Tag Archives: technology

Google: Isolation, Transparency, Overload, or Selective Encyclopedia?

This month the European Union Court of Justice ruled that Google has to remove their search results if demanded, and hereby granted the ‘right to be forgotten online.’

Google responded that, “This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general.”

While Google is the nr. 1 resource for major parts of the world, it has had – rightly so – quite some questioning over the past years because of its ‘search personalization.’ Your search results are tailored by previous searches you have performed. Many people, still, don’t know this. While in many cases effective and relevant for both searcher and content out there, this search personalization also resulted in a certain degree of ‘bubbliness’ in searching. People who are, for example, very interested in Christianity will mostly find information from sources related in someway to their earlier (Christian) searches, and thus only get more entangled in related believes, opinions, and information, both restraining them from different perspectives and giving them a crooked world-view — resulting in a degree of isolation.

Yet, if you search through a different google account or from a different computer, you could still easily access the other information out there.

However, with this new development in Google’s rights this selectivity is taken to a whole other level. In a way this would mean the end of the Internet as we know it. Just as news-agencies now a days (greatly) determine how we see the world (e.g. we only know and see the conflicts in the Middle East through the images and texts the media present us with — news agencies are the lenses through which we view the world ‘out there’), this next step will close our access to the ‘real world’ even further down.

Although I strongly believe that the internet and technology are very powerful tools that we should treat and use with care, I am also convinced that transparency to a certain extent, despite the overload of information it’s currently resulting in, is crucial.

Have you ever given your search results a second thought? What do you think about this development?

 

Continue reading Google: Isolation, Transparency, Overload, or Selective Encyclopedia?

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Artificial Intelligence: Exciting or Frightening?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) — a fascinating topic, which I keep having trouble with wrapping my head around, perhaps because I simply don’t know enough about it.

I just watched Her from Spike Jonze, a beautiful and fascinating film that I would totally recommend watching, and it made me think again about the insane speed of technological development and the question whether we will ever create something that is smarter than us and will eventually overpower ourselves? And in turn, whether that would be a bad thing, or whether we should just consider that as some new development in Darwin’s evolutionary theory?

The biggest issue in this whole debate is the idea of machines or operating systems developing a conscience and way of independent reasoning — together with their ability to learn by experience, could this be potentially problematic to the world as we know it now: where we control merely everything that’s artificial?

People have been exploring this possible potential path in technological development for years, especially in science-fiction. Think, for example, about supercomputer Hall from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssee. In his article Is Google Making us Stupid (2008), Nicholas Carr parallels his own mind and what the internet does to us to the character of Hall. Carr describes his “uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain.” He compares his feeling with the famous scene with supercomputer HAL,  where astronaut Dave Bowman is disconnecting the memory circuits that control HAL’s artificial brain. Carr states, “My mind isn’t going – so far as I can tell – but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think.”

I’m sorry, I’m wandering off topic to an entirely different trend that’s going on, which is also very interesting but we’ll save that for another time (I can suggest some readings on that one if you are interested).

Let’s get back to the relevance of 2001: A Space Odyssee for the future of AI. I guess the biggest question right now is, once we are at the point where operating systems can develop independently, will we still be able to pull the plug, like Bowman does with HAL, if needed or desired?

Please note I’m not arguing against AI or to stop technological development altogether, at all — it allows us to do a lot of amazing things in many different fields (more about AI in general in the video below). As I mentioned before, I’m just not quite sure yet what my stance on this issue is. I am sure that I find this a fascinating topic — the dazzling speed of technological advancements  is starting to blur the line between science-fiction and science-prediction.

Curious to see what you think about (the future of ) AI. Call out!

Future of Technology

For the gadget lovers among us, the Google Glass project (launched about 2 years ago) is an exciting step forward we’ve all been waiting for. With the accelerating developments in technology, it was only matter of time until we would invent a way to superimpose our digital world, quite literally, upon our own ‘reality.’

Fun fact: about half a year before the Google Glass project was launched, me and a fellow student designed a futuristic tool in our critical design class that has quite a lot in common with Google glass. Perhaps our critical design is not so far from feasible at all. Check it out here: http://youtu.be/qM9vqDdvw6o?t=35s (don’t pay attention to the shakiness, rendering was not my best skill).

Update
Chris Kluwe explores the possibilities of Google Glass beyond empathy and user-comfort — what is the potential when Google Glass tools get combined with smart data and used to enhance performance and experience in divergent situations in his TED-talk.