Weaponizing AI Information for Rubes with Googley Fakes

December 8, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

From the “Hey, rube” department: “Google Admits That a Gemini AI Demo Video Was Staged” reports as actual factual:

There was no voice interaction, nor was the demo happening in real time.


Young Star Wars’ fans learn the truth behind the scenes which thrill them. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. One try and some work with the speech bubble and I was good to go.

And to what magical event does this mysterious statement refer? The Google Gemini announcement. Yep, 16 Hollywood style videos of “reality.” Engadget asserts:

Google is counting on its very own GPT-4 competitor, Gemini, so much that it staged parts of a recent demo video. In an opinion piece, Bloomberg says Google admits that for its video titled “Hands-on with Gemini: Interacting with multimodal AI,” not only was it edited to speed up the outputs (which was declared in the video description), but the implied voice interaction between the human user and the AI was actually non-existent.

The article makes what I think is a rather gentle statement:

This is far less impressive than the video wants to mislead us into thinking, and worse yet, the lack of disclaimer about the actual input method makes Gemini’s readiness rather questionable.

Hopefully sometime in the near future Googlers can make reality from Hollywood-type fantasies. After all, policeware vendors have been trying to deliver a Minority Report-type of investigative experience for a heck of a lot longer.

What’s the most interesting part of the Google AI achievement? I think it illuminates the thinking of those who live in an ethical galaxy far, far away… if true, of course. Of course. I wonder if the same “fake it til you make it” approach applies to other Google activities?

Stephen E Arnold, December 8, 2023

Gemini Twins: Which Is Good? Which Is Evil? Think Hard

December 6, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I received a link to a Google DeepMind marketing demonstration Web page called “Welcome to Gemini.” To me, Gemini means Castor and Pollux. Somewhere along the line — maybe a wonky professor named Chapman — told my class that these two represented Zeus and Hades. Stated another way, one was a sort of “good” deity with a penchant for non-godlike behavior. The other downright awful most of the time. I assume that Google knows about Gemini, its mythological baggage, and the duality of a Superman type doing the trust, justice, American way, and the other inspiring a range of bad actors. Imagine. Something that is good and bad. That’s smart software I assume. The good part sells ads; the bad part fails at marketing perhaps?


Two smart Googlers in New York City learn the difference between book learning for a PhD and street learning for a degree from the Institute of Hard Knocks. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. (Are you monitoring Google’s effort to dominate smart software by announcing breakthroughs very few people understand? Are you finding Google’s losses at the AI shell game entertaining?

Google’s blog post states with rhetorical aplomb:

Gemini is built from the ground up for multimodality — reasoning seamlessly across text, images, video, audio, and code.

Well, any other AI using Google’s previous technology is officially behind the curve. That’s clear to me. I wonder if Sam AI-Man, Microsoft, and the users of ChatGPT are tuned to the Google wavelength? There’s a video or more accurately more than a dozen of them, but I don’t like video so I skipped them all. There are graphs with minimal data and some that appear to jiggle in “real” time. I skipped those too. There are tables. I did read the some of the data and learned that Gemini can do basic arithmetic and “challenging” math like geometry. That is the 3, 4, 5 triangle stuff. I wonder how many people under the age of 18 know how to use a tape measure to determine if a corner is 90 degrees? (If you don’t, why not ask ChatGPT or MSFT Copilot.) I processed the twin’s size which come in three sizes. Do twins come in triples? Sigh. Anyway one can use Gemini Ultra, Gemini Pro, and Gemini Nano. Okay, but I am hung up on the twins and the three sizes. Sorry. I am a dinobaby. There are more movies. I exited the site and navigated to YCombinator’s Hacker News. Didn’t Sam AI-Man have a brush with that outfit?

You can find the comments about Gemini at this link. I want to highlight several quotations I found suggestive. Then I want to offer a few observations based on my conversation with my research team.

