Allegations about Medical Misinformation Haunt US Tech Giants

May 17, 2024

Access to legal and safe abortions also known as the fight for reproductive rights are controversial issues in the United States and countries with large Christian populations. Opposition against abortions often spread false information about the procedure. They’re also known to spread misinformation about sex education, especially birth control. Mashable shares the unfortunate story that tech giants “Meta And Google Fuel Abortion Misinformation Across Africa, Asia, And Latin America, Report Finds.”

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) and MSI Reproductive Choices (MSI) released a new report that found Meta and sometimes Google restricted abortion information and disseminated misinformation and abuse in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Abortion providers are prevented placing ads globally on Google and Meta. Meta also earns revenue from anti-abortion ads bought in the US and targeted at the aforementioned areas.

MSI claims in the report that Meta removed or rejected its ads in Vietnam, Nigeria, Nepal, Mexica, Kenya, and Ghana because of “sensitive content.” Meta also has a blanket advertising restrictions on MSI’s teams in Vietnam and Nepal without explanation. Google blocked ads with the keyword “pregnancy options” in Ghana and MSI claimed they were banned from using that term in a Google Adwords campaign.

Google offered an explanation:

“Speaking to Mashable, Google representative Michael Aciman said, ‘This report does not include a single example of policy violating content on Google’s platform, nor any examples of inconsistent enforcement. Without evidence, it claims that some ads were blocked in Ghana for referencing ‘pregnancy options’. To be clear, these types of ads are not prohibited from running in Ghana – if the ads were restricted, it was likely due to our longstanding policies against targeting people based on sensitive health categories, which includes pregnancy.’”

Google and Meta have been vague and inconsistent about why they’re removing pregnancy option ads, while allowing pro-life groups the spread unchecked misinformation about abortion. Meta, Google, and other social media companies mine user information, but they do scant to protect civil liberties and human rights.

Organizations like MSI and CCDH are doing what they can to fight bad actors. It’s an uphill battle and it would be easier if social media companies helped.

Whitney Grace, May 17, 2024

Ho Hum: The Search Sky Is Falling

May 15, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

Google’s Broken Link to the Web” is interesting for two reasons: [a] The sky is falling — again and [b] search has been broken for a long time and suddenly I should worry.

The write up states:

When it comes to the company’s core search engine, however, the image of progress looks far muddier. Like its much-smaller rivals, Google’s idea for the future of search is to deliver ever more answers within its walled garden, collapsing projects that would once have required a host of visits to individual web pages into a single answer delivered within Google itself.

Nope. The walled garden has been in the game plan for a long, long time. People who lusted for Google mouse pads were not sufficiently clued in to notice. Google wants to be the digital Hotel California. Smarter software is just one more component available to the system which controls information flows globally. How many people in Denmark rely on Google search whether it is good, bad, or indifferent? The answer is, “99 percent.” What about people who let Google Gmail pass along their messages? How about 67 percent in the US. YouTube is video in many countries even with the rise of TikTok, the Google is hanging in there. Maps? Ditto. Calendars? Ditto. Each of these ubiquitous services are “search.” They have been for years. Any click can be monetized one way or another.

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Who will pay attention to this message? Regulators? Users of search on an iPhone? How about commuters and Waze? Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough. Working on those security issues today?

Now the sky is falling? Give me a break. The write up adds:

where the company once limited itself to gathering low-hanging fruit along the lines of “what time is the super bowl,” on Tuesday executives showcased generative AI tools that will someday plan an entire anniversary dinner, or cross-country-move, or trip abroad. A quarter-century into its existence, a company that once proudly served as an entry point to a web that it nourished with traffic and advertising revenue has begun to abstract that all away into an input for its large language models.  This new approach is captured elegantly in a slogan that appeared several times during Tuesday’s keynote: let Google do the Googling for you.

Of course, if Google does it, those “search” abstractions can be monetized.

How about this statement?

