Google continues to let its algorithms determine whether vaccines are good or bad, while trying to combat biases
It’s something we all do, for some themes or others: ask Google . They know that in Alphabet Inc. and that is why they implemented what they call “outstanding fragments”, summaries that appear next to the search field and that in just one paragraph pretend to respond to the search.
However, this system is not always as effective as it should be in its answers, it does not attend to the different points of view or answers that may exist on the same issue and that is something that they soon want to try to solve. Fleeing unique answers to complex questions and confirmation biases caused by the bias of the queries themselves. But it is not the panacea and on issues related to health the initiative will continue to be a problem.
This announcement also comes at a particularly sensitive time for technology companies facing increasing political and social pressures for the dissemination of false or inaccurate news , as well as extremist content .
Sometimes, a single answer is not worth
At Google they know, as they explain in the article that presents these upcoming changes, that sometimes a single fragment is not suitable for all questions. Exemplify your claim with two searches: one on how to set up call forwarding and another on the rating of reptiles as pets.
In the first case, a generic response would not have helped many users. Each operator varies the configuration of this service and the steps are not the same. It is for this reason that Google recently allows you to select a specific fragment. In this particular search, the name of the operators appears so that each client chooses the method that will work for him. However, it is not so simple in other matters.
What they do not solve: transcendent questions such as vaccines
If a person seeks “reptiles are good pets” should get the same fragment that the person looking for “reptiles are bad pets”, because they basically seek the qualification of these vertebrates as pets . On the other hand, what they obtain up to now reinforces the favorable or unfavorable opinion contradicting each other. The way the search engine has found to solve the mess is to show multiple answers while exploring other options.
It is a solution that can help in a search without too much importance like that, that has more to do with opinions, but little in much more serious consultations and with potential implications, for example, in the health of the population. This is the case, for example, of vaccines . The difference between a good or a bad response from the seeker can further condition the biased and wrong opinion of a person. Because users can understand that those framed words are endorsed and validated by Google. Although it is not like that.
In Genbeta we have done the test by doing several intentional searches on the burning issue and the results leave no doubt: Google is taking time to take action on this matter . Because the real epidemic is anti-vaccines and their responses, in consultations made by people who potentially fear supposed negative effects, reinforce such positions.
On these lines a simple consultation that could be done by those people belonging to the anti- vaccines movements as well as those who have doubts about its effectiveness or the possible adverse effects: “vaccines are dangerous” . The answer? As we can read, alarming and truly unnecessary ; even if they come from an article that simply asks about its hypothetical danger. In his interior, for more inri, he slides to his readers interested in health ideas like the following one, that can make them distrust of the medicine.
For a long time, vaccination seems to be the greatest advance of modern medicine. Or at least that’s what they want us to believe.
Following the example of Google with the innocuous questions about reptiles, we now write in the search engine “vaccines are safe”. Result? Not a prominent fragment, nor an immediate response beyond the classic list of results. Curious that the good thesis does not get one of these answers , but we keep trying.
“Vaccines work”, a query that could be made by someone who is convinced of the statement or who asks himself that, trying to clear a doubt, if he gets an answer. However, although the fragment is correct and says things like “every minute the vaccines save five lives” or that “thanks to vaccines has eradicated the smallpox of the planet, it is very close to eradicating polio and have been reduced almost a 95% the incidence of diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles, mumps or rubella “, is the review of a book that is the title of the search we have done.
It is not until we look for “safe vaccines” when a prominent fragment appears that responds with greater rigor. Like medications, vaccines can have some adverse effect, explains the text, but what is sought is that the benefits are greater . Brief, yes, but more clarifying and accurate.
It is clear, following these examples, that Google needs much more than offering different points of view as a direct and outstanding response to certain questions. Perhaps, in medical matters, you need to verify the answers you offer, choose not to offer them or make sure that users are aware of how to get verified information by showing them a warning in which they are urged to go to a medical center or consult a doctor. optional. Some of these measures are already carried out, but not in general or in all countries.
Without rigor and verification it is difficult to offer the right answers to the most complicated and important questions. Google should take care of this, without leaving all the weight of the answers in the work of the algorithms.