Here are some representative statements from the YCombinator’s forum:

  • Jansan said: Yes, it [Google] is very successful in replacing useful results with links to shopping sites.
  • FrustratedMonkey said: Well, deepmind was doing amazing stuff before OpenAI. AlphaGo, AlphaFold, AlphaStar. They were groundbreaking a long time ago. They just happened to miss the LLM surge.
  • Wddkcs said: Googles best work is in the past, their current offerings are underwhelming, even if foundational to the progress of others.
  • Foobar said: The whole things reeks of being desperate. Half the video is jerking themselves off that they’ve done AI longer than anyone and they “release” (not actually available in most countries) a model that is only marginally better than the current GPT4 in cherry-picked metrics after nearly a year of lead-time?
  • Arson9416 said: Google is playing catchup while pretending that they’ve been at the forefront of this latest AI wave. This translates to a lot of talk and not a lot of action. OpenAI knew that just putting ChatGPT in peoples hands would ignite the internet more than a couple of over-produced marketing videos. Google needs to take a page from OpenAI’s playbook.

Please, work through the more than 600 comments about Gemini and reach your own conclusions. Here are mine:

  1. The Google is trying to market using rhetorical tricks and big-brain hot buttons. The effort comes across to me as similar to Ford’s marketing of the Edsel.
  2. Sam AI-Man remains the man in AI. Coups, tension, and chaos — irrelevant. The future for many means ChatGPT.
  3. The comment about timing is a killer. Google missed the train. The company wants to catch up, but it is not shipping products nor being associated to features grade school kids and harried marketers with degrees in art history can use now.

Sundar Pichai is not Sam AI-Man. The difference has become clear in the last year. If Sundar and Sam are twins, which represents what?

Stephen E Arnold, December 6, 2023






Why Google Dorks Exist and Why Most Users Do Not Know Why They Are Needed

December 4, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Many people in my lectures are not familiar with the concept of “dorks”. No, not the human variety. I am referencing the concept of a “Google dork.” If you do a quick search using Yandex.com, you will get pointers to different “Google dorks.” Click on one of the links and you will find information you can use to retrieve more precise and relevant information from the Google ad-supported Web search system.

Here’s what QDORKS.com looks like:


The idea is that one plugs in search terms and uses the pull down boxes to enter specific commands to point the ad-centric system at something more closely resembling a relevant result. Other interfaces are available; for example, the “1000 Best Google Dorks List." You get a laundry list of tips,commands, and ideas for wrestling Googzilla to the ground, twisting its tail, and (hopefully) yield relevant information. Hopefully. Good work.


Most people are lousy at pinning the tail on the relevance donkey. Therefore, let someone who knows define relevance for the happy people. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Nice animal with map pins.

Why are Google Dorks or similar guides to Google search necessary? Here are three reasons:

  1. Precision reduces the opportunities for displaying allegedly relevant advertising. Semantic relaxation allows the Google to suggest that it is using Oingo type methods to find mathematically determined relationships. The idea is that razzle dazzle makes ad blasting something like an ugly baby wrapped in translucent fabric on a foggy day look really great.
  2. When Larry Page argued with me at a search engine meeting about truncation, he displayed a preconceived notion about how search should work for those not at Google or attending a specialist conference about search. Rational? To him, yep. Logical? To his framing of the search problem, the stance makes perfect sense if one discards the notion of tense, plurals, inflections, and stupid markers like “im” as in “impractical” and “non” as in “nonsense.” Hey, Larry had the answer. Live with it.
  3. The goal at the Google is to make search as intellectually easy for the “user” as possible. The idea was to suggest what the user intended. Also, Google had the old idea that a person’s past behavior can predict that person’s behavior now. Well, predict in the sense that “good enough” will do the job for vast majority of search-blind users who look for the short cut or the most convenient way to get information.

Why? Control, being clever, and then selling the dream of clicks for advertisers. Over the years, Google leveraged its information framing power to a position of control. I want to point out that most people, including many Googlers, cannot perceive. When pointed out, those individuals refuse to believe that Google does [a] NOT index the full universe of digital data, [b] NOT want to fool around with users who prefer Boolean algebra, content curation to identify the best or most useful content, and [c] fiddle around with training people to become effective searchers of online information. Obfuscation, verbal legerdemain, and the “do no evil” craziness make the railroad run the way Cornelius Vanderbilt-types implemented.

I read this morning (December 4, 2023) the Google blog post called “New Ways to Find Just What You Need on Search.” The main point of the write up in my opinion is:

Search will never be a solved problem; it continues to evolve and improve alongside our world and the web.

I agree, but it would be great if the known search and retrieval functions were available to users. Instead, we have a weird Google Mom approach. From the write up:

To help you more easily keep up with searches or topics you come back to a lot, or want to learn more about, we’re introducing the ability to follow exactly what you’re interested in.

