Google: A Magic Leap

October 14, 2014

Is it true that if one bets on enough race horses, one will win? Seems logical to those who hang out at Churchill Downs I suppose.

Miles away from the race track, I found the audiences I addressed at last week’s intelligence and law enforcement conference skeptical of Google’s search results. In 2013, there was more surprise when I demonstrated how queries for “twerk” did not involve too much “search.”

After the sessions, attendees commented on how much work is required to ferret out relevant results to queries. The notion that LE and intel professionals had to learn command line syntax to get useful information was a situation I did not think would arise. Hey, Google has smart software, artificial intelligence, the world’s fastest search engine, yada yada.

Searching Google is actually difficult if one wants to answer certain types of questions; for example, who in Scotland sells tactical shotgun silencers. Give that query a whirl in your spare time.

I read “Google Set to Lead Huge Investment in Magic Leap and Its “Cinematic Reality”. The write up provides a surprisingly poignant glimpse of into the Google business machine. Google is no longer content to borrow notions like head mounted mobile phones. Google wants to lift beyond big balloons which rhymes with “loons.” Google does not want to solve death.

Nope. Google is betting that it can invest in companies and tap into a new, swelling revenue stream. Search, it seems, has become an optimization task for the Googlers. The future lies in “cinematic reality.”

Google wants to be the lead elephant in the investing parade for Magic Leap. You can work through the original document to get a sense of the Fancy Dan augmented reality technology Magic leap allegedly possesses.

My view is that Google has to find a way to sustain revenue growth. Search is not the prize winning stallion it once was. I assume that Google believes that investments in companies that deliver magic will produce big bucks.

For me, I am concerned that the utility of the Google search system will continue to decrease for the types of research I do. If the feedback I received from LE and intel professionals is representative, there are a number of serious individuals who want a Google search to return relevant results, not ads and promotions for Google products and services.

I am all for magic, but magic involves tricks. Search requires more than wild bets and a faith in magic.

I do not crave a more realistic three dimensional experience. I am okay with a system that:

  1. Includes useful content in an accessible interface. Google’s convoluted blog search is not what I call accessible.
  2. Presents results that are in line with needs of the user, not the needs of the advertiser.
  3. Provides more frequently refreshed indexes for pages with content that are not focused on Dancing with the Stars, vacations, and hotels.

I want some of that old time search magic. Maybe a futuristic, robotic pony clone will make Google billions. I prefer a search donkey that gets the job done. Onward, precision and recall.

Stephen E Arnold, October 14, 2014


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