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Should Search Engines Have a Conscience?

By Computerworld

December 11, 2009



The recent appearance of a racist image of First Lady Michelle Obama during a search using Google's search engine motivates an interesting question: Should search engines have a conscience?

Obviously, search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! that rely on highly complex algorithms to determine search results have no intentional bias or inclinations that influence their searches. To suggest otherwise would be to anthropomorphize what is simply an immense and complicated set of computer code.

But that code is a creation of its individual developers and team of developers, each of whom has a conscience. And it is also a product of the company for whom they work. A company can't have a conscience, you might think. To the contrary, every company, because it is comprised of individuals, has a conscience (it's called a corporate culture).

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