But to everyone who depended even a little bit on web search to have their business discovered, or their blog post read, or their journalism funded, the arrival of AI search bodes ill for the future. Google will now do the Googling for you, and everyone who benefited from humans doing the Googling will very soon need to come up with a Plan B.

Okay, what’s the plan B? Kagi? Yandex? Something magical from one of the AI start ups?

People have been trying to out search Google for a quarter century. And what has been the result? Google’s technology has been baked into the findability fruit cakes.

If one wants to be found, buy Google advertising. The alternative is what exactly? Crazy SEO baloney? Hire a 15 year old and pray that person can become an influencer? Put ads on Tubi?

The sky is not falling. The clouds rolled in and obfuscated people’s ability to see how weaponized information has seized control of multiple channels of information. I don’t see a change in weather any time soon. If one wants to run around saying the sky is falling, be careful. One might run into a wall or trip over a fire plug.

Stephen E Arnold, May 15, 2024

Google Lessons in Management: Motivating Some, Demotivating Others

May 14, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

I spotted an interesting comment in “Google Workers Complain of Decline in Morale’ as CEO Sundar Pichai Grilled over Raises, Layoffs: Increased distrust.” Here’s the passage:

Last month, the company fired 200 more workers, aside from the roughly 50 staffers involved in the protests, and shifted jobs abroad to Mexico and India.

I paired this Xhitter item with “Google Employees Question Execs over Decline in Morale after Blowout Earnings.” That write up asserted:

At an all-hands meeting last week, Google employees questioned leadership about cost cuts, layoffs and “morale” issues following the company’s better-than-expected first-quarter earnings report. CEO Sundar Pichai and CFO Ruth Porat said the company will likely have fewer layoffs in the second half of 2024.

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Poor, poor Googzilla. I think the fearsome alleged monopolist could lose a few pounds. What do you think? Thanks, MSFT Copilot good enough work just like some security models we know and love.

Not no layoffs. Just “fewer layoffs.” Okay, that a motivator.

The estimable “real” news service stated:

Alphabet’s top leadership has been on the defensive for the past few years, as vocal staffers have railed about post-pandemic return-to-office mandates, the company’s cloud contracts with the military, fewer perks and an extended stretch of layoffs — totaling more than 12,000 last year — along with other cost cuts that began when the economy turned in 2022. Employees have also complained about a lack of trust and demands that they work on tighter deadlines with fewer resources and diminished opportunities for internal advancement.

What’s wrong with this management method? The answer: Absolutely nothing. The write up included this bit of information:

She [Ruth Porat, Google CFO, who is quitting the volleyball and foosball facility] also took the rare step of admitting to leadership’s mistakes in its prior handling of investments. “The problem is a couple of years ago — two years ago, to be precise — we actually got that upside down and expenses started growing faster than revenues,” said Porat, who announced nearly a year ago [in 2023] that she would be stepping down from the CFO position but hasn’t yet vacated the office. “The problem with that is it’s not sustainable.”

Ever tactful, Sundar Pichai (the straight man in the Sundar & Prabhakar Comedy Team is quoted as saying in silky tones:

“I think you almost set the record for the longest TGIF answer,” he said. Google all-hands meetings were originally called TGIFs because they took place on Fridays, but now they can occur on other days of the week. Pichai then joked that leadership should hold a “Finance 101” Ted Talk for employees. With respect to the decline in morale brought up by employees, Pichai said “leadership has a lot of responsibility here, adding that “it’s an iterative process.”

That’s a demonstration of tactful high school science club management-speak, in my opinion. To emphasize the future opportunities for the world’s smartest people, he allegedly said, according to the write up:

Pichai said the company is “working through a long period of transition as a company” which includes cutting expenses and “driving efficiencies.” Regarding the latter point, he said, “We want to do this forever.” [Editor note: Emphasis added]

Forever is a long, long time, isn’t it?

