Bing: The Decision Engine = Terminator

Bing: The Decision Engine = Terminator

Does it scare anybody else that some marketer thought that "Bing: The Decision Engine" would be an effective slogan?

Does anybody else sense an Artificial Intelligence sci-fi thriller here?

Ever since Bing first made its appearance, I have been freaked out by it. I think I have used it three times. And it is just a search engine, like any other search engine. It takes past choices and friends' choices into account when giving you results, but it is just a search engine. What scares me more than a search engine misnomer is the idea that people find it attractive to have a computer make decisions for them.

Hasn't anybody seen Terminator?!

All joking aside, why would you want a computer to tell you want you want? Sure, it's making that prediction based on your choices in the past. Sure, it's easier to just let it decide rather than weigh all the options yourself. But really? Where is there room for development? Change? A natural growth? When did you cease to think for yourself and begin to rely on that computer? How far does it go? After it tells you where you would like to go for dinner, will it tell you how you would like to raise your children? Who you would vote for in the next election?

That is what scares me more than Bing. It scares me that enough people are tired of thinking that some advertising executive knew that "The Decision Engine" would be an effective slogan.

I think there are some weird, new trends in decision-making. The current, most PC method is this: You make your own decisions known, "I made some great whole-grain granola with locally grown items I bought in bulk from Whole Foods and (insert ethnic store here). So excited!" But, on the flip side, you keep all global opinions to yourself: You just quietly look down on people (or look away) as they throw out their glass bottles or let their children eat foods with red dye #4. You would never come out and say that everybody should make granola like you! That would just be presumptuous, or offensive, and you would never-tell other people what to do with their lives! But at the same time, you really think that local, home-made granola is the way to go.

The opposite of that are the "crazy liberals" or "crazy conservatives" or "crazy Christians" or "crazy Atheists" who drive around with their bumper stickers and t-shirts that tell everybody how to vote, who to love, and what to think. And although it can be annoying, I'd rather have the "crazies" tell me their opinions than have a computer tell me mine.

Let me filter through the crazies and try to decipher the opinions of the never-tells. Let me use my brain to decide my decisions, rather than letting Apple or Google or Microsoft or... who, exactly, is making this search engine? Who are its biggest advertisers? And just how often do you think their "choices" come up in comparison to all the rest?

Sure, they may be unbiased now, but what about after our brains have been turned off for a few years and we stop examining our choices?

I know these are a lot of questions, and I think you know the kinds of answers I would give you. But fire up that brain again, and decide for yourself.

(Editor's Note: This article is courtesy of this week's guest blogger, and my best friend's wife, Laura Brautigam Anderson - you can check out her blog by clicking here. Thanks, Laura!)

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