According to Tim Berners-Lee, the most valuable aspect of the Internet is that it gives people equal access to information. He hoped that the World Wide Web would help humans to organize their existing knowledge and make available what they did not know in a decentralized and non-discriminatory way (Alex, 2019). Cultural diversity on the Internet is a broad concept. With the intense debate about the plurality of the internet and people have shown concern about the impact of the lack of diversity on the internet. This essay will look at how the lack of diversity affects the development and innovation of the Internet, both from an individual and societal perspective.
Market and monopoly
Over the 19th century, technology developed significantly. Since then, technology has been considered a ruling force, and technical and development have become politically correct (Chin,2019). The impact of a lack of diversity on the Internet is reflected in the monopolization by giant technology companies in the market. The immediate effect of a monopoly is that the corporate abuses its market power to gain or copy competitors to capture market share. It prevents competitors from threatening their position and restricting growth (Ezrachi,2021, page 88). For example, Google uses its monopoly search engine to push (pop up) travel plans to users that they want them to see and choose, explaining that this is “ the best option”. Google is bringing more of its own travel business into the search results, directing more traffic to the combined travel pages, and integrating more travel products into Google Maps (Schaal, 2019) This has hit competitors hard, as it was “unfair” competition from the start. This highly limits the development and innovation of the market and society. Even though the user experience is constantly emphasized, users will lose their judgment and choice and everything will become homogenized.
Another example is the video’s (Tech Monopolies: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver) reference to Amazon’s third-party sellers, who say that if Amazon officially shelves the same products, they will start liquidating and taking down their products immediately because they know they have absolutely no chance of winning. As Amazon not only runs the marketplace but also has access to the data of all independent sellers. Consequently, the monopoly can rely on its power and position to dominate the market. The monopolist can dictate prices, quality, and other companies in the field, and everything is at the monopolist’s disposal. Assuming that the monopolist lacks the appropriate values and sense of responsibility, the market is prone to problems.
A monopoly would speed up the influence and control of capital over society. Because human habits are transformed by material technology; the material things that we ordinary people use is the material things that technology companies want us to use; the spiritual needs that we ordinary people have are the needs that technology companies want us to have.
Algorithms and bias
“Algorithms are harnessing volumes of macro- and micro-data to influence decisions affecting people in a range of tasks, from making movie recommendations to helping banks determine the creditworthiness of individuals” (Barton, 2019) In terms of culture, the lack of diversity in the development of the Internet leads to a shortage of fairness. Which can be seen in the bias of the algorithms against gender and race. Behind every data-driven decision lies a set of human judgments, and the biases, stereotypical influences, and worldviews of those designing the algorithm are ‘inherited’ by the algorithm (Demand @ASME, 2018) .
Safiya Noble is an information researcher who authored the book Algorithmic of Oppression. In this YouTube video on Challenging the Algorithms of Oppression, she mentioned that since 2009 she has been concerned about the results for black girls in the Google search engine. The pornographic search result “sugar black pussy” dominated the first page, which severely distorts and sexualized the representation of women of color. And a search for ‘beautiful’ shows young white women, a ‘concept of beauty presented under the hegemony of white society. It reinforces gender and racial stereotypes. In particular, the reputation and auto-suggestions of Google influence the search engine landscape and indirectly dominate the Internet’s memory by spreading these “prejudices” by osmosis. This is bad for the development of girls of color who are at a loss, searching and exploring the world.
Problems arising from algorithmic bias are numerous. In 2015, Google’s new Photos app identified black users as gorillas. Google+’s chief architect, engineer ntan Zunger, quickly responded on Twitter:- “This is 100% not .” (Jessica Guynn,2015) Everyone was shocked by such a recognition result and soon the head of Google in question apologized for the incident. At Google, 7 out of 10 employees are men. The majority of employees are white (60%) and Asian (31%). Latinos make up only 3% of the workforce and African-Americans make up only 2% (Jessica Guynn,2015). This figure is a direct reflection of the tiny percentage of people of color working at Google, and if this percentage of people could gain a significant increase, the probability of a similar situation would drop. It is undeniable that algorithms do not guarantee accurate identification, but the lack of diversity in these Silicon Valley technology development companies causes the system to amplify the raw bias of the data.
If these prejudices are not stopped straight away, the homogenization of society will form a vicious circle: 1. The development of the internet makes it possible to spread information quickly, allowing many people to see one thing at the same time – 2. After a certain period, people may have similar thoughts (likes and comments).- 3. The consequence of many similar thoughts is that people do many of the same things. The fact that these issues are constantly being raised proves that many societies have recognized the importance of diversity. Homogenous teams and uniform thinking are a block to innovation. However, it will be difficult to achieve “true equality” in the short term, but there is an emerging trend and we know we must promote diversity in all areas. If we put the right structures in place, not only will women benefit, but other disadvantaged groups will too.
In conclusion, diversity reflects the shape and structure of society, and the internet as a medium and platform will directly reflect this outcome. In our modern and complex social structure, there is an inevitable need for a variety of cultures to serve the development and progress of society. It is hoped that the internet will ultimately serve these cultural forces in the development of society, creating a new theoretical meaning in the beauty of the differences of cultural diversity and allowing people to observe and examine development from many perspectives. The governance of the network and the lack of diversity must be considered in particular, making the online environment inclusive.
Barton, N. T. L., Paul Resnick, and Genie. (2019, May 22). Algorithmic bias detection and mitigation: Best practices and policies to reduce consumer harms.
Chin, W. (2019). Technology, war and the state: Past, present and future. International Affairs, 95(4), 765–783. https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iiz106
Demand @ASME. (2018, April 4). Understanding Bias in Algorithmic Design. ASME ISHOW / IDEA LAB.https://medium.com/impact-engineered/understanding-bias-in-algorithmic-design-db9847103b6e
Ezrachi, A. (2021). (page 88)p. 88Monopolies and the abuse of market power. In A.Ezrachi (Ed.), Competition and Antitrust Law: A Very Short Introduction (p. 0). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780198860303.003.0010
Hern, A. (2019, March 12). Tim Berners-Lee on 30 years of the world wide web: “We can get the web we want.” The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/mar/12/tim-berners-lee-on-30-years-of-the-web-if-we-dream-a-little-we-can-get-the-web-we-want
History of the Web. (n.d.). World Wide Web Foundation. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://webfoundation.org/about/vision/history-of-the-web/
Jessica Guynn. (2015). Google Photos labeled black people “gorillas.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/07/01/google-apologizes-after-photos-identify-black-people-as-gorillas/29567465/
LastWeekTonight (Director). (2022, June 13). Tech Monopolies: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXf04bhcjbg
PdF YouTube (Director). (2016, June 16). Safiya Noble | Challenging the Algorithms of Oppression. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRVZozEEWlE
Schaal, D. (2019a, April 16). Google Maps Is Ready to Transform the World of Superapps: A Skift Deep Dive. Skift. https://skift.com/2019/04/16/google-maps-is-ready-to-transform-the-world-of-superapps-a-skift-deep-dive/
Schaal, D. (2019b, November 7). Google’s Travel Gains Levy Pain at TripAdvisor and Expedia. Skift. https://skift.com/2019/11/07/googles-travel-gains-levy-pain-at-tripadvisor-and-exp