Poor, addled Googzilla. Litigation to the left, litigation to the right. Grousing world’s smartest employees. A legacy of baby making in the legal department. Apple apparently falling in lust with OpenAI. Amazon and its pesky Yellow Pages approach to advertising.

The sky is not falling, but there are some dark clouds overhead. And, speaking of overhead, is Google ever going to be able to control its costs, pay off its technical debt, write checks to the governments when the firm is unjustly found guilty of assorted transgressions?

For now, yes. Forever? Sure, why not?

Stephen E Arnold, May 14, 2024

Will Google Behave Like Telegram?

May 10, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

I posted a short item on LinkedIn about Telegram’s blocking of Ukraine’s information piped into Russia via Telegram. I pointed out that Pavel Durov, the founder of VK and Telegram, told Tucker Carlson that he was into “free speech.” A few weeks after the interview, Telegram blocked the data from Ukraine for Russia’s Telegram users. One reason given, as I recall, was that Apple was unhappy. Telegram rolled over and complied with a request that seems to benefit Russia more than Apple. But that’s just my opinion. The incident, which one of my team verified with a Ukrainian interacting with senior professionals in Ukraine, the block. Not surprisingly, Ukraine’s use of Telegram is under advisement. I think that means, “Find another method of sending encrypted messages and use that.” Compromised communications can translate to “Rest in Peace” in real time.

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A Hong Kong rock band plays a cover of the popular hit Glory to Hong Kong. The bats in the sky are similar to those consumed in Shanghai during a bat festival. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. What are you working on today? Security or AI?

I read “Hong Kong Puts Google in Hot Seat With Ban on Protest Song.” That news story states:

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday approved the government’s application for an injunction order to prevent anyone from playing Glory to Hong Kong with seditious intent. While the city has a new security law to punish that crime, the judgment shifted responsibility onto the platforms, adding a new danger that just hosting the track could expose companies to legal risks. In granting the injunction, judges said prosecuting individual offenders wasn’t enough to tackle the “acute criminal problems.”

What’s Google got to do with it that toe tapper Glory to Hong Kong?

The write up says:

The injunction “places Google, media platforms and other social media companies in a difficult position: Essentially pitting values such as free speech in direct conflict with legal obligations,” said Ryan Neelam, program director at the Lowy Institute and former Australian diplomat to Hong Kong and Macau. “It will further the broader chilling effect if foreign tech majors do comply.”

The question is, “Roll over as Telegram allegedly has, or fight Hong Kong and by extension everyone’s favorite streaming video influencer, China?” What will Google do? Scrub Glory to Hong Kong, number one with a bullet on someone’s hit parade I assume.

My guess is that Google will go to court, appeal, and then take appropriate action to preserve whatever revenue is at stake. I do know The Sundar & Prabhakar Comedy Show will not use Glory to Hong Kong as its theme for its 2024 review.

Stephen E Arnold, May 10, 2024

Google Search Is Broken

May 10, 2024

ChatGPT and other generative AI engines have screwed up search engines, including the all-powerful Google. The Blaze article, “Why Google Search Is Broken” explains why Internet search is broke, and the causes. The Internet is full of information and the best way to get noticed in search results is using SEO. A black hat technique (it will probably be considered old school in the near future) to manipulate search results is to litter a post with keywords aka “keyword stuffing.”

ChatGPT users realized that it’s a fantastic tool for SEO, because they tell the AI algorithm to draft a post with a specific keyword and it generates a decent one. Google’s search algorithm then reads that post and pushes it to the top of search results. ChatGPT was designed to read and learn language the same way as Google: skin the Internet, scoop up information from Web sites, and then use it to teach the algorithm. This threatens Google’s search profit margins and Alphabet Inc. doesn’t like that:

“By and large, people don’t want to read AI-generated content, no matter how accurate it is. But the trouble for Google is that it can’t reliably detect and filter AI-generated content. I’ve used several AI detection apps, and they are 50% accurate at best. Google’s brain trust can probably do a much better job, but even then, it’s computationally expensive, and even the mighty Google can’t analyze every single page on the web, so the company must find workarounds.

