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  • Rainey Knudson

The Search Engine of My Dreams (359 words)

From the card catalog days: Rosanna Arquette and Madonna in "Desperately Seeking Susan"

I’m old enough to remember thumbing through wooden card catalogs at the library in school. It was slow, sure, but even if you didn’t know what you were looking for, you knew that the finding was up to you.

 

Then came the Internet, and search “engines” that did the finding. Fast forward to around seven years ago, and I realized Google search had become a waste of time. It was clogged with shoddy websites that were flimsy fronts for pop-up ads, or worse. I changed my default search engine to Ecosia, which gives completely different, and generally much better, results. There are others—Duck Duck Go, Bing—and when I’m searching for something open-ended, I try different ones, because I find stuff that I would never have seen on Google alone.

 

But none of them are perfect. I thought AI, which is a kind of supercharged search engine, might be the answer. Right now it seems great, because there’s no way to game AI to improve rankings in its results. It doesn’t even have rankings. Those shoddy websites filled with ads? They no longer even enter my consciousness.

 

But I still wonder: what is AI leaving out? And who is in charge of the leaving out?

 

I’m still looking for the search engine of my dreams, which can scan every byte of data on the Internet in a nanosecond. It has a keen nose for excellent writing—meaning it can smell a garbagey website stuffed with synthetic dummy “content” from a mile away, and it would never try to fob one of those off on me. It may not be a person, but it thinks like one. It’s open-minded but not gullible. It doesn’t censor or edit, but it always helpfully reminds me to read with healthy skepticism: caveat lector.

 

Marketers and hackers don’t have a chance with it. It guards my privacy.

 

But more than anything, it are impeccably, spotlessly, trustworthy. With the search engine of my dreams, I never have to wonder: who’s in charge of these results I’m seeing? It gives me all the goods—all the good goods—and lets me come to my own conclusions.

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