Okay, user tracking, stored queries, and alerts. How does the Google know what you want? The answer is that users log in, use Google services, and enter queries which are automatically converted to search. You will have answers to questions you really care about.

There are other search functions available in the most recent version of Google’s attempts to deal with an unsolved problem:

As with all information on Search, our systems will look to show the most helpful, relevant and reliable information possible when you follow a topic.

Yep, Google is a helicopter parent. Mom will know what’s best, select it, and present it. Don’t like it? Mom will be recalcitrant, like shaping search results to meet what the probabilistic system says, “Take your medicine, you brat.” Who said, “Mother Google is a nice mom”? Definitely not me.

And Google will make search more social. Shades of Dr. Alon Halevy and the heirs of Orkut. The Google wants to bring people together. Social signals make sense to Google. Yep, content without Google ads must be conquered. Let’s hope the Google incentive plans encourage the behavior, or those valiant programmers will be bystanders to other Googlers’ promotions and accompanying money deliveries.

Net net: Finding relevant, on point, accurate information is more difficult today than at any other point in the 50+ year work career. How does the cloud of unknowing dissipate? I have no idea. I think it has moved in on tiny Googzilla feet and sits looking over the harbor, ready to pounce on any creature that challenges the status quo.

PS. Corny Vanderbilt was an amateur compared to the Google. He did trains; Google does information.

Stephen E Arnold, December 4, 2023

Good Fences, Right, YouTube? And Good Fences in Winter Even Better

December 4, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Remember that line from the grumpy American poet Bobby Frost. (I have on good authority that Bobby was not a charmer. And who, pray tell, was my source. How about a friend of the poet’s who worked with him in South Shaftsbury.)

Like those in the Nor’East say, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

The line is not original. Bobby’s pal told me that the saying was a “pretty common one” among the Shaftsburians. Bobby appropriated the line in his poem “Mending Wall. (It is loved by millions of high school students). The main point of the poem is that “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” The key is “something.”

The fine and judicious, customer centric, and well-managed outfit Google is now in the process of understanding the “something that doesn’t love a wall,” digital or stone.

Inside the Arms Race between YouTube and Ad Blockers” updates the effort of the estimable advertising outfit and — well — almost everyone. The article explains:

YouTube recently took dramatic action against anyone visiting its site with an ad blocker running — after a few pieces of content, it’ll simply stop serving you videos. If you want to get past the wall, that ad blocker will (probably) need to be turned off; and if you want an ad-free experience, better cough up a couple bucks for a Premium subscription.

The write up carefully explains that one must pay a “starting” monthly fee of $13.99 to avoid the highly relevant advertisements for metal men’s wallets, the total home gym which seems only inappropriate for a 79 year old dinobaby like me, and some type of women’s undergarment. Yeah, that ad matching to a known user is doing a bang up job in my opinion. I bet the Skim’s marketing manager is thrilled I am getting their message. How many packs of Skims do I buy in a lifetime? Zero. Yep, zero.


Yes, sir. Good fences make good neighbors. Good enough, MSFT Copilot. Good enough.

Okay, that’s the ad blocker thing, which I have identified as Google’s digital Battle of Waterloo in honor of a movie about everyone’s favorite French emperor, Nappy B.

But what the cited write up and most of the coverage is not focusing on is the question, “Why the user hostile move?” I want to share some of my team’s ideas about the motive force behind this disliked and quite annoying move by that company everyone loves (including the Skim’s marketing manager?).

First, the emergence of ChatGPT type services is having a growing impact on Google’s online advertising business. One can grind though Google’s financials and not find any specific item that says, “The Duke of Wellington and a crazy old Prussian are gearing up for a fight. So I will share some information we have rounded up by talking to people and looking through the data gathered about Googzilla. Specifically, users want information packaged to answer or to “appear” to answer their question. Some want lists; some want summaries; and some just want to avoid the enter the query, click through mostly irrelevant results, scan for something that is sort of close to an answer, and use that information to buy a ticket or get a Taylor Swift poster, whatever. That means that the broad trend in the usage of Google search is a bit like the town of Grindavik, Iceland. “Something” is going on, and it is unlikely to bode well for the future that charming town in Iceland. That’s the “something” that is hostile to walls. Some forces are tough to resist even by Googzilla and friends.

