It’s true, as Gingras said, that these algorithms will never be perfect. But that shouldn’t absolve Google. This isn’t some naturally occurring phenomenon; it’s a problem of Google’s own creation.
The question is whether the company is taking enough steps to fix the problems they’ve created systematically, instead of tinkering with individual issues as they arise. If Alphabet, Google’s parent company with a nearly $700 billion market cap, more than 70,000 employees, and thousands of so-called raters around the world vetting its search results, really does throw all available resources at eradicating ugly and biased results, how is it that over the course of just about a dozen searches, I found seven that were clearly undesirable, both because they’re offensive, and because they’re uninformative? Of all the things I could be asking about white supremacy, whether it’s “good” hardly feels like the most relevant question.
“It creates a world where thoughts are put in your head that you haven’t thought to think about,” Venkatasubramanian says. “There is a value in autocomplete, but it becomes a question of when that utility collides with the harm.”