The Alphabet Google YouTube Thing Explains Good Old Outcome Centered Design

April 8, 2021

If you have tried to locate information on a Google Map, you know what good design is, right? What about trying to navigate the YouTube upload interface to add or delete a “channel”? Perfection, okay. What if you have discovered an AMP error email and tried to figure out how a static Web site generated by an AMP approved “partner” can be producing a single flawed Web page? Intuitive and helpful, don’t you think?

Truth is: Google Maps are almost impossible to use regardless of device. The YouTube interface is just weird and better for a 10-year-old video game player than a person over 30, and the AMP messages? Just stupid.

I read “Waymo’s 7 Principles of Outcome-Centered Design Are What Your Product Needs” and thought I stumbled upon a listicle crafted by Stephen Colbert and Jo Koy in the O’Hare Airport’s Jazz Bar.

Waymo (so named because one get way more with Alphabet Google YouTube — hereinafter, AGYT)technology — is managed by co-CEOs. It is semi famous for hiring uber engineer Anthony Levandowski. Plus the company has been beavering away to make driving down 101 semi fun since 2009. The good news is that Waymo seems to be making more headway than the Google team trying to solve death. The Wikipedia entry for Waymo documents 12 collisions, but the exact number of smart  errors by the Alphabet Google YouTube software is not known even to some Googlers. Need to know, you know.

What are the rules for outcome centered design; that is, ads but no crashes I presume. The write up presents seven. Here are three and you can let your Chrome browser steer you to the full list. Don’t run into the Tesla Web site either, please.

Principle 2. Create focus by clarifying you8r purpose.

Okay, focus. Let’s see. When riding in a vehicle with no human in charge, the idea is to avoid a crash. What about filtering YouTube for okay content? Well, that only works some of the time. The Waymo crashes appear to underscore the fuzz in the statistical routines.

And Principle 4. Clue in to your customer’s context.

Yep, in a vehicle which knows one browsing history and has access to nifty profiles with probabilities allows the vehicle to just get going. Forget what the humanoid may want. Alphabet Google YouTube is ahead of the humanoid. Sometimes. The AFYT approach is to trim down what the humanoid wants to three options. Close enough for horse shoes. Waymo, like Alphabet Google YouTube, knows best. Just like a digital mistress. The humanoid, however, is going to a previously unvisited location. Another humanoid told the rider face to face about an emergency. The AGYT system cannot figure out context. Not to worry. Those AGYT interfaces will make everything really easy. One can talk to the Waymo equipped smart vehicle. Just speak clearly, slowly, and in a language which Waymo parses in an acceptable manner. Bororo won’t work.

Finally, Principle 7: Edit edit edit.

I think this means revisions. Those are a great idea. Alphabet Google YouTube does an outstanding job with dots, hamburger menus, and breezy writing in low contrast colors. Oh, content? If you don’t get it, you are not Googley. Speak up and you may be the Timnit treatment or the Congressional obfuscation rhetoric. I also like ignoring the antics of senior managers.

Yep, outcome centered. Great stuff. Were Messrs. Colbert and Koy imbibing something other than Sprite at the airport when possibly conjuring this list of really good tips? What’s the outcome? How about ads displayed to passengers in Waymo infused vehicles? Context centered, relevant, and a feature one cannot turn off.

Stephen E Arnold, April 8, 2021

Eschewing the Google: Career Suicide or Ethical Savvy?

March 19, 2021

I spotted an interested quote in Wired’s “The Departure of 2 Google AI Researchers Spurs More Fallout.” Here’s the quote:

“Google has shown an astounding lack of leadership and commitment to open science, ethics, and diversity in their treatment of the Ethical AI team.”

It’s been several months since the Google engaged in Gebru-gibberish; that is, the firm’s explanations about the departure of a PhD who wrote a research paper suggesting that the Google’s methods may not be a-okay.

The Google is pressing forward with smart software, which is, the future of the company. I thought online advertising was, but what do I know.

