Understanding the Human Element in Search Algorithms (A7)

Date/Time: Sunday, July 16, 2017: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Coordinator/Moderator/Speaker: Susan Nevelow Mart, University of Colorado Law SchoolWm. A. Wise Law Library

Track: Reference, Research & Client Services

This program introduces a study of search algorithms in WestlawNext, Lexis Advance, Fastcase, Google Scholar, Ravel, and Casetext. Their algorithms are created by humans, who have made multiple choices about how the search will be carried out, and what material will be used to enhance search results. The researcher does not know what those choices were, but the choices have a dramatic effect on the search results each database returns. Every algorithm works in a unique matrix of assumptions, biases, and enhancements, which might be called an algorithmic worldview, and those worldviews vary widely. So even when the search and jurisdiction for the search are identical, each database returns unique cases that can add to the resolution of a legal problem. This program is sponsored by the RIPS-SIS.

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