Boaz Miller 28.1.2015

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טכנולוגיות אפיסטמיות

Boaz Miller

The Sidney M. Edelstein Center for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine,
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Isaac Record
Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Information providing and gathering increasingly involve technologies like search engines, which actively shape their epistemic surroundings. Yet a satisfying account of the epistemic responsibilities associated with such technologies does not exist. We analyse automatically generated search suggestions to illustrate how epistemic responsibilities associated with a technology can be derived and assigned. Autosuggestions are collective, automatic, ampliative, involuntary, and interactively affect their users’ inquiry and belief formation processes. Together, this unique combination of features presents novel epistemic opportunities and challenges; e.g., autosuggestions may generate in searchers false, biased, or skewed beliefs about individuals or disempowered groups. Drawing on our theoretical framework that connects responsible epistemic behaviour to practicability and Miranda Fricker’s theory of epistemic injustice, we address two questions: First, given the different technological possibilities available to searchers, the search technology, and search providers, who should bear which responsibilities? Second, given the technology’s epistemically relevant features and potential harms, how should search terms be autocompleted? We argue that epistemic responsibility lies mostly with search providers, which should eliminate three categories of autosuggestions: those that result from organized attacks on the system; those that perpetuate damaging stereotypes about socially disadvantaged groups; and those that associate unwarranted negative characteristics with specific individuals.