The article also mentions that a high profile AI researcher would not attend a Google AI event. The reason? Here’s what Wired reports:

Friday morning, Kress-Gazit emailed the event’s organizers to say she would not attend because she didn’t wish to be associated with Google research in any way. “Not only is the research process and integrity of Google tainted, but it is clear, by the way these women were treated, that all the diversity talk of the company is performative,” she wrote. Kress-Gazit says she didn’t expect her action to have much effect on Google, or her own future work, but she wanted to show solidarity with Gebru and Mitchell, their team, and their research agenda.

A few years ago, professionals would covet a Google tchotchke like a mouse pad or a flashing Google LED pin. (My tarnished and went dead years ago.) Now high profile academics are unfriending Messrs. Brin and Page online ad machine.

Interesting shift in attitude toward the high school science club company in a few pulses of Internet time.

Stephen E Arnold, March 19, 2021

Facebook: The Polarization Position

March 17, 2021

I find Silicon Valley “real” news amusing. I like the publications themselves; for example, Buzzfeed. I like the stories themselves; for example, “Polarization Is Good For America, Actually, Says Facebook Executive.”

How much of the Google method has diffused into Facebook? From my point of view, a magnetic influence exists. The cited article points out:

Facebook has created a ”playbook” to help its employees rebut criticism that the company’s products fuel political polarization and social division.

The idea is that employees comprise a team. The team runs plays in order to score. The playbook also directs and informs team members on their roles.

Trapped Priors As a Basic Problem of Rationality” explains how feedback loops lead to a reinforcement of ideas, data, and rationality otherwise not noticed.

Buzzfeed references this Facebook research document:

In the [Facebook] paper, titled “What We Know About Polarization,” Cox and Raychodhury [Facebook experts] call polarization “an albatross public narrative for the company.” “The implicit argument is that Facebook is contributing to a social problem of driving societies into contexts where they can’t trust each other, can’t share common ground, can’t have conversation about issues, and can’t share a common view on reality,” they write, adding that “the media narrative in this case is generally not supported by the research.” While denying that Facebook meaningfully contributes to polarization, Pablo Barberá, a research scientist at the company, also suggested political polarization could be a good thing during Thursday’s presentation. “If we look back at history, a lot of the major social movements and major transformations, for example, the extension of civil rights or voting rights in this country have been the result of increasing polarization,” he told employees.

The value of polarization and a game plan to make explicit a particular business method are high. The fact that the trappings of research are required to justify the game plan is interesting. But those trapped priors are going to channel Facebook’s behavior into easy-to-follow grooves.

Scrutiny, legal action, and “more of the same” will allow pot holes to form. Some will be deep. Others will be no big deal.

Stephen E Arnold, March 17, 2021

The Google: Disrupting Education in the Covid Era

March 15, 2021

I thought the Covid thing disrupted education. As a result, Google’s video conferencing system failed to seize an opportunity. Even poor, confused Microsoft put some effort into Teams. Sure, Teams is not the most secure or easy to use video conferencing service, but it has more features than Google has chat apps and ad options. Google also watched the Middle Kingdom’s favorite video service “zoom” right into a great big lead. Arguably, Google’s video conferencing tool should have hooked into the Chromebook, which is in the hands of some students. But what’s happened? Zoom, zoom, zoom.

I read this crisp headline: “Inside Google’s Plan to Disrupt the College Degree (Exclusive). Get a First Look at Google’s New Certificate Programs and a New Feature of Google Search Designed to Help Job Seekers Everywhere.”

Wow. The write up is an enthusiastic extension of Google Gibru-ish. Here’s why:

  1. Two candidates. One is a PhD from Princeton with a degree in computer science. The other is a minority certificate graduate. Both compete for the same job. Which candidate gets the job?
  2. One candidate, either Timnit Gebru or Margaret Mitchell. Both complete a Google certification program. Will these individuals get a fair shake and maybe get hired?
  3. Many female candidates from India. Some are funded by Google’s grant to improve opportunities for Indian females. How many will get Google jobs? [a] 80 to 99 percent, [b] 60 to 79 percent, [c] fewer than 60 percent? (I am assuming this grant and certificate thing are more than a tax deduction or hand waving.)

High school science club management decisions are fascinating to me.

Got your answers? I have mine.

For the PhD versus the certificate holder, the answer is it depends. A PhD with non Googley notions about ethical AI is likely to be driving an Uber. The certificate holder with the right mental orientation gets to play Foosball and do Googley things.

