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Here's the conversation we really need to have about Bias on Google



Many people were having fun this week of the lack of evidence that Mr. Trump sent to support his claim. But researchers point out that if Google somehow went rogue and decided to cast a choice to a favored candidate, it would only have to change a small part of the search results to do it. If the audience discovered evidence of such an event, it would look thin and unintended too.

"We must really have a much more sophisticated sense of how to investigate and identify these allegations," said Professor Frank Pasquale, professor at the University of Maryland Law School who studied the role played by algorithms in society.

In a law review article published in 2010, Mr. Pasquale outlined a way for regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to access search data to monitor and investigate bias requirements. Nobody has taken up that idea. Facebook, which also forms global discourse through secret algorithms, has recently outlined a plan to allow academic researchers access their data to investigate bias, among other things.

Google has no similar program, but Dr. Nayak said that the company often shares data with external researchers. He also argued that Google's results are less "customized" than people think, suggesting that search differences when they get up are easy to see.

"All our work is out there in the open-some may consider it, including our critics," he said.

Seek Predictions Reflects Real Worlds

The kind of blanket intentional disturbances that Mr. Trump claims would necessarily involve many Google workers. And Google is leaking: on hot-button issues – debates about diversity or about working with the military – politically minded employees have provided important information to the media. If there was yet another rumor that Google's search technology was skewed for political changes, we would probably see some evidence of such conspiracy in the media.

Therefore, considering researchers studying the issue of algorithmic bias, the more urgent concern is not about Google's conscious bias towards some major political party, but about the potential for bias against those who do not already have power in society. These people – women, minorities and others who lack economic, social and political assault – fall into the blind places of companies run by wealthy men in California.

In these blind places, we find the most problematic interference with Google, as it once suggested a spelling correction for the search "English Major who taught himself calculator" – the correct spelling that Google offered was " English major who taught himself ".


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