This past fall, Google rolled out its Helpful Content Update, in which Google started to strongly emphasize sites based on user-generated content in search results, such as forums. The site that received the most notable boost in search rankings was Reddit. Meanwhile, many independent bloggers saw their traffic crash, whether or not they used AI.”

Google wants to save money by offloading AI detection/monitoring to forum moderators that usually aren’t paid. Unfortunately SEO experts figured out Google’s new trick and are now spamming user-content driven Websites. Google recently signed a deal with Reddit to acquire its user data to train its AI project, Gemini.

Google hates AI generated SEO and people who game its search algorithms. Google doesn’t have the resources to detect all the SEO experts, but went they are found Google extracts vengeance with deindexing and making better tools. Google released a new update to its spam policies to remove low-quality, unoriginal content made to abuse its search algorithm. The overall goal is to remove AI-generated sites from search results.

If you read between the lines, Google doesn’t want to lose more revenue and is calling out bad actors.

Whitney Grace, May 10, 2024

Google Trial: An Interesting Comment Amid the Yada Yada

May 8, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

I read “Google’s Antitrust Trial Spotlights Search Ads on the Final Day of Closing Arguments.” After decades of just collecting Google tchotchkes, US regulators appear to be making some progress. It is very difficult to determine if a company is a monopoly. It was much easier to count barrels of oil, billets of steel, and railroad cars than digital nothingness, wasn’t it?

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A giant whose name is Googzilla has most of the toys. He is reminding those who want the toys about his true nature. I believe Googzilla. Do you? Thanks, Microsoft Copilot. Good enough.

One of the many reports of the Google monopoly legal activity finally provided to me a quite useful, clear statement. Here’s the passage which caught my eye:

a coalition of state attorneys said Google’s search advertising business has trapped advertisers into its ecosystem while higher ad prices haven’t led to higher returns.

I want to consider this assertion. Please, read the original write up on Digiday to get the “real” news report. I am not a journalist; I am a dinobaby, and I have some thoughts to capture.

First, the Google has been doing Googley things for about a quarter of a century. A bit longer if one counts the Backrub service in an estimable Stanford computer building. From my point of view, Google has been doing “clever.” That means to just apologize, not ask permission. That means seek inspiration from others; for example, the IBM Clever system, the Yahoo-Overture advertising system, and the use of free to gain access to certain content like books, and pretty much doing what it wants. After figuring out that Google had to make money, it “innovated” with advertising, paid a fine, and acquired people and technology to match ads to queries. Yep, Oingo (Applied Semantics) helped out. The current antitrust matter will be winding down in 2024 and probably drag through 2025. Appeals for a company with lots of money can go slowly. Meanwhile Google’s activity can go faster.

Second, the data about Google monopoly are not difficult to identify. There is the state of the search market. Well, Eric Schmidt said years ago, Qwant kept him awake at night. I am not sure that was a credible statement. If Mr. Schmidt were awake at night, it might be the result of thinking about serious matters like money. His money. When Google became widely available, there were other Web search engines. I posted a list on my Web site which had a couple of hundred entries. Now the hot new search engines just recycle Bing and open source indexes, tossing in a handful of “special” sources like my mother jazzing up potato salad. There is Google search. And because of the reach of Google search, Google can sell ads.

Third, the ads are not just for search. Any click on a Google service is a click. Due to cute tricks like Chrome and ubiquitous services like maps, Google can slap ads many place. Other outfits cannot unless they are Google “partners.” Those partners are Google’s sales force. SEO customers become buyers of Google ads because that’s the most effective way to get traffic. Does a small business owner expect a Web site to be “found” without Google Local and maybe some advertising juice. Nope. No one but OSINT experts can get Google search to deliver useful results. Google Dorks exists for a reason. Google search quality drives ad sales. And YouTube ads? Lots of ads. Want an alternative? Good luck with Facebook, TikTok, ok.ru, or some other service.