Second, despite the robust usage of YouTube, it costs more money to operate that service than it does to display from a cache ads and previously spidered information from Google compliant Web sites. Thus, as pressure on traditional search goes up from the ChatGPT type services, the darker the clouds on the search business horizon look. The big storm is not pelting the Googleplex yet, but it does looks ominous perched on the horizon and moving slowly. Don’t get our point wrong: Running a Google scale search business is expensive, but it has been engineered and tuned to deliver a tsunami of cash. The YouTube thing just costs more and is going to have a tough time replacing lost old-fashioned search revenue. What’s a pressured Googzilla going to do? One answer is, “Charge users.” Then raise prices. Gee, that’s the much-loved cable model, isn’t it? And the pressure point is motivating some users who are developers to find ways to cut holes in the YouTube fence. The fix? Make the fence bigger and more durable? Isn’t that a Rand arms race scenario? What’s an option? Where’s a J. Robert Oppenheimer-type when one needs him?

The third problem is that there is a desire on the part of advertisers to have their messages displayed in a non offensive context. Also, advertisers — because the economy for some outfits sucks — now are starting to demand proof that their ads are being displayed in front of buyers known to have an interest in their product. Yep, I am talking about the Skims’ marketing officer as well as any intermediary hosing money into Google advertising. I don’t want to try to convince those who are writing checks to the Google the following: “Absolutely. Your ad dollars are building your brand. You are getting leads. You are able to reach buyers no other outfit can deliver.” Want proof. Just look at this dinobaby. I am not buying health food, hidden carry holsters, and those really cute flesh colored women’s undergarments. The question is, “Are the ads just being dumped or are they actually targeted to someone who is interested in a product category?” Good question, right?

Net net: The YouTube ad blocking is shaping up to be a Google moment. Now Google has sparked an adversarial escalation in the world of YouTube ad blockers. What are Google’s options now that Googzilla is backed into a corner? Maybe Bobby Frost has a poem about it: “Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice.” How do Googzilla fare in the ice?

Stephen E Arnold, December 4, 2023

Google Maps: Trust in Us. Well, Mostly

December 1, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Friday and December 1, 2023. I want to commemorate the beginning of the last month of what has been an exciting 2023. How exciting. How about a Google Maps’ story?

Navigate to “Google Maps Mistake Leaves Dozens of Families Stranded in the Desert”. Here’s the story: The outstanding and from my point of view almost unusable Google Maps directed a number of people to a “dreadful dirt path during a dust storm.”


“Mommy, says the teenage son, “I told you exactly what the smart map system said to do. Why are we parked in a tree?” Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough art.

Hey, wait up. I thought Google had developed a super duper quantum smart weather prediction system. Is Google unable to cross correlate Google Maps with potential negative weather events?

The answer, “Who are you kidding?” Google appears to be in content marketing hyperbole “we are better at high tech” mode. Let’s not forget the Google breakthrough regarding material science. Imagine. Google’s smart software identified oodles of new materials. Was this “new” news? Nope. Computational chemists have been generating potentially useful chemical substances for — what is it now? — decades. Is the Google materials science breakthrough going to solve the problem of burned food sticking to a cookie sheet? Sure, I am waiting for the news release.

What’s up with the Google Maps?

The write up says:

Google Maps apologized for the rerouting disaster and said that it had removed that route from its platform.

Hey, that’s helpful. I assume it was a quantum answer to a “we’re smart” outfit.

I wish I had kept the folder which had my collection of Google Map news items. I do recall someone who drove off a cliff. I had my own notes about my trying to find Seymour Rubinstein’s house on a bright sunny day. The inventor of WordStar did not live in the Bay. That was the location of Mr. Rubinstein’s house, according to Google Maps. I did find the house, and I had sufficient common sense not to drive into the water. I had other examples of great mappiness, but, alas!, no longer.

Is directing a harried mother into a desert during a dust storm humorous? Maybe to some in Sillycon Valley. I am not amused. I don’t think the mother was amused because in addition to the disturbing situation, her vehicle suffered $5,000 in damage.

The question is, “Why?”

Perhaps Google’s incentive system is not aligned to move consumer products like Google Maps from “good enough” to “excellent.” And the money that could have been spent on improving Google Maps may be needed to output stories about Google’s smart software inventing new materials.

Interesting. Isn’t OpenAI and the much loved Microsoft leading the smart software mindshare race? I think so. Perhaps Maps’ missteps are signal about management misalignment and deep issues within the Alphabet Google YouTube inferiority complex?

