What Does Google Know?
Living with AIWhat Does Google Know?
We all know Google it's a vast web of machines that does amazing things like show everyone ads that are chosen for them personally. I get shown ads tailored to old people. Though Google gets it wrong a lot - I have no idea why they are so sure I have gutters to clean :-) And I can manipulate it a bit by being careful about which ads I click on and also what sorts of things I search for. (Hint: don't search for bomb making instructions :-)
I think that Google is an artificial intelligence but - hey - what is intelligence?
I'm not even sure how to be clear about that with humans or dogs and cats let alone a huge network of machines.
But Google shares many capabilities with people. It has a means of perception. It has memories. It has huge inference engines using that. And the inference engines do the things like deciding which ad to show me. But like I say - inference engines are pretty easy to fool. We all have experience of that sort of thing: a mirage is the result of a fooled inference engine. I don't think the output of the inference engine is what Google knows. Google knows that I've clicked on ads for sawmills but never for diapers. It knows my pattern of interests - that's information placed straight in their databases It infers from that that I'm an old guy.
I do that sort of thing all the time myself. I know that I just got a call claiming to be from the government and that I should call back to avoid being charged. I infer that the message is from a scammer.
I like thinking about how we share our mental capabilities with other forms of life. For instance - I don't think frogs have inference engines though I do think they know things based on perception. A frog sees flies and doesn't infer that there is food there - it just snaps out it's tongue and eats.
It's more than just the ads. I amuse myself writing computer code in a few languages. I often have to do searches to find the correct syntax or function call. After a search or two for those things it gets so I only have to type a few characters before Google starts offering me relevant choices - type another character and it's narrowed down to what I want. This is amazing - and my claim is that it's based on knowledge When I'm working with php google presents me with information relevant to php at a few keystrokes When working in python or linden scripting language the same thing happens.
So what does this all imply about knowing? Well - one thing - knowing is not a connection to some sort of absolute truth. It's something taken to be true but it can be mistaken (as with mirages) It does imply that knowing is similar to believing - we take what we know as fact without further examination. and it must be so - knowing is not a process of endless fact checking - it's being able to act in real time.
What do you think?