Where’s the trial now? Google has asserted that it does not understand its own technology. The judge says he is circling down the drain of the marketing funnel. But the US government depends on the Google. That may be a factor or just the shadow of Googzilla.

Stephen E Arnold, May 8, 2024

Google Stomps into the Threat Intelligence Sector: AI and More

May 7, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

Before commenting on Google’s threat services news. I want to remind you of the link to the list of Google initiatives which did not survive. You can find the list at Killed by Google. I want to mention this resource because Google’s product innovation and management methods are interesting to say the least. Operating in Code Red or Yellow Alert or whatever the Google crisis buzzword is, generating sustainable revenue beyond online advertising has proven to be a bit of a challenge. Google is more comfortable using such methods as [a] buying and trying to scale it, [b] imitating another firm’s innovation, and [c] dumping big money into secret projects in the hopes that what comes out will not result in the firm’s getting its “glass” kicked to the curb.

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Google makes a big entrance at the RSA Conference. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Have you considerate purchasing Google’s threat intelligence service?

With that as background, Google has introduced an “unmatched” cyber security service. The information was described at the RSA security conference and in a quite Googley blog post “Introducing Google Threat Intelligence: Actionable threat intelligence at Google Scale.” Please, note the operative word “scale.” If the service does not make money, Google will “not put wood behind” the effort. People won’t work on the project, and it will be left to dangle in the wind or just shot like Cricket, a now famous example of animal husbandry. (Google’s Cricket was the Google Appliance. Remember that? Take over the enterprise search market. Nope. Bang, hasta la vista.)

Google’s new service aims squarely at the comparatively well-established and now maturing cyber security market. I have to check to see who owns what. Venture firms and others with money have been buying promising cyber security firms. Google owned a piece of Recorded Future. Now Recorded Future is owned by a third party outfit called Insight. Darktrace has been or will be purchased by Thoma Bravo. Consolidation is underway. Thus, it makes sense to Google to enter the threat intelligence market, using its Mandiant unit as a springboard, one of those home diving boards, not the cliff in Acapulco diving platform.

The write up says:

we are announcing Google Threat Intelligence, a new offering that combines the unmatched depth of our Mandiant frontline expertise, the global reach of the VirusTotal community, and the breadth of visibility only Google can deliver, based on billions of signals across devices and emails. Google Threat Intelligence includes Gemini in Threat Intelligence, our AI-powered agent that provides conversational search across our vast repository of threat intelligence, enabling customers to gain insights and protect themselves from threats faster than ever before.

Google to its credit did not trot out the “quantum supremacy” lingo, but the marketers did assert that the service offers “unmatched visibility in threats.” I like the “unmatched.” Not supreme, just unmatched. The graphic below illustrates the elements of the unmatchedness:

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Credit to the Google 2024

But where is artificial intelligence in the diagram? Don’t worry. The blog explains that Gemini (Google’s AI “system”) delivers

AI-driven operationalization

But the foundation of the new service is Gemini, which does not appear in the diagram. That does not matter, the Code Red crowd explains:

Gemini 1.5 Pro offers the world’s longest context window, with support for up to 1 million tokens. It can dramatically simplify the technical and labor-intensive process of reverse engineering malware — one of the most advanced malware-analysis techniques available to cybersecurity professionals. In fact, it was able to process the entire decompiled code of the malware file for WannaCry in a single pass, taking 34 seconds to deliver its analysis and identify the kill switch. We also offer a Gemini-driven entity extraction tool to automate data fusion and enrichment. It can automatically crawl the web for relevant open source intelligence (OSINT), and classify online industry threat reporting. It then converts this information to knowledge collections, with corresponding hunting and response packs pulled from motivations, targets, tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), actors, toolkits, and Indicators of Compromise (IoCs). Google Threat Intelligence can distill more than a decade of threat reports to produce comprehensive, custom summaries in seconds.