Stephen E Arnold, December 1, 2023

Google and X: Shall We Again Love These Bad Dogs?

November 30, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Two stories popped out of my blah newsfeed this morning (Thursday, November 30, 2023). I want to highlight each and offer a handful of observations. Why? I am a dinobaby, and I remember the adults who influenced me telling me to behave, use common sense, and follow the rules of “good” behavior. Dull? Yes. A license to cut corners and do crazy stuff? No.

The first story, if it is indeed accurate, is startling. “Google Caught Placing Big-Brand Ads on Hardcore Porn Sites, Report Says” includes a number of statements about the Google which make me uncomfortable. For instance:

advertisers who feel there’s no way to truly know if Google is meeting their brand safety standards are demanding more transparency from Google. Ideally, moving forward, they’d like access to data confirming where exactly their search ads have been displayed.

Where are big brand ads allegedly appearing? How about “undesirable sites.” What comes to mind for me is adult content. There are some quite sporty ads on certain sites that would make a Methodist Sunday school teacher blush.


These two big dogs are having a heck of a time ruining the living room sofa. Neither dog knows that the family will not be happy. These are dogs, not the mental heirs of Immanuel Kant. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. The stuffing looks like soap bubbles, but you are “good enough,” the benchmark for excellence today.

But the shocking factoid is that Google does not provide a way for advertisers to know where their ads have been displayed. Also, there is a possibility that Google shared ad revenue with entities which may be hostile to the interests of the US. Let’s hope that the assertions reported in the article are inaccurate. But if the display of big brand ads on sites with content which could conceivably erode brand value, what exactly is Google’s system doing? I will return to this question in the observations section of this essay.

The second article is equally shocking to me.

Elon Musk Tells Advertisers: ‘Go F*** Yourself’” reports that the EV and rocket man with a big hole digging machine allegedly said about advertisers who purchase promotions on X.com (Twitter?):

Don’t advertise,” … “If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go fuck yourself. Go f*** yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.” … ” If advertisers don’t return, Musk said, “what this advertising boycott is gonna do is it’s gonna kill the company.”

The cited story concludes with this statement:

The full interview was meandering and at times devolved into stream of consciousness responses; Musk spoke for triple the time most other interviewees did. But the questions around Musk’s own actions, and the resulting advertiser exodus — the things that could materially impact X — seemed to garner the most nonchalant answers. He doesn’t seem to care.

Two stories. Two large and successful companies. What can a person like myself conclude, recognizing that there is a possibility that both stories may have some gaps and flaws:

  1. There is a disdain for old-fashioned “values” related to acceptable business practices
  2. The thread of pornography and foul language runs through the reports. The notion of well-crafted statements and behaviors is not part of the Google and X game plan in my view
  3. The indifference of the senior managers at both companies seeps through the descriptions of how Google and X operate strikes me as intentional.

Now why?

I think that both companies are pushing the edge of business behavior. Google obviously is distributing ad inventory anywhere it can to try and create a market for more ads. Instead of telling advertisers where their ads are displayed or giving an advertiser control over where ads should appear, Google just displays the ads. The staggering irrelevance of the ads I see when I view a YouTube video is evidence that Google knows zero about me despite my being logged in and using some Google services. I don’t need feminine undergarments, concealed weapons products, or bogus health products.

With X.com the dismissive attitude of the firm’s senior management reeks of disdain. Why would someone advertise on a system which  promotes behaviors that are detrimental to one’s mental set up?

The two companies are different, but in a way they are similar in their approach to users, customers, and advertisers. Something has gone off the rails in my opinion at both companies. It is generally a good idea to avoid riding trains which are known to run on bad tracks, ignore safety signals, and demonstrate remarkably questionable behavior.

What if the write ups are incorrect? Wow, both companies are paragons. What if both write ups are dead accurate? Wow, wow, the big dogs are tearing up the living room sofa. More than “bad dog” is needed to repair the furniture for living.

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2023

Google Maps: Rapid Progress on Un-Usability

November 30, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I read a Xhitter.com post about Google Maps. Those who have either heard me talk about the “new” Google Maps or who have read some of my blog posts on the subject know my view. The current Google Maps is useless for my needs. Last year, as one of my team were driving to a Federal secure facility, I bought an overpriced paper map at one of the truck stops. Why? I had no idea how to interact with the map in a meaningful way. My recollection was that I could coax Google Maps and Waze to be semi-helpful. Now the Google Maps’s developers have become tangled in a very large thorn bush. The team discusses how large the thorn bush is, how sharp the thorns are, and how such a large thorn bush could thrive in the Googley hot house.

