Fixing Bard with a Moma Badge As a Reward

February 17, 2023

I read an interesting news item from CNBC. Yep, CNBC. The story is “Google Asks Employees to Rewrite Bard’s Bad Responses, Says the A.I. Learns Best by Example.” The passage which caught my attention immediately was:

Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s vice president for search, asked staffers in an email on Wednesday to help the company make sure its new ChatGPT competitor gets answers right. The email, which CNBC viewed, included a link to a do’s and don’ts page with instructions on how employees should fix responses as they test Bard internally.

moma buttons okay

Hypothetical Moma buttons for right fixes to Google Bard’s off-the-mark answers. Collect them all!

I don’t know much about Googlers, but from what I have observed, the concept “answers right” is fascinating. From my point of view, Googlers must know what is “right.” Therefore, Google can recognize what is wrong. The process, if the sentence accurately reflects the wisdom of Sundar and Prabhakar, is that Google is all knowing.

Let’s look at one definition of all knowing. The source is the ever popular scribe, disabled, and so-so poet John Milton, who described the Google approach to fixing up its smart software by Google wizards, poobahs, and wonder makers. Milton pointed out his God’s approach to addressing a small problem:

What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason (reason also is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoiled,
Made passive both, had served necessity,
Not me. (3.103-111) [Emphasis added, Editor]

Serving necessity? Question: When the software and systems are flawed, humans must intervene … of necessity?

Will Googlers try to identify right information and remediate it? Yes.

Can Googlers determine “right” and “bad” information? Consider this: If these Googlers could, how does one explain the flawed software and systems which must be fixed by “necessity”?

I know Google’s senior managers are bright, but this intervention by the lesser angels strikes me as [a] expensive, [b] an engineering mess, and [c] demonstrating some darned wacky reasoning. But the task is hard. In fact, it is a journey:

… CEO Sundar Pichai asked employees to spend two to four hours of their time on Bard, acknowledging that “this will be a long journey for everyone, across the field.”

But the weirdness of “field” metaphor is nothing to this stunning comment, which is allegedly dead accurate:

To incentivize people in his organization to test Bard and provide feedback, Raghavan said contributors will earn a “Moma badge…”

A Moma badge? A Moma badge? Like an “Also Participated” ribbon or a scouting patch for helping an elderly person across Shoreline Drive?

If the CNBC write up is accurately relating what a senior Googler said, Google’s approach manifests arrogance and a bit of mental neuropathy. My view is that the “Moma badge” thing smacks of a group of adolescents in a high school science club deciding to create buttons to award to themselves for setting the chem lab on fire. Good work, kids. Is the Moma badge and example of Google management insight.

I know one thing: I want a Moma badge… now.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2023


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