Short Essay On Search Engines

Short Essay On Search Engines-65
Finally, in the concluding section, we briefly mention some impacts that search engines have for broader philosophical issues (especially in the area of epistemology) that may not be solely or mainly ethical in nature.However, an adequate analysis of these issues is beyond the scope of this entry.

Finally, in the concluding section, we briefly mention some impacts that search engines have for broader philosophical issues (especially in the area of epistemology) that may not be solely or mainly ethical in nature.However, an adequate analysis of these issues is beyond the scope of this entry.

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Why are search engines problematic from an ethical perspective?Our examination of important historical developments of this technology is intended to address our first question, noted above: “What is a search engine?” It also provides a backdrop for analyzing our second major question, “Why are search engines problematic from an ethical perspective?” where a cluster of ethical concerns involving search engine technology is examined.These include issues ranging from search engine bias and the problem of opacity/non-transparency, to concerns affecting privacy and surveillance, to a set of issues involving censorship and democracy.Our examination of key technical concepts underlying search engines is intended to provide a useful context for our analysis of the ethical implications.In this sense, Blanke (2005, 34) is correct that an adequate analysis of the ethical aspects of search engines “requires knowledge about the technology and its functioning.” We begin with a brief sketch of the history and evolution of search engines, from their conception in the pre-Internet era to the development and implementation of contemporary (“Web 2.0” era) search engines such as Google.Because search engines provide Internet users with access to important information by directing them to links to available online resources on a plethora of topics, many are inclined to see search engine technology in a positive light; some might also assume, as Introna and Nissenbaum (2000) and others note, that this technology is “value-neutral.” However, search engines can raise a number of ethical controversies.Before examining these controversies, however, we first briefly discuss the history of search engine technology via categories that, for our purposes, reflect four distinct eras: (i) Pre-Internet, (ii) Internet (pre-Web), (iii) early Web, and (iv) Web 2.0.While there is no shortage of definitions of “search engine,” none has been accepted as standard or universally agreed upon definition.For purposes of this entry, however, the definition of a (Web) search engine, put forth by Halavais (2009, 5–6), is “an information retrieval system that allows for keyword searches of distributed digital text.” We note that this definition includes some important technical terms and concepts that, in turn, need defining and further elucidation.

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