20210709 Google Search Engine as “AI”

Google Search Engine as “AI”

Historical Discourses about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in Japan

Jun.9, 2021 AI and Society: New Media Literacy and Politics

Atsushi Udagawa, The University of Tokyo


New Media Literacy and Media Studies for the media infrastructure
Based on the understanding that “AI” is already everywhere as a part of infrastructure

  1. An analytical research of “AI” penetration in our life: Google Search Engine as “AI” (Udagawa)

1. Introduction

Atsushi Udagawa
PhD. Candidate, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies,
The University of Tokyo
Latest English publication: Historical Media Discourses of Search Engine Rankings in Japan”, Journal of Socio-Informatics 12(1) 1-13, 2019.

Work Experiences

  • 10 years as a software engineer in IBM Japan
  • 10 years as a UX designer and digital marketer in Rakuten (an e-Commerce company)
  • An insider of the “digital platform” trying to criticize itself

Research Interests

  1. Why digital platforms (or “AI”) become “black-boxed” in the society?
  • From a perspective of Media studies / Software studies
  1. How general users can tackle against the “black-boxed” platforms
  • From a perspective of Media Literacy / Software Literacy

What is a “black-box”?
  • "the way scientific and technical work is made invisible by its own success. When a machine runs efficiently, when a matter of fact is settled, one need focus only on its inputs and outputs and not on its internal complexity. ”
  • (Latour, 1999)

A black-box is not constructed by a platform itself but by users, who don’t care about technology inside. Because they believe they can get outputs successfully without thinking about processes.

2. Structure of the Doctoral Thesis

Research Question:
  • What actors have constructed and maintained the “black-box” of search engine rankings?

Study 1
  • Historical media discourses of PC magazines for general users:
  • How search engine rankings become “black-boxed” in the society?
Study 2
  • Historical media discourses among SEO community for webmasters:
  • How webmasters tried to “hack” algorithms of search engine rankings to open a “black-box” 

3. What is Search Engine Rankings?

An ordered list of webpages generated by a search engine (Google) on a user’s query