11 23 grannie and nav 2

This dinobaby expresses some consternation at [a] not knowing where to look, [b] how to show the route, and [c] not cause a motor vehicle accident. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough I think.

The result is enhancements to Google Maps which are the digital equivalent of skin cancer. The disgusting result is a vehicle for advertising and engagement that no one can use without head scratching moments. Am I alone in my complaint. Nope, the afore mentioned Xhitter.com post aligns quite well with my perception. The author is a person who once designed a more usable version of Google Maps.

Her Xhitter.com post highlights the digital skin cancer the team of Googley wizards has concocted. Here’s a screen capture of her annotated, life-threatening disfigurement:


She writes:

The map should be sacred real estate. Only things that are highly useful to many people should obscure it. There should be a very limited number of features that can cover the map view. And there are multiple ways to add new features without overlaying them directly on the map.

Sounds good. But Xooglers and other outsiders are not likely to get much traction from the Map team. Everyone is working hard at landing in the hot AI area or some other discipline which will deliver a bonus and a promotion. Maps? Nope.

The former Google Maps’ designer points out:

In 2007, I was 1 of 2 designers on Google Maps. At that time, Maps had already become a cluttered mess. We were wedging new features into any space we could find in the UI. The user experience was suffering and the product was growing increasingly complicated. We had to rethink the app to be simple and scale for the future.

Yep, Google Maps, a case study for people who are brilliant who have lost the atlas to reality. And “sacred” at Google? Ad revenue, not making dear old grandma safer when she drives. (Tesla, Cruise, where are those smart, self-driving cars? Ah, I forgot. They are with Waymo, keeping their profile low.)

Stephen E Arnold, November 30, 2023

Is YouTube Marching Toward Its Waterloo?

November 28, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I have limited knowledge of the craft of warfare. I do have a hazy recollection that Napoleon found himself at the wrong end of a pointy stick at the Battle of Waterloo. I do recall that Napoleon lost the battle and experienced the domino effect which knocked him down a notch or two. He ended up on the island of Saint Helena in the south Atlantic Ocean with Africa a short 1,200 miles to the east. But Nappy had no mobile phone, no yacht purchased with laundered money, and no Internet. Losing has its downsides. Bummer. No empire.

I thought about Napoleon when I read “YouTube’s Ad Blocker Crackdown Heats Up.” The question I posed to myself was, “Is the YouTube push for subscription revenue and unfettered YouTube user data collection a road to Google’s Battle of Waterloo?”


Thanks, MSFT Copilot. You have a knack for capturing the essence of a loser. I love good enough illustrations too.

The cited article from Channel News reports:

YouTube is taking a new approach to its crackdown on ad-blockers by delaying the start of videos for users attempting to avoid ads. There were also complaints by various X (formerly Twitter) users who said that YouTube would not even let a video play until the ad blocker was disabled or the user purchased a YouTube Premium subscription. Instead of an ad, some sources using Firefox and Edge browsers have reported waiting around five seconds before the video launches the content. According to users, the Chrome browser, which the streaming giant shares an owner with, remains unaffected.

If the information is accurate, Google is taking steps to damage what the firm has called the “user experience.” The idea is that users who want to watch “free” videos, have a choice:

  1. Put up with delays, pop ups, and mindless appeals to pay Google to show videos from people who may or may not be compensated by the Google
  2. Just fork over a credit card and let Google collect about $150 per year until the rates go up. (The cable TV and mobile phone billing model is alive and well in the Google ecosystem.)
  3. Experiment with advertisement blocking technology and accept the risk of being banned from Google services
  4. Learn to love TikTok, Instagram, DailyMotion, and Bitchute, among other options available to a penny-conscious consumer of user-produced content
  5. Quit YouTube and new-form video. Buy a book.

What happened to Napoleon before the really great decision to fight Wellington in a lovely part of Belgium. Waterloo is about nine miles south of the wonderful, diverse city of Brussels. Napoleon did not have a drone to send images of the rolling farmland, where the “enemies” were located, or the availability of something behind which to hide. Despite Nappy’s fine experience in his march to Russia, he muddled forward. Despite allegedly having said, “The right information is nine-tenths of every battle,” the Emperor entered battle, suffered 40,000 casualties, and ended up in what is today a bit of a tourist hot spot. In 1816, it was somewhat less enticing. Ordering troops to charge uphill against a septuagenarian’s forces was arguably as stupid as walking to Russia as snowflakes began to fall.

