A Hero

 
Robert Epstein Testifying in a Congressional Hearing
 
Somehow, via various links to sites and podcasts and YouTube videos I came up an incredible and heroic man today named Robert Epstein (no relationship – I don’t think – to Jeffrey … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Epstein). He is a behavioral scientist involved in one of the most important scientific projects today: behavioral research on the Internet and particularly how the great search engine Google decides what information it wants us to see, not what we want to see. Yet, the line between the two seems to continue to get blurry as culture and society doesn’t really seem to know what “it” wants anymore. 
 
How the search engine Google is manipulating the thinking of 2 1/2 billion people around the world. 
 
A long time Democrat and Hillary supporter, he has a PHd in Psychology from Harvard and has won numerous acclodes for his scientic work and writings. In July of 2019, he went before Congress to testify on the “Google and Censorship” or how Google is controlling thought through algorithms, leaving little footprints by techniques called “ephermeral experiences.” He suggests that Google has already used its alogorithms to move millions of voters in the 2016 presidential election as well as the 2018 midterms. He suggests it can definitely sway millions of voters in elections, not just thousands. He has tracked all of this in his computer banks as his research evidence. 
 
See this testimony in Congress at …
 
I heard about him from an interview on Coast-to-Coast radio mentioning him and then followed a number of links to YouTube videos and podcasts.
* * *
A little background. I’ve had a long interest in Google and in fact wrote a peer-reviewed article on it that appeared in the leading Internet journal First Monday (in 2001) called “Electric Symbols” (https://ojphi.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/957/878). The article was about a lot of things but in many ways I saw Google and word search as representing modern symbols and being able to gauge new depths of the psyche. 
 
The abstract of the article reads: “The famous Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis posits a linguistic determinism arguing language plays a central role in creation of a worldview. In the sense that language is a product of words, one can say that a culture’s worldview is affected and influenced by the words of its particular language. Words both create and communicate worldviews. The greatest potential in history for the observation and analysis of words exists on the Internet. Indeed, the Internet can be considered history’s greatest observatory and laboratory of words.
In effect, I saw Jungian symabols making their appearance in the modern world disguised in “the clothing of the day” as Jung might say. What better symbols than “words” as Jung’s “clothing” of the times? Almost twenty years after my article, in spite of the rise of our image culture, words are still the great symbols in our culture. Words are the DNA of AI today, not images. 
* * *
Search words are becoming our modern “symbols” in the world. And, for the first time, I argued in my 2001 article, one could measure and learn much about the world from leading words searched for. It was an incredibly long article with all types of charts and graphs and examples that I still am not sure how I ever came up with. It got published in the prestigious First Monday Internet journal at the time and got me invited down to visit the VP of Publicity of Google. 
 
I remember that I drove down to see the VP at Google with my friend Bill. He was president of a well-known product licensing company and a good hiking friend and lived in Sebastopol near where I lived in Santa Rosa (the Valley of the Moon). Even at that time, a small university was beginning to develop at Google. Yet it was still a small, approachable company at this time and there were (yes) the pong tables and toys all about the place. The VP was a pleasant person who walked us through as much of the operations as he could at the time. I told him about my theories. He knew all about them. The paper had been passed around Google at the time. 
* * *
 
Robert Epstein has followed up on many of the ideas expressed in my “Electric Symbols” article of 2001. Google has become the global clearinghouse for electric symbols. Epstein knows this and sees the power in this. Watch his appearance on a TV program at …
 
Or, listen to one of his podcasts at  …
 
Epstein has established an Institute for Behavioral Research in Technology at …
 
And Interest studies at tthe institute at …
Images and Words
 
* * *
The story of Google has been told in novels and movies and television series. It will continue to be told because it is a continuing story and it is too big to tell all at one time.
But the story of Robert Epstein is one that has not been told.
 
And, needs to be.
 

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