Rabie Soubra

Communication and marketing specialist

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Google, Plato's cave and reality

Posted by rabie soubra on May 11, 2015 at 8:00 AM

One of Western Philosophy's more famous allegories is the allegory of the cave by Plato

The cave, in which prisoners have been kept there since childhood, and each of them is held there in a peculiar manner, they are all chained so that their legs and necks are immobile, forced to look at a wall in front of them. Behind the prisoners is a fire, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway, on which people live and walk normally.

The fire behind the walkway projects shadows of whatever passes in front of the fire, and the chained prisoners can observe those shadows and, with time, start to recognize them and distinguish them and deal with them as the true reality, because they are unable to turn and see the real world behind them.

The prisoners do not see people, they see shadows of people and think they are people.

They do not see dogs, they see shadows of dogs and think they are dogs.

And if they happen to be released and actually see real people and real dogs, they would not recognize them as such.

Today, that wall is Google search results, and only the first page. Little by little, reality to us is defined by that search. Whether the results are true or false is irrelevant. This is a routine undetaken daily by billions of people and affects the decision making process among those people.

The only difference between Google and the cave allegory is that in the allegory, Plato suggests a possibility of a way out, while today at least, there is no way out. 

Because, what is the alternative to Google?

Nothing

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