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by Brian Schrader

Can we save the open web?

Posted on Sat, 19 Mar 2016 at 02:26 PM

Dries Buytaert on the dominance of large corporations and their algorithms:

[T]he internet has changed drastically over the last decade. It's become a more closed web. Rather than a decentralized and open landscape, many people today primarily interact with a handful of large platform companies online, such as Google or Facebook. To many users, Facebook and Google aren't part of the internet -- they are the internet.

According to a recent study from the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, information displayed in Google could shift voting preferences for undecided voters by 20 percent or more -- all without their knowledge...

It's possible that we're reaching the point where we need oversight for consumer-facing algorithms. Perhaps it's time to consider creating an oversight committee. Similar to how the FDA monitors the quality and safety of food and drugs, this regulatory body could audit algorithms.

Just my initial thoughts, but I like the idea of having some agency oversee these large corporate algorithms. They play such a huge roll in our lives, and there's a large incentive for companies to manipulate their users to their own benefit. Facebook and Google especially have proven that they can do this extremely effectively, and like Dries' says, "without their knowledge". If we're going to allow these kinds of algorithms to be such a huge part of our lives, which I don't believe is necessarily a bad thing, then they should at least be subject to some sort oversight. At the very least, we could enforce a sort of Programmer's Hypocratic Oath or something.

Can we save the open web? →

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