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Google, Crowds and Mobs

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Abstract

In this paper I look at what we want from a search engine, and what we’re currently getting (with Google, pre-eminently). I argue that piggy-backing search results on past users’ behaviour means that, instead of following a wise crowd, users are increasingly following foolish mobs. The result is that search is very useful indeed in many ordinary contexts, but in more specialised contexts – and particularly the contexts that academics are often in – search is of increasingly limited use.

About the speaker

Thomas Simpson is engaged on a PhD entitled ‘Trust on the Internet’ at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Cambridge, and is sponsored by Microsoft Research Cambridge. Before returning to philosophy, he served five years with the Royal Marine Commandos (NI; Baghdad; Helmand Province). His research interests are in testimony and social epistemology, trust, applied ethics in the philosophy of technology, and the ethics of war.

This talk is part of the Arcadia Project Seminars series.

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