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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Google: Entering into Evil?

I recently wrote a paper about using Machiavellian theory in leading libraries. It can be found at http://www.michaellorenzen.com/machiavelli.html.

As we look at the current Update Jagger, it is time perhaps to take a philosophical look at Google. Does Google use Machiavellian techniques? I would argue that it does. Further, I would argue that it is appropriate for Google to do so.

Probably the most powerful (and controversial) idea that Machiavelli advocated for was the concept of "entering into evil." Here is a quote from my paper about what this entails:

"Perhaps the most powerful theme that Machiavelli postulates is the concept of entering into evil. In fact, it can be argued that it is the cusp of Machiavellian though set forth in The Prince. It also is an idea fraught with moral peril, which frightens off many from Machiavelli’s message. At times, a leader must commit evil acts for the common good. Further, failing to do this will actually result in a greater evil. "

"A good modern example of entering into evil is the case of President Harry Truman and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Truman knew that dropping the atomic bomb on these cities would kill hundreds of thousands of non-combatants including children. Based on the heavy causalities on Iwo Jima and Okinawa (coupled with Kamikaze planes), he also knew that a continuation of the war with an invasion of Japan would cost an estimated one million allied causalities plus countless more Japanese. With this in mind, Truman entered into evil and ordered the bombs to be dropped. By doing so, he created a greater good as Japan surrendered and the Second World War ended. "

Google needs to provide good search results. Failing to do so will harm the company and give searchers bad results. To do, it must constantly tweak the algorithm to weed out spam sites. In the process, some innocent sites get caught and removed from any meaningful Google rankings.

Google is fully aware of this. However, for the common good of their search results, Google is willing to enter into evil by allowing some innocent sites to be hurt. Failing to remove a few innocent here and there by not changing the algorithm would result in more spam in the SERPs. No amount of hand wringing will prevent all innocent sites from harm.

Google is clearly aware of this and rationalizes it as it should. Nonetheless, for a company that has the motto of "do no evil", it is interesting to see them repeatedly enter into the Machiavellian ideal of justifiable evil with every update.


Blogger security-label.co.uk said...

I agree with the posting, even though my site Security-label.co.uk has been one of the innocent websites hurt by the latest update.
All I can hope is that, over time google will make adjustments and the innocent sites will return to the SERPs, yet at the same time keeping the Spammers at bay. I just hope that it does not take too long!!

In the meantime I have been trying to make my site as good as I can with W3C validation, keywork density, and quality content.
I suggest that anyone in the same position as myself do the same.

All the best. Graeme

March 7, 2006 at 7:35 AM  

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