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BEHOLD: Google’s New Gods of Truth

Patrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

Google claims it has the solution for saving the human race from its age-old nemesis: lying.

The digital giant has assembled a crack team tasked with devising a search engine and database model which measures the trustworthiness or ‘truth’ of an internet article or website.

Currently, Google uses an objective formula of rating web posts and sites by counting the number of incoming links along with a few other attributes – all of which determine its visibility in your web searches. That’s all set to change, however…

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Under Google’s proposed system, a computer will instead count the number of ‘incorrect facts’ and then rate the page according to a ‘Knowledge-based Trust Score’.

Google’s brain trust explains, “A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy.”

How the system is designed to work is through Google’s giant army of online ‘fact-checking bots’ which gather and compile Google’s ‘knowledge’ into a massive database called a ‘Knowledge Vault’. Their software works by tapping into the Knowledge Vault – the vast store of facts that Google has pulled off the internet. Facts the web unanimously agrees on are considered a reasonable ‘proxy’ or representation of the truth. Web pages that contain contradictory information are bumped down the rankings.

There are some obvious problems here, the most fundamental of which Google and others seem to have missed. The system claims it can check ‘incorrect facts’ but cannot always determine the context in which these were presented. Also, it will not count the number of correct ‘facts’.

Bots do not think, they just execute. Clearly, this system is only as good as what Google decides are its baseline markers or web sources for the truth. A level of bias would be built into the system by programmers. It could become a tool which is programmed to shoot down any pages which mention views or opinions which are not ‘official’ – a high-tech way of burying large sections of information online. More importantly, what Google geeks and aspiring technocrats are missing here, or perhaps do not yet understand (will they ever understand or do they want to?), is that no matter how much computing power or Artificial Intelligence (AI) you have at your disposal, you cannot  automate facts, or the truth. Both of these are subjective, and can only be agreed upon – and even then only temporarily – after many rounds of discussion, debates, adjustments, presentations and publications. For Google to even think that it can play god in this respect speaks more to Google’s radical pragmatic, or ‘Tyrell Corporation’ mindset, than it does to anything rational or democratic.

So if the Scientific Age of Enlightenment was man’s revolution, then Google’s new ‘Internet of Truth’ metric is the counter-revolution.

Establishment hacks and corporate scribes who write for mainstream publications are celebrating this as Google’s triumph over the unwashed masses online who are generating too much ‘bad information’.

Writer Hal Hudson from the New Scientist, “The internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free “news” stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – rank websites according to their truthfulness.”

Of course, even if this were the problem, the answer is not for Google to come up with a new program to ‘fix it’ in order to make any uncomfortable truths or even questions  disappear under a digital heap of consensus reality binary. Here is where Google transitions from being a mere facilitator (search engine) for truth, into becoming the arbitrator of truth.

Perhaps the simple answer here is for people to become better at two basic disciplines: comparative studies and critical thinking. Hold on. Wait a minute. Isn’t that one of the main purposes of a university education, and isn’t the goal of a modern society to make sure that each generation is receiving a better education than its predecessor?

Well, it was, but that was before Google’s new ‘gods of truth’ arrived on the scene.

To date, there is no software solution that can fix society’s biggest curse of the modern technocracy – laziness.

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Author Patrick Henningsen is a geopolitical analyst and founder of 21st Century Wire. A previous version of this article was first published in New Dawn Magazine.

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