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Notable Findings:  People are currently revealing almost 40 percent more sensitive personal information online than they would if they knew the risks.  In elections, biased search rankings - that is, search rankings that favor one candidate over another - can shift the voting preferences of undecided voters by 20 percent or more without them being aware they are being manipulated - up to 80 percent in some demographic groups.

 

Recognition: In December 2015, Science magazine (the flagship publication of the American Assciation for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest scientific association) recognized AIBRT's research on the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) as one of the top 10 science news stories of 2015. The National Academy of Sciences ranks AIBRT's recent paper on SEME to be in the top 1 percent of all scientific papers they monitor in all the sciences, both short-term and long-term. Ongoing research on SEME suggests that search rankings are having a significant impact on many of the most important decisions people make in their lives, not just on voting preferences. Because SEME is virtually invisible as a form of social influence, it is especially dangerous. 

  

Recent Publications

Epstein, R. (in press). The surprising impact of new technologies on everything we think, do, and say. New Internationalist.

Epstein, R. (in press). Cyber sway: How the internet messes with our minds without us even knowing it. Ladybeard.

Epstein, R. (2016, April 27). Google knows: In the future, Big Data will make actual voting obsolete. Quartz.

Epstein, R. (2016, February 18). The new mind control. Aeon.

Epstein, R. (2015, October 6). Google's hypocrisy. Huffington Post.

Epstein, R. (2015, September 6). Google's vote counts more than yours. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Epstein, R. (2015, September 4). Google's hypocrisy. Ora.

Epstein, R. (2015, August 19). How Google could rig the 2016 election. Politico.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R. E. (2015, August 4). The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its possible impact on the outcomes of electionsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.

Epstein, R. (2014, Fall). Democracy at risk from new forms of internet influence. EMMA Magazine (a publication of the European Magazine Media Association).

Epstein, R. (2014, June 9).  How Google could end democracyU.S. News & World Report.

Epstein, R. (2014, May 29).  Google critic killed in "ironic" car accident: Struck by Google Street View vehicle.  Huffington Post.

Epstein, R. (2014, May 9). Google's snoops: Mining our private date for profit and pleasure. Dissent.

Epstein, R. (2013, May 10). Google's gotcha. U.S. News & World Report.

Epstein, R. (2013, March 27). Google's dance.  TIME.

Epstein, R. (2012, November 5). Why Google should be regulated (Part 4, End). Huffington Post.

Epstein, R. (2012, November 2). Why Google should be regulated (Part 3).   Huffington Post.

Epstein, R. (2012, October 31). Why Google should be regulated (Part 2).  Huffington Post.

Epstein, R. (2012, October 23). Why Google should be regulated (Part 1).  Huffington Post.

Recent Presentations

Epstein, R.  (2016, May). The surprising impact of invisible influence on human thinking and behavior.  Invited talk to be given at the annual meeting of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, Washington, DC.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E.  (2016, April). Why is the search engine manipulation effect (SEME) so large?  A test of an operant conditioning hypothesis. Paper presented at the 96th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Long Beach, CA.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2016, April). A replication of the search engine manipulation effect (SEME), plus methods for suppressing the effect. Paper presented at the 96th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Long Beach, CA.

Epstein, R.  (2016, February). The new mind control.  Invited talk given at the Muhlenberg College Center for Ethics.

Epstein, R. (2015, October). Leader, brainstorming session on the search engine manipulation effect (SEME). Founder’s Forum, New York, NY.

Epstein, R. (2015, October). The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its possible impact on elections. Invited talk to be given at a meeting of the Committee on Science, Technology, and Law of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Washington, DC.

Epstein, R. (2015, October). The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its unparalleled power to influence how we think.  Invited talk to be given at the Stanford University Department of Electrical Engineering.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2015, April). The Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME): Large-scale replications in two countries. Paper presented at the 95th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Epstein, R. (2015, March). Panelist, “Digital absolutism: Time for a new people’s revolution?”  World Business Dialogue, Cologne, Germany.

Epstein, R. (2015, March). New forms of internet influence: Is democracy at risk?  Keynote address given at the annual CeBIT conference, Hannover, Germany.

Epstein, R.  (2015, March). The search engine manipulation effect (SEME): It’s large, robust, and a serious threat to democracy.  Talk given at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany.

Epstein, R. (2014, June).  Democracy at risk: The power of search engines to determine the outcomes of elections. Seminar presented at the School of Government, Development and International Affairs, University of the South Pacific.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E.  (2014, April).  Helping people preserve their privacy online: The surprising power of a click requirement. Paper presented at the 94th annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Portland, OR.

Epstein, R.  (2013, November).  The search engine as a threat to both privacy and democracy. Invited talk given at the 9th annual meeting of the Corporate Directors Forum, San Diego, CA.

Epstein, R., & Robertson, R.E. (2013, May). Democracy at risk:  Search rankings can shift voter preferences substantially.  Paper presented at the 25th annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, DC.

 

©2012, AIBRT