How does this Waterloo related to the YouTube fight now underway? I see several parallels:

  1. Google’s senior managers, informed with the management lore of 25 years of unfettered operation, knows that users can be knocked along a path of the firm’s choice. Think sheep. But sheep can be disorderly. One must watch sheep.
  2. The need to stem the rupturing of cash required to operate a massive “free” video service is another one of those Code Yellow and Code Red events for the company. With search known to be under threat from Sam AI-Man and the specters of “findability” AI apps, the loss of traffic could be catastrophic. Despite Google’s financial fancy dancing, costs are a bit of a challenge: New hardware costs money, options like making one’s own chips costs money, allegedly smart people cost money, marketing costs money, legal fees cost money, and maintaining the once-free SEO ad sales force costs money. Got the message: Expenses are a problem for the Google in my opinion.
  3. The threat of either TikTok or Instagram going long form remains. If these two outfits don’t make a move on YouTube, there will be some innovator who will. The price of “move fast and break things” means that the Google can be broken by an AI surfer. My team’s analysis suggests it is more brittle today than at any previous point in its history. The legal dust up with Yahoo about the Overture / GoTo issue was trivial compared to the cost control challenge and the AI threat. That’s a one-two for the Google management wizards to solve. Making sense of the Critique of Pure Reason is a much easier task in my view.

The cited article includes a statement which is likely to make some YouTube users uncomfortable. Here’s the statement:

Like other streaming giants, YouTube is raising its rates with the Premium price going up to $13.99 in the U.S., but users may have to shell out the money, and even if they do, they may not be completely free of ads.

What does this mean? My interpretation is that [a] even if you pay, a user may see ads; that is, paying does not eliminate ads for perpetuity; and [b] the fee is not permanent; that is, Google can increase it at any time.

Several observations:

  1. Google faces high-cost issues from different points of the business compass: Legal in the US and EU, commercial from known competitors like TikTok and Instagram, and psychological from innovators who find a way to use smart software to deliver a more compelling video experience for today’s users. These costs are not measured solely in financial terms. The mental stress of what will percolate from the seething mass of AI entrepreneurs. Nappy did not sleep too well after Waterloo. Too much Beef Wellington, perhaps?
  2. Google’s management methods have proven appropriate for generating revenue from a ad model in which Google controls the billing touch points. When those management techniques are applied to non-controllable functions, they fail. The hallmark of the management misstep is the handling of Dr. Timnit Gebru, a squeaky wheel in the Google AI content marketing machine. There is nothing quite like stifling a dissenting voice, the squawk of a parrot, and a don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-when -you-leave moment.
  3. The post-Covid, continuous warfare, and unsteady economic environment is causing the social fabric to fray and in some cases tear. This means that users may become contentious and become receptive to a spontaneous flash mob action toward Google and YouTube. User revolt at scale is not something Google has demonstrated a core competence.

Net net: I will get my microwave popcorn and watch this real-time Google Boogaloo unfold. Will a recipe become famous? How about Grilled Google en Croute?

Stephen E Arnold, November 28, 2023

Maybe the OpenAI Chaos Ended Up as Grand Slam Marketing?

November 28, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Yep, Q Star. The next Big Thing. “About That OpenAI Breakthrough” explains

OpenAI could in fact have a breakthrough that fundamentally changes the world. But “breakthroughs” rarely turn to be general to live up to initial rosy expectations. Often advances work in some contexts, not otherwise.

I agree, but I have a slightly different view of the matter. OpenAI’s chaotic management skills ended up as accidental great marketing. During the dust up and dust settlement, where were the other Big Dogs of the techno-feudal world? If you said, who? you are on the same page with me. OpenAI burned itself into the minds of those who sort of care about AI and the end of the world Terminator style.


In companies and organizations with “do gooder” tendencies, the marketing messages can be interpreted by some as a scientific fact. Nope. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Are you infringing and expecting me to take the fall?

First, shotgun marriages can work out here in rural Kentucky. But more often than not, these unions become the seeds of Hatfield and McCoy-type Thanksgivings. “Grandpa, don’t shoot the turkey with birdshot. Granny broke a tooth last year.” Translating from Kentucky argot: Ideological divides produce craziness. The OpenAI mini-series is in its first season and there is more to come from the wacky innovators.

