What if everything on the internet WAS true?
Has anyone ever told you, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet”?
The internet is a wealth of knowledge, if you can dig down to what is true. Google has an idea to change all that. What if a search engine told you that their algorithm was based on fact checking, and that the top results they showed you were the “truth.” How does that make you feel?
Google is working on a theory that would rank pages based on their factual accuracy. To decide if the information on a website is a fact, Google would compare it to information in its Knowledge Graph.
Google Knowledge Graph is a system that processes facts about people, places, and things, and how they are all connected. It helps Google improve search relevancy, and present those Knowledge Graph boxes we have all begun to see at the top of our search engine results pages.
The definition of a fact is: a thing that is indisputably the case. In the scientific world you cannot really prove something to be a fact, at best it becomes an accepted theory. In mathematics, factual statements are decided by proofs. A proof traces a statement back to self-evidence know as axioms. In law, evidence decides on what is factual in the tier of facts. In search engine land, a fact will be decided by comparing the information with trusted reference sources. Such a basic process is fine if you are asking for the winner of the 1990 World Series. What if you want to know the properties of the universe better? Does Google deem string theory or loop quantum gravity theory the better answer? As the great Dr. Leonard Hofstadter said in Big Bang Theory, “I guess I prefer my space stringy, not loopy.”
What are the concerns about Google deciding what is fact based on a knowledge vault of common beliefs across the internet? Those with unpopular ideas are going to have trouble getting their ideas out there potentially. The internet has been a way for those “outside the box” thinkers to get ideas and theories out there. What if that was taken away? The majority of the population has been wrong before. Remember, at one time everyone thought the Earth was flat. The idea of stopping conspiracy theories, or wrong facts, from spreading is not bad, but who gets to be the judge of fact and fiction? Deep down it is hard to let anyone, or any algorithm, take that decision from you.
This system has not launched, there are just papers on it.
The question is, what do you want from your search engine?