Adam West. Anyone? Why sure, yes, you know him. Adam West played Batman in the 1960s version of the show. In fact, if you type Adam West into Google, here’s what you’ll get.
Interesting. None of these pictures are of Adam West, either in or out of costume. Rather, you get graphics of Batman. When actually, Batman was the secret identity of Bruce Wayne. When both were played by an actor, Adam West. Isn’t it interesting that without any mention of roles, secret identities or DC Comics, the algorithm knows (or better said, thinks it knows) what you’re searching for.
Smart? Algorithms that is. Pretty smart right? Yet, I feel bad for the 306 other Adam West’s of the US (according to howmanyofme.com) I mean, don’t they have rights? What if they wanted their name to pop to the top of the Google search? Instead, some actor from the 1960s rounds out the top several pages of Google search. I’m sure glad no other superhero was played by a fella by the name of Tony Hixon. I’d be having all sorts of troubles getting my name to stand out in the crowd.
Algorithms are great…when they work. But they don’t (and can’t) always assume what you’re thinking or looking for. They have simply ‘learned’ from the other thousands of searches that have gone before it, and when others have typed in Adam West, they were looking for Batman, so that’s what pops up for you. On the other hand, it’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? Turns out, Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote the first search algorithm for Google back in 1996, first known as BackRub (creepy company name IMO). The company Google was officially launched in 1998 and went public in 2004.
Google is the intentional misspelling of Googol, which is the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes. The name was picked to signify that the search engine was intended to provide large quantities of information. Over time, Google is reported to make significant, broad changes to their search algorithms “several times a year”. This means that they’re constantly improving the search to reveal to the consumer exactly what they are looking for. Because, let’s face it, Google’s revenue comes from advertising spending. So, if a consumer is looking for a garden rake, Google’s search algorithm will provide the best rake at the top of the search from the company that paid them the most advertising dollars.
But what if you’re not looking for a rake? Google helps with that too. You see, their company motto is a simple phrase: “Don’t be evil.” So, they offer organized and easy to use search results that don’t necessarily produce revenue for them, and in so doing, they do good to the search world. Implied example: Adam West. It’s unlikely that anyone searching that name desires to buy anything. But Google organizes the data for you so you can learn something about Batman and Bruce Wayne and they can live out their motto to not be evil.
All this talk of computers and algorithms and search engines and technology. Can all of this replace human thought? What about the way God created us to process and organize information? Our brains are not a computer. They run on the food and hydration we consume. And our brain inhabits about 2% of our total body weight yet consumes over 20% of our energy we spend on a daily basis. Think about that. Just thinking, processing decisions, memorizing things…consumes 20% of our body’s energy supply in a day. Pretty amazing huh.
You are not a computer. Google, while useful, doesn’t replace your need to think. It doesn’t supersede your need to take action. It doesn’t take the place of using 20% of your energy. God created you on purpose, for a purpose. Use your mind, your thoughts, your decisions, your actions…to impact the world. To make a positive contribution to society. To be kind to those around you. To solve the next puzzle. To make your mark on this world. To live well, and help others.
You are not a computer. You’re a created being.
May you, like Google, not promote evil…but seek to do good.
Author’s Note: I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please note that there will be no blog next Friday, as I will be celebrating Christmas with my family. Happy Holiday’s!