by Eric Zuesse, Washington’s Blog:
On November 18th, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt spoke about how Google will help to defeat Russia. He said that Google helps in this effort not by “censoring” Russian newsmedia, but by “de-ranking” them in Google web-searches, so that web-pages from these sites, which he calls “propaganda,” will show so far down in the rankings in any Google-search, so that users of Google will not encounter (or will be vastly less likely to encounter) Russian sites — or any other non-mainstream sites (such as this one), which refuse unquestioningly to trumpet government lies.
Schmidt was speaking to the NATO-sponsored Halifax International Security Forum, which is headquartered actually in Washington DC, though “The Forum is best known for its annual security summit in Halifax, Nova Scotia” in order to strengthen Canada’s bond to America’s anti-Russia military alliance, NATO.
Schmidt’s full speech, and the Q-and-A’s after Schmidt’s presentation, are shown complete in the video here:
Since no transcript was provided, extensive excerpts from the video will be quoted here.
At the video’s start, it’s marked as 1:51:38, and at its end, it is marked as 0:00:00, but only the end-marking shows in the video while it’s running, and that end-marking indicates the number of minutes-till the video’s end. I therefore provide both markings [with the minutes-from-the end being shown in brackets like here], because the video’s producers had made unusually difficult the finding and location of anything that’s said in Schmidt’s war-speech presentation. The presentation wasn’t addressed to the publics of NATO-member countries, but instead to scholarly and financial elites in those countries, people whose own careers are in service to these nations’ aristocracies (people who themselves are highly invested in their nation’s military-industrial complex). It thus reveals some things that Schmidt might prefer that the public not know.
The host here is Jonathan Tepperman, Editor-in-Chief of a NATO mouthpiece, Foreign Policy magazine. Amongst the advertisers in his NATO magazine are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrup Grumman, and other firms that especially benefit from increasing ‘defense’ expenditures throughout NATO. NATO is the chief marketing-organization for America’s weapons-makers, and Schmidt’s presentation was 100% pro-NATO.
Schmidt starts [at -42:50] by answering Tepperman’s opening question about what Google is doing to “fight extremism” (as if NATO even really cares about that, instead of about conquering Russia — which it was actually created and designed to fight against). Schmidt answered:
All of the democratic countries are facing lots of these challenges together. …
This opening thus pretends that “extremism” is a problem that’s somehow distinctive to ‘democratic countries’, and that the U.S. is such (‘democratic’), and that Russia and China (which will constitute the villains in his presentation) are the opposite; so, Schmidt’s opening frames the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’ in the way that NATO does, as if Russia and China weren’t against terrorism at least as much as NATO countries are. Schmidt’s opening by bringing up “democratic countries” as the supposed “us” or “we,” who constitute the ‘good guys’, has immediately taken Tepperman’s amorphous characterization of the enemy, as being ‘extremism’, and is pivoting it instead in the direction against Russia, which Schmidt quickly condemns, in his answer here, to Tepperman’s question, which was allegedly about “extremism.” Schmidt said (and it’s instructive to see him pivot here):
1:10:00 & [-41:50]: Ten years ago, I thought that everyone would be able to deal with the internet, because the internet, we all knew, was full of falsehoods, as well as truths. … crazy people, crazy ideas, and so forth. But the new data is the other side, actors that are trying to either spread misinformation, or worse, have figured out how to use that information for their own good. … My own view is that these patterns can be detected, and that they can be taken down or deprioritized. One of the problems in the industry is that because we came from a more naive position, that illegal actors would not be so active, but now faced with the data, and what we’ve seen from Russia in 2016 and with other actors around the world, we have to act. … [-40:45: The Foreign Policy magazine interlocutor, Tepperman, now introduces ‘fake news’ into the question, along with ‘violent extremism’, so as to ease the way for the switch-of-focus to Russia and away from jihadists, which Schmidt is carrying out, and so Tepperman asks “Say a little bit more about how companies like yours can play in the fight against fake news and violent extremism” — both of which are things that Eric Schmidt and Google actually help the U.S. regime to plan and organize]. Schmidt answers: Alphabet created a new company Jigsaw, whose primary purpose is to analyze and pursue these. … The most important thing I think that we can do is make sure that as the other side gets more automated, we also are more automated. The way to think about it is that much of what Russia did was manual, literally troll-farms as they’re called of human beings in Moscow; we know this because they were operating on Moscow time, when they were appearing to operate in Virginia, Ohio, Wyoming, and so forth [he provided no source for that allegation]. … We started with a position, the American general view, that bad speech will be replaced by good speech, in a crowded network; and the problem in the last year is that that may not be true in certain situations, especially when you have a well-funded opponent, who is trying to actively spread misinformation. So, I think everybody is sort of grappling with, where is that line. … Our opponents are getting very good at circumventing our various checks and balances.
He then said that Google “takes down” false information “very fast” “very fast take-down policies,” but that “we don’t yet know how to do it in much less than a minute and a half” but that this is the goal: “the publishing time of evil content is exactly zero.”
Both he and the Foreign Policy editor discussed the matter here as being one in which Google’s parent company, Alphabet, won’t be publishing (won’t be allowing in a web-search the finding of) anything that’s ‘illegal’. The presumption here is that all falsehood might be ‘illegal’ and that no truth is or can be ‘illegal’. In other words: the presumption is that only “fake news” is or can be “illegal.” Of course, no one knows whether Mr. Tepperman or Mr. Schmidt actually believe this, but it’s the obvious joint assumption in their presentation.
What Google does is we do ranking. … I am strongly not in favor of censorship. I am very strongly in favor of ranking. … You would de-rank, that is lower the rank, of information that was repetitive, exploitative, false, likely to have been weaponized. …
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