Gagi is a diversity centred search algorithm and engine that keeps the lived reality of the varied identities, colours and cultures in the world around us in mind and at your fingertips.
Inspired by Safiya Noble’s book Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism, I wanted to do something to change the landscape of search so people who aren’t just white, heterosexual men can have their selves, histories and desires reflected back at them, and their questions answered. Gagi is my solution. Assistant Professor Noble’s book resulted in Google changing their algorithm so a search for ‘black girl’ no longer returns porn but this is not true for other minorities, such as Asian women.
You can help create a more equitable digital universe by investing in Gagi.
As a use case you can go to Google right now and type in ‘asian girl’ and it will return 3 brothels as their place result and a porn site as their top search result. Keep in mind that I am searching from Melbourne, Australia and Google’s results are location and particularly, nation-state specific.
As an example, you can see below, a search I did on 23 October 2018 at 3:20pm and 3:24pm respectively using the key words asian girl.
Similar results are returned for a search ‘lesbian girl’ on the same date and from the same location. The top five results are all porn.
In fact, the entire first page of results are all porn sites:
Another Australian use case or case study is a search for ‘aboriginal girl’ which returns a result for a Quora Post on the first page of results that asks, “Do you find Australian Aboriginal women attractive?” and a racist answer that says, no which if I was Aboriginal I would find even more enraging than I already do.
These three use cases clearly show how skewed search results are towards the objectification of women as only objects to be consumed, bought or sold. This is problematic because it has long held true that one cannot become what one cannot see and if Google and search engines at large are anything to go by, all women can become are sex workers and porn stars. This representation is at odds with the diversity of women in the world, what we do and varied roles and occupations we occupy. It is a poignant example of gender inequity as it manifests online and how important it is to have an ethical position when creating technology not just for one demographic of search users but, the entire world. Policy that dictates we must abide by equal opportunity acts, laws that state discrimination is a crime and ads that seek to change sexist and violent behaviour are not reflected when we use search and that is a very big problem. Gender equality is a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal and search is a very long way behind achieving it. It is a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world online and off.