In the overarching grand scheme of things, what follows may seem trivial, mundane and beneath Google’s awesome sense of importance to warrant an official response of any kind. In any case, since Google has the technical ability to manipulate search results, thereby doing more potential harm to US democracy than any Russian hacker could imagine, the matter simply cannot go unattended any longer.
Mr. Sundar Pichai, as Google CEO, you are probably aware of a September 2016 article from Unz Review that discusses the listing – or rather delisting – of a number of American inventors, many of whom were household names once upon a time. But in one fell swoop, Google seems to have – deliberately or otherwise – designated these tinkering white guys to the digital dungeon.
To better understand what I am talking about, I would kindly ask you to take a moment and conduct a Google query for the subject ‘American inventors’. Once the query is complete, you will see at the top of the page a horizontal, photographic listing of individuals that Google offers as top examples of ‘American inventors.’ Here, Mr. Pichai, is where I am greatly confused.
In the search results provided, only two American inventors are of European lineage. They are Thomas Edison (6th place), and Alexander Graham Bell (10th place). Scrolling ahead further the situation does not improve for that diverse tribe of people known as ‘European Americans.’ I regret to inform you that just one pale-face representative of that talented race appears among the first 20 results.
To make things easier, here are the first 35 names that appear when a person performs a Google search for ‘American inventors’:
1. George Washington Carver (1864-1943), African American
2. Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928), African American
3. Garrett Morgan (1877-1963), African American
4. Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919), African American
5. Elijah McCoy (1844-1929), African American
6. Thomas Edison (1847-1931), European American
7. Lonnie Johnson (1949-), African American
8. Patricia Bath (1942-), African American
9. Granville Woods (1856-1910), African American
10. Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), European American
11. Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852-1889), African American
12. James Edward Maceo West (1931-), African American
13. Frederick McKinley Jones (1893-1961), African American
14. Thomas L. Jennings (1791-1856), African American
15. Otis Boykin (1920-1982), African American
16. Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), African American
17. Norbert Rillieux (1806-1894), African American
18. Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922-1999), African American
19. Sarah E. Goode (1855-1905), African American
20. Percy Lavon Julian (1899-1975), African American
21. Henry Blair (1807-1860), African American
22. George Robert Carruthers (1939-), African American
23. Henry Ford (1863-1947), European American
24. Eli Whitney (1765-1825), European American
25. Sarah Boone (1832-1904), African American
26. Janet Emerson Bashen (1957-), African American
27. Samuel Morse (1791-1872), European American
28. Ben Montgomery (1819-1877), African American
29. Valerie Thomas (1943-), African American
30. Andrew Jackson Beard (1849-1921), African American
31. David Crosthwait (1898-1976), African American
32. Nikola Tesla (1856-1943), European American
33. Albert Einstein (1879-1955), European American
34. Marjorie Joyner (1896-1994), African American
35. Alfred L. Cralle (1866-1920), African American
Sir, I think we could agree that something is wrong in Denmark. Thus, could you please relieve my curiosity and explain, in simply layman’s terms with graphs and charts if need be, how it is remotely conceivable that America’s most renowned innovators, including, but certainly not limited to, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Cyrus McCormick, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, the Wright Brothers, Elias Howe, Robert Fulton, George Eastman, Jonas Salk, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates all fail to feature in the top-30 search results for ‘American inventors’?
Incredibly, even the Wright Brothers, credited with being the first human beings to take flight in an aircraft, went mysteriously missing over the Google Triangle, nowhere to be found in the top 50 results! Has a search party been sent yet, Mr. Pichai? These most honorable men deserve to be found!
I probably do not need to tell you, sir, that of the top-20 ‘American inventors’ that Google provides in its search results, only Thomas Edison (6) and Alexander Graham Bell (10) appear like apparitions for Team Europe; all of the rest are African American inventors (whom, by the way, I have nothing but the highest respect for).
Henry Ford, whose mass produced Model T automobile revolutionized American transport and assembly line techniques, managed to get a spot at 23rd on the list. Nikola Tesla, the inventor of the alternating current (AC) induction motor, the power source used today in all commercial products, is certainly shocked to find himself at the end of the line at 32; Albert Einstein, no idle mind, mind you, fared worse at 33. Forgive my silly pun, sir, but relatively speaking Einstein no longer exists!
Clearly, something is seriously out of whack at your company, which conveniently passes off any and all suspicious behavior to the mystical inner workings of The Almighty Algorithm, the veritable god particle, as opposed to some deliberate manipulation on the part of meddling men. This brings to mind the wily wizard of Oz, the charlatan behind the curtain turning cranks and pulling levers in an endless effort to keep people in a suspended state of awe at the spectacle of some seemingly magical force that they are ill-equipped to rationalize. That appears to be our relationship with Google today, Mr. Pichai, which I find most regrettable.
Before continuing, it goes without saying that I have no wish to denigrate the many ingenious achievements and innovations of African Americans. This critique should in no way be confused, of course, as some sort of racist screed, but rather an argument that a reverse form of racism and discrimination appears to be gnawing away at the innards of Google, which as you know firsthand embraces the political and cultural values of the occasionally lunatic left. Perhaps you would agree this is not a matter of conjecture.
Just last month, the venerable Wall Street Journal reported on an internal email making the circuits on Google campus in which your devoted employees, distressed by Donald Trump’s just-announced plan for a travel ban against seven Islamic countries over terrorism fears, banged around ways to “leverage” search algorithms to tamp down such “islamophobic” tendencies.
Your spokeswoman, Gina Scigliano, reassured everyone this was just one big rumor burger, saying that “none of the ideas were put into effect.”
There’s just one glaring problem with Gina’s happy assurances: there is absolutely no possible way a single soul on Planet Google could prove or disprove her claim unless you’d be willing to hand over the keys to the kingdom. And let’s be honest, you have no more intention of doing that than you would voting Republican in November, right?
Speaking of elections, thanks to the whistle-blowing efforts of one of your jaded engineers, James Damore, we already know that Google has some serious issues with “politically conservative white men”. Apparently they are even booed and hissed at during company meetings, which sound more like Orwellian 15 minute hate sessions than anything. Would such misgivings for ‘privileged white males’ ever translate into active efforts to downgrade the technological achievements of these tinkering men, a beleaguered species that has been blamed for much of what is wrong with the world today? I think it would be terribly unfortunate if that were the case, but the writing on the wall speaks for itself.
We already know that Google can monkey wrench search results because the search engine it is developing for use in China – a perfectly innocuous operation code-named ‘Dragonfly’ – has the capability to censor undesirable results in accordance with the desires of the Chinese government.
Now sir, let’s be perfectly frank, not to be confused with Frank Lloyd Wright. If your omnipotent company is willing to casually dismiss such moral and ethical considerations to pacify a foreign (authoritarian) government, does it not stand to reason that it may also be very tempted to implement those same awesome powers to 'tweak' the political and cultural climate of the United States more to its liking? You know, play God, if you will? Even if that may mean sending the likes of the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford and Benjamin Franklin straight down the memory hole? The desire to manipulate an algorithm here and there, until it becomes modus operandi, is simply too tempting to honestly believe that it is not happening at your company.
Mr. Pichai, it is my belief, in light of all the issues I have just mentioned, that it is high time to pull back the curtain on Google to ascertain whether or not it is playing fair and square with the American people. Or, in the event that option does not appeal to you, there is always the possibility of smashing Google up, breaking its monopolistic grip over news and information. If it can happen to Ma Bell, Sundar Pichai, it can certainly happen to you.