On Search Engine Stupidity

When I was younger, back in high school no less, I read Hans Moravec. Mind Children, an amazing book.

Verner Vinge, the Singularity. I’m there. The technological trends are there. Teilhard de Chardin, the noosphere. Got it. Human knowledge will become so massive, technology will be able to create minds better than ours, the next step in evolution will be as different from us as we are from Australopithecines.

By the way, I spelled “Australopithecine” correctly without having to look. Because I’m just that good. 😉

The point is, I’ve realized what will inhibit the Singularity.

Search engines.

Or rather, the ability of search engines to keep people from the things they want to know. Because they don’t know how to phrase it.

Or, worse, the ability of search engines to give people exactly what they want. Despite their spelling being for shit.

I always thought “alien pitchers” was bad. No, they’re not asking about Saavik, ace of the Starfleet Academy pitching staff.

Today, I saw something so mind-bogglingly stupid that… well, the mind boggles.

I’m now convinced that the Singularity won’t happen, and all because of Google.

Because it encourages stupidity. Not intelligence.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

4 thoughts on “On Search Engine Stupidity

  1. Not that I’m unsympathetic to the point you’re making here, but… I work in television closed-captioning for a number of cable channels, on shows covering a variety of subjects from Austrian violin-makers through fashion models from the 1970s, and Google’s fuzzy logic has frequently been a godsend when I need to find out how to spell something I’ve never heard of before on a show that needs to be encoded and on air in less than five hours’ time. Last week, a show featuring a segment about Clone Wars, that I should stress I *didn’t* work on, had “(Unclear)” in several places where the captioning should have read “padawan.”

    Just because something can be easily misused doesn’t necessarily make it useless in itself.

    Also, you misspelled “Australopithecine” in the sentence in which you were bragging about how well you spelled “Australopithecine.” Just sayin’.

  2. Now that about a day has passed, I can profer some explanations. *sigh*

    Cameron, your point is completely valid (and I can’t believe I misspelled the word “Australopithecine” the second time through).

    I was, in all honestly, incredibly angry.

    It has to do with the post I made on my friend’s son who passed away from leukemia last week. When I was going over my search stats last night and I noticed some egregious misspellings of his name — both first and last — yet they still managed to reach my blog and my post about Robbie through those misspellings… well, that really angered me. Because it struck me as really disrespectful. First, on Google’s part for parsing what the person meant. And second, for the searchers who couldn’t even get his name right.

    So, angry and furious, I tried to burn it off by making light. I’ve had the Singularity on the brain the past few days (see another recent post), and it seemed like a good way to vent the anger.

    I’m better now. 🙂

  3. I’m sorry to hear that, and I apologise for the semi-flippant tone of my comment; it’s my default mode of criticism, and I would have toned it down had I realised that your rant was born from something heartfelt. I understand completely where you were coming from, and I hope things get better.

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