I like the “indicators of compromise.”

Several observations:

  1. Will this service be another Google Appliance-type play for the enterprise market? It is too soon to tell, but with the pressure mounting from regulators, staff management issues, competitors, and savvy marketers in Redmond “indicators” of success will be known in the next six to 12 months
  2. Is this a business or just another item on a punch list? The answer to the question may be provided by what the established players in the threat intelligence market do and what actions Amazon and Microsoft take. Is a new round of big money acquisitions going to begin?
  3. Will enterprise customers “just buy Google”? Chief security officers have demonstrated that buying multiple security systems is a “safe” approach to a job which is difficult: Protecting their employers from deeply flawed software and years of ignoring online security.

Net net: In a maturing market, three factors may signal how the big, new Google service will develop. These are [a] price, [b] perceived efficacy, and [c] avoidance of a major issue like the SolarWinds’ matter. I am rooting for Googzilla, but I still wonder why Google shifted from Recorded Future to acquisitions and me-too methods. Oh, well. I am a dinobaby and cannot be expected to understand.

Stephen E Arnold, May 7, 2024

Search Metrics: One Cannot Do Anything Unless One Finds the Info

May 2, 2024

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

The search engine optimization crowd bamboozled people with tales of getting to be number one on Google. The SEO experts themselves were tricked. The only way to appear on the first page of search results is to buy an ad. This is the pay-to-play approach to being found online. Now a person cannot do anything, including getting in the building to start one’s first job without searching. The company sent the future wizard an email with the access code. If the new hire cannot locate the access code, she cannot work without going through hoops. Most work or fun is similar. Without an ability to locate specific information online, a person is going to be locked out or just lost in space.

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The new employee cannot search her email to locate the access code. No job for her. Thanks, MSFT Copilot, a so-so image without the crazy Grandma says, “You can’t get that image, fatso.”

I read a chunk of content marketing called “Predicted 25% Drop In Search Volume Remains Unclear.” The main idea (I think) is that with generative smart software, a person no longer has to check with Googzilla to get information. In some magical world, a person with a mobile phone will listen as the smart software tells a user what information is needed. Will Apple embrace Microsoft AI or Google AI? Will it matter to the user? Will the number of online queries decrease for Google if Apple decides it loves Redmond types more than Googley types? Nope.

The total number of online queries will continue to go up until the giant search purveyors collapse due to overburdened code, regulatory hassles, or their own ineptitude. But what about the estimates of mid tier consulting firms like Gartner? Hello, do you know that Gartner is essentially a collection of individuals who do the bidding of some work-from-home, self-anointed experts?

Face facts. There is one alleged monopoly controlling search. That is Google. It will take time for an upstart to siphon significant traffic from the constellation of Google services. Even Google’s own incredibly weird approach to managing the company will not be able to prevent people from using the service. Every email search is a search. Every direction in Waze is a search. Every click on a suggested YouTube TikTok knock off is a search. Every click on anything Google is a search. To tidy up the operation, assorted mechanisms for analyzing user behavior provide a fingerprint of users. Advertisers, even if they know they are being given a bit of a casino frippery, have to decide among Amazon, Meta, or, or … Sorry. I can’t think of another non-Google option.

If you want traffic, you can try to pull off a Black Swan event as OpenAI did. But for most organizations, if you want traffic, you pay Google. What about SEO? If the SEO outfit is a Google partner, you are on the Information Highway to Google’s version of Madison Avenue.

But what about the fancy charts and graphs which show Google’s vulnerability? Google’s biggest enemy is Google’s approach to managing its staff, its finances, and its technology. Bing or any other search competitor is going to find itself struggling to survive. Don’t believe me? Just ask the founder of Search2, Neeva, or any other search vendor crushed under Googzilla’s big paw. Unclear? Are you kidding me? Search volume is going to go up until something catastrophic happens. For now, buy Google advertising for traffic. Spend some money with Meta. Use Amazon if you sell fungible things. Google owns most of the traffic. Adjust and quit yapping about some fantasy cooked up by so-called experts.

