect. My own admittedly not traditionally educated opinion is that with or without such algorithms, the wealth of information available online itself will have the effect of magnifying bias because people are going to seek the information they want and ignore the information that conflicts with our beliefs anyway. So righting the unethical practice of effectively obscuring true information from people just because we don't necessarily prefer it is an admirable goal morally speaking, as long as we don't expect it to change anything.

As a person with extensive formal human behavior education under my belt, I wholeheartedly disagree with you, hence this thread.

That's fine. You're probably right, I don't know as much as you do, so I won't belabor it. Plus I'm interested in finding out either way. So what's your idea about how to change it, in broad strokes? Do you prefer a campaign to pressure information providers to alter their algorithms in some way (either to relax the information bubbles or inject higher quality information into results despite conflicts with user preferences), try to spark a "viral" movement to bring attention to low information quality, or some combination? I guess what I'm asking is that PD is... least dysfunctional... when there's a project of some kind, and we have a ton of creative power, so where do you think we should put our effort?

I'm pretty sure I expressed my thoughts on that in previous posts in this thread.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 08, 2017, 04:45:55 pm
Basically, at this stage, the only viable angle of approach is simply talking about it. Spreading the idea that targeted results is targeted censorship. IF this idea takes hold, even if only among writers and intellectual types, THEN we will have the social pressure necessary to move on to step 2, which is proposing legislation. Social pressure alone, however, might be enough to spur Google to either modify its targeting, or to make an easy and obvious way to turn off targeting.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on February 08, 2017, 05:23:47 pm
Social pressure alone, however, might be enough to spur Google to either modify its targeting, or to make an easy and obvious way to turn off targeting.

The bolded strikes me as insufficient.

Arguably we don't get the societal benefits of removing targeted search results if it's an opt-out system unless you can "opt out" on a per-search basis. Something like Google having a button at the top of search pages, "Show untargeted results". People will play with it just to play with it, and that helps, a /little/ bit. Unfortunately, it still reinforces a sense of "Here's the real world, and here's the world THEY want you to see" -- with the two being swapped from their real order. After all, why would Google by default feed them biased information? Especially if it happens to perfectly fit their contrived worldview! Bias is something that happens to The Other Guy -- you might be aware of bias on your end but the average person convinces themselves that awareness of bias is enough to counteract it, according to my research and experience.

Another issue is: if it's opt-out, most people won't bother -- it's extra work, even if it's minimal extra work. Witness how few people (outside the scientific community, of course) will bother using something like libgen if they want an article that's paywall locked. Slight inconveniences are sufficient deterrents for the average individual, there's a lot of evidence of this.

(I think there's something to be said for the other side too, though -- people who are used to digging for information feel like information they get "easily" is somehow worth less. I know I've noticed this tendency in me, and I think it's something that could backfire in a world where this sort of thing manages to get pushed through.)

I've thought about this, and I think I'd prefer default untargeted search results with opt-in targeting on a per-search basis. That's the best of all possible worlds, I think -- it gives P3nt what he wants with a single extra click per search (reducing the work of hunting through untargeted results despite the minor increase of work to bring up targeted results), forces no extra education, and says "This is the real world. Here is the fantasy world we have prepared specifically for you" -- which raises awareness of how prevalent the echo chambers we live in really are.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 08, 2017, 06:29:30 pm
Opt-in is certainly preferable to opt-out, but consider what is most likely to be a voluntary action taken by Google and other search engines. They will take the avenue that is most likely to forestall legislation banning targeted search results, and that avenue is more likely to be a radio button next to the search box that defaults to targeted.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on February 08, 2017, 06:37:39 pm
It's probably pretty clear that I would prefer the legislation, with the justification that interfering with access to information by modifying search results is unethical.

In order to make that argument, it is first necessary for a body of research to support the claim that targeted search results interfere with access to information. This would not be difficult research to conduct, and I anticipate that quite a few graduate students would be interested in it as a thesis project, especially given the rise of academic interest in the causes of the increasing polarization of political and social opinion that is occurring globally. To be able to pin a significant proportion of causation on targeted search results could earn some eager young social scientist PhD a respectable name for themselves.

So, to recap:

Phase 1: Spreading the idea that targeted search results interfere with access to information.
Phase 2: Academic research to support or reject the hypothesis that targeted search results interfere with access to information.
Phase 3: Voluntary developer changes to search engine function to make targeted results clearly labeled and easily opt-outable.
Phase 4: Legislation to regulate the degree to which service providers can manipulate search results.

Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: 00.dusk on February 08, 2017, 07:59:55 pm
I don't disagree with that at all, in fact it's actually a fairly good point. I just think that there's good reason to aim higher than that in the long run.

Not saying you weren't aiming higher (I'm fairly sure you've thought this through in depth), primarily bringing it up in case that point (opt-in is better and worth aiming for) was non-obvious to others.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: Prelate Diogenes Shandor on February 09, 2017, 07:57:27 am
Personally I believe a worse problem is sites and forums where users can block off communication with other users and/or where the administrators suspend or ban people for reasons other than posting spam or illegal materials, or making personal attacks. These things ensure that people are not exposed to opinions that differ from their own and that forums are not exposed to opinions that differ from their party line.

EDIT:
Another, less related issue is that both sides push black-and-white thinking. The left acts as if there is no middle ground between respect and hatred, and the right would have you believe that the only alternatives to lassiez-faire capitalism are Stalinism and juche
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: LuciferX on February 10, 2017, 07:46:58 am
Currently overwhelmed by kayfabe leaking in to personal domain - really appreciate thread notwithstanding recent reticence.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: P3nT4gR4m on February 10, 2017, 12:12:23 pm
EDIT:
Another, less related issue is that both sides push black-and-white thinking. The left acts as if there is no middle ground between respect and hatred, and the right would have you believe that the only alternatives to lassiez-faire capitalism are Stalinism and juche

This isn't an issue, it's a feature. If either side was composed of rational, sane individuals civilisation in general would be way less of a hilarious clusterfuck of a thing.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: MMIX on February 10, 2017, 03:20:48 pm
EDIT:
Another, less related issue is that both sides push black-and-white thinking. The left acts as if there is no middle ground between respect and hatred, and the right would have you believe that the only alternatives to lassiez-faire capitalism are Stalinism and juche

This isn't an issue, it's a feature. If either side was composed of rational, sane individuals civilisation in general would be way less of a hilarious clusterfuck of a thing.



And there we go with that false equivalence shit again.
Title: Re: Are customized search results polarizing opinions?
Post by: LuciferX on February 11, 2017, 10:49:49 am
Circus fucking bread and wine.