Second, any publicity is good publicity in Sillycon Valley. Who has given a thought to Google’s smart software? How did Microsoft’s stock perform during the five day mini-series? What is the new Board of Directors going to do to manage the bucking broncos of breakthroughs? Talk about dominating the “conversation.” Hats off to the fun crowd at OpenAI. Hey, Google, are you there?

Third, how is that regulation of smart software coming along? I think one unit of the US government is making noises about the biggest large language model ever. The EU folks continue to discuss, a skill essential to representing the interests of the group. Countries like China are chugging along, happily downloading code from open source repositories. So exactly what’s changed?

Net net: The OpenAI has been a click champ. Good, bad, or indifferent, other AI outfits have some marketing to do in the wake of the blockbuster “Sam AI-Man: The Next Bigger Thing.” One way or another, Sam AI-Man dominates headlines, right Zuck, right Sundar?

Stephen  E Arnold, November 28, 2023

Predicting the Weather: Another Stuffed Turkey from Google DeepMind?

November 27, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

By or design, the adolescents at OpenAI have dominated headlines for the pre-turkey, the turkey, and the post-turkey celebrations. In the midst of this surge in poohbah outputs, Xhitter xheets, and podcast posts, non-OpenAI news has been struggling for a toehold.


An important AI announcement from Google DeepMind stuns a small crowd. Were the attendees interested in predicting the weather or getting a free umbrella? Thank, MSFT Copilot. Another good enough art work whose alleged copyright violations you want me to determine. How exactly am I to accomplish that? Use, Google Bard?

What is another AI company to do?

A partial answer appears in “DeepMind AI Can Beat the Best Weather Forecasts. But There Is a Catch”. This is an article in the esteemed and rarely spoofed Nature Magazine. None of that Techmeme dominating blue link stuff. None of the influential technology reporters asserting, “I called it. I called it.” None of the eye wateringly dorky observations that OpenAI’s organizational structure was a problem. None of the “Satya Nadella learned about the ouster at the same time we did.” Nope. Nope. Nope.

What Nature provided is good, old-fashioned content marketing. The write up points out that DeepMind says that it has once again leapfrogged mere AI mortals. Like the quantum supremacy assertion, the Google can predict the weather. (My great grandmother made the same statement about The Farmer’s Almanac. She believed it. May she rest in peace.)

The estimable magazine reported in the midst of the OpenAI news making turkeyfest said:

To make a forecast, it uses real meteorological readings, taken from more than a million points around the planet at two given moments in time six hours apart, and predicts the weather six hours ahead. Those predictions can then be used as the inputs for another round, forecasting a further six hours into the future…. They [Googley DeepMind experts] say it beat the ECMWF’s “gold-standard” high-resolution forecast (HRES) by giving more accurate predictions on more than 90 per cent of tested data points. At some altitudes, this accuracy rose as high as 99.7 per cent.

No more ruined picnics. No weddings with bridesmaids’ shoes covered in mud. No more visibly weeping mothers because everyone is wet.

But Nature, to the disappointment of some PR professionals presents an alternative viewpoint. What a bummer after all those meetings and presentations:

“You can have the best forecast model in the world, but if the public don’t trust you, and don’t act, then what’s the point? [A statement attributed to Ian Renfrew at the University of East Anglia]

Several thoughts are in order:

  1. Didn’t IBM make a big deal about its super duper weather capabilities. It bought the Weather Channel too. But when the weather and customers got soaked, I think IBM folded its umbrella. Will Google have to emulate IBM’s behavior. I mean “the weather.” (Note: The owner of the IBM Weather Company is an outfit once alleged to have owned or been involved with the NSO Group.)
  2. Google appears to have convinced Nature to announce the quantum supremacy type breakthrough only to find that a professor from someplace called East Anglia did not purchase the rubber boots from the Google online store.
  3. The current edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac is about US$9.00 on Amazon. That predictive marvel was endorsed by Gussie Arnold, born about 1835. We are not sure because my father’s records of the Arnold family were soaked by sudden thunderstorm.

Just keep in mind that Google’s system can predict the weather 10 days ahead. Another quantum PR moment from the Google which was drowned out in the OpenAI tsunami.

Stephen E Arnold, November 27, 2023

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