Stephen E Arnold, May 2, 2024

One Half of the Sundar & Prabhakar Act Gets Egged: Garrf.

April 30, 2024

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

After I wrote Google Version 2: The Calculating Predator, BearStearns bought the rights to portions of my research and published one of its analyst reports. In that report, a point was made about Google’s research into semantic search. Remember, this was in 2005, long before the AI balloon inflated to the size of Taylor Swift’s piggy bank. My client (whom I am not allowed to name) and I were in the Manhattan BearStearns’ office. We received a call from Prabhakar Raghavan, who was the senior technology something at Yahoo at that time. I knew of Dr. Raghavan because he had been part of the Verity search outfit. On that call, Dr. Raghavan was annoyed that BearStearns suggested Yahoo was behind the eight ball in Web search. We listened, and I pointed out that Yahoo was not matching Google’s patent filing numbers. Although not an indicator of innovation, it is one indicator. The Yahoo race car had sputtered and had lost the search race. I recall one statement Dr. Raghavan uttered, “I can do a better search engine for $300,000 dollars.” Well, I am still waiting. Dr. Raghavan may have an opportunity to find his future elsewhere if he continues to get the type of improvised biographical explosive device shoved under his office door at Google. I want to point out that I thought Dr. Raghavan’s estimate of the cost of search was a hoot. How could he beat that for a joke worthy of Jack Benny?

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A big dumb bunny gets egged. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough.

I am referring to “The Man Who Killed Google Search,” written by Edward Zitron. For those to whom Mr. Zitron is not a household name like Febreze air freshener, he is “the CEO of national Media Relations and Public Relations company EZPR, of which I am both the E (Ed) and the Z (Zitron). I host the Better Offline Podcast, coming to iHeartRadio and everywhere else you find your podcasts February 2024.” For more about Mr. Zitron, navigate to this link. (Yep, it takes quite a while to load, but be patient.)

The main point of the write up is that the McKinsey-experienced Sundar Pichai (the other half of the comedy act) hired the article-writing, Verity-seasoned Dr. Raghavan to help steer the finely-crafted corporate aircraft carrier, USS Google into the Sea of Money. Even though, the duo are not very good at comedy, they are doing a bang up job of making the creaking online advertising machine output big money. If you don’t know how big, just check out the earning for the most recent financial quarter at this link. If you don’t want to wade through Silicon Valley jargon, Google is “a two trillion dollar company.” How do you like that, Mr. and Mrs. Traditional Advertising?

The write up is filled with proper names of Googlers past and present. The point is that the comedy duo dumped some individuals who embraced the ethos of the old, engineering-oriented, relevant search results Google. The vacancies were filled with those who could shove more advertising into what once were clean, reasonably well-lighted places. At the same time, carpetland (my term for the executive corridor down which Messrs. Brin and Page once steered their Segways) elevated above the wonky world of the engineers, the programmers, the Ivory Tower thinker types, and outright wonkiness of the advanced research units. (Yes, there were many at one time.)

Using the thought processes of McKinsey (the opioid idea folks) and the elocutionary skills of Dr. Raghavan, Google search degraded while the money continued to flow. The story presented by Mr. Zitron is interesting. I will leave it to you to internalize it and thank your luck stars you are not given the biographical improvised explosive device as a seat cushion. Yowzah.

Several observations:

  1. I am not sure the Sundar & Prabhakar duo wrote the script for the Death of Google Search. Believe me, there were other folks in Google carpetland aiding the process. How about a baby maker in the legal department as an example of ground principles? What about an attempted suicide by a senior senior senior manager’s squeeze? What about a big time thinker’s untimely demise as a result of narcotics administered by a rental female?
  2. The problems at Google are a result of decades of high school science club members acting out their visions of themselves as masters of the universe and a desire to rig the game so money flowed. Cleverness, cute tricks, and owning the casino and the hotel and the parking lot were part of Google’s version of Hotel California. The business set up was money in, fancy dancing in public, and nerdland inside. Management? Hey, math is hard. Managing is zippo.
  3. The competitive arena was not set up for a disruptor like the Google. I do not want to catalog what the company did to capture what appears to be a very good market position in online advertising. After a quarter century, the idea that Google might be an alleged monopoly is getting some attention. But alleged is one thing; change is another.
  4. The innovator’s dilemma has arrived in the lair of Googzilla. After inventing tensors, OpenAI made something snazzy with them and cut a deal with Microsoft. The result was the AI hyper moment with Google viewed as a loser. Forget the money. Google is not able to respond, some said. Perception is important. The PR gaffe in Paris where Dr. Prabhakar showed off Bard outputting incorrect information; the protests and arrests of staff; and the laundry list of allegations about the company’s business practices in the EU are compounding the one really big problem — Google’s ability to control its costs. Imagine. A corporate grunt sport could be the hidden disease. Is Googzilla clear headed or addled? Time will tell I believe.

Net net: The man who killed Google is just an clueless accomplice, not the wizard with the death ray cooking the goose and its eggs. Ultimately, in my opinion, we have to blame the people who use Google products and services, rely on Google advertising, and trust search results. Okay, Dr. Raghavan, suspended sentence. Now you can go build your $300,000 Web search engine. I will be available to evaluate it as I did Search2, Neeva, and the other attempts to build a better Google. Can you do it? Sure, you will be a Xoogler. Xooglers can do anything. Just look at Mr. Brin’s airship. And that egg will wash off unlike that crazy idea to charge Verity customers for each entry in an index passed for each user’s query. And that’s the joke that’s funnier than the Paris bollocksing of smart software. Taxi meter pricing for an in-house, enterprise search system. That is truly hilarious.

Stephen E Arnold, April 30, 2024

The Google Explains the Future of the Google Cloud: Very Googley, Of Course

April 30, 2024

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

At its recent Next 24 conference, Google Cloud and associates shared their visions for the immediate future of AI. Through the event’s obscurely named Session Library, one can watch hundreds of sessions and access resources connected to many more. The idea — if you  have not caught on to the Googley nomenclature — is to make available videos of the talks at the conference. To narrow, one can filter by session category, conference track, learning level, solution, industry, topic of interest, and whether video is available. Keep in mind that the words you (a normal human, I presume) may use to communicate your interest may not be the lingo Googzilla speaks. AI and Machine Learning feature prominently. Other key areas include data and databases, security, development and architecture, productivity, and revenue growth (naturally). There is even a considerable nod to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Okay, nod, nod.

Here are a few session titles from just the “AI and ML” track to illustrate the scope of this event and the available information:

  • A cybersecurity expert’s guide to securing AI products with Google SAIF
  • AI for banking: Streamline core banking services and personalize customer experiences
  • AI for manufacturing: Enhance productivity and build innovative new business models
  • AI for telecommunications: Transform customer interactions and network operations
  • AI in capital markets: The biggest bets in the industry
  • Accelerate software delivery with Gemini and Code Transformations
  • Revolutionizing healthcare with AI
  • Streamlining access to youth mental health services

It looks like there is something for everybody. We think the titles make reasonably clear the scope and bigness of Google’s aspirations. Nor would we expect less from a $2 trillion outfit based on advertising, would we? Run a query for Code Red or in Google lingo CodeRED, and you will be surprised that the state of emergency, Microsoft is a PR king mentality persists. (Is this the McKinsey way?) Well, not for those employed at McKinsey. Former McKinsey professionals have more latitude in their management methods; for example, emulating high school science club planning techniques. There are no sessions we could spot about Google’s competition. If one is big enough, there is no competition. One of Googzilla’s relatives made a mess of Tokyo real estate largely without lasting consequences.

Cynthia Murrell, April 30, 2024

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