For the Gebru – Mitchell question, my answer is neither. Female, non-Googley, and already Xooglers. Find your future elsewhere is what I intuit.

And the females in India. Hard to say. The country is far away. The $20 million or so is too little. The cultural friction within the still existing castes are too strong. Maybe a couple is my guess.

In short, Google can try to disrupt education. But Covid has disrupted education. Another outfit has zoomed into chinks in the Google carapace. So marketing it is. It may work. Google is indeed Google.

Stephen E Arnold, March 15, 2021

Amazon and Personnel Wizardry?

March 11, 2021

Amazon likes to say it successfully promotes diversity and inclusion in its company, and some of the numbers it touts do represent a measure of success. However, there appears to be a lot of work left to do and not enough will to do it from the powerful “S Team.” Recode discusses “Bias, Disrespect and Demotions: Black Employees Say Amazon Has a Race Problem.” The extensive article begins with the story of former employee Chanin Kelly-Rae, a former global manager of diversity for AWS. She began the position with high hopes, but quit in dismay 10 months later. Reporter Meron Menghistab writes:

“Kelly-Rae, who is Black, is one of more than a dozen former and current Amazon corporate employees — 10 of whom are Black — who told Recode in interviews over the past few months that they felt the company has failed to create a corporate-wide environment where all Black employees feel welcomed and respected. Instead, they told Recode that, in their experience, Black employees at the company often face both direct and insidious bias that harms their careers and personal lives. All of the current and former employees, other than Kelly-Rae, spoke on condition of anonymity either because of the terms of their employment with Amazon or because they fear retribution from Amazon for speaking out about their experiences. Current and former Amazon diversity and inclusion professionals — employees whose work focuses on helping Amazon create and maintain an equitable workplace and products — told Recode that internal data shows that Amazon’s review and promotion systems have created an unlevel playing field. Black employees receive ‘least effective’ marks more often than all other colleagues and are promoted at a lower rate than non-Black peers. Recode reviewed some of this data for the Amazon Web Services division of the company, and it shows large disparities in performance review ratings between Black and white employees.”

Amazon, of course, disagrees with this characterization, but it is difficult to argue with all the points Menghistab considers: the many unsettling comments made to and about Black employees by higher-ups; the reluctance of management to embrace best practices suggested by their own diversity experts; the fact that diversity goals do not extend to top management positions; the rampant “down-leveling” of employees of color, its long-term effects on each worker, and the low chances of promotion; a hesitation to hire from historically Black colleges; and the problematic “Earns Trust” evaluation metric. We suggest interested readers navigate to the article to learn more about each of these and other factors.

Some minority employees say they have reason to hope. For one thing, the problems do not pervade the entire company—many teams happily hum along without any of these problems. The company is making a few small steps in the right direction, like requiring workers undergo diversity and inclusion training, participating in the Management Leadership of Tomorrow’s Black Equity at Work Certification, and holding a virtual career-enrichment summit for Black, Latinx, and Native American prospective employees. There will never be a quick and easy fix for the tech behemoth, but as Kelly-Rae observes:

“Amazon is really good at things it wants to be good at, and if Amazon decided it really wanted to be good at this, I have no doubt it can be.”

Time to step it up, Amazon.

Cynthia Murrell, March 11, 2021

Business Process Management: Buzzy Again

March 10, 2021

If you never heard about business process management (BPM) it means the practice of discovering and controlling an organization’s processes so they will align with business goals as the company evolves.  BPM software is the next phase of business intelligence software for enterprises.  CIO explains what to expect from BPM software in the article: “What Is Business Process Management? The Key To Enterprise Agility.

BPM software maps definitions to existing processes, defines steps to carry out tasks, and tips for streamlining/improving practices.  Organizations are constantly shifting to meet their goals and BPM is software is advertised as the best way to refine and control changing environments.  All good BPM software should have the following: alignment of the firm’s resources, increase discipline in daily operations, and clarify on strategic direction.  While most organizations want flexibility they lack it:

“A company can only be as flexible, efficient, and agile as the interaction of its business processes allow. Here’s the problem: Many companies develop business processes in isolation from other processes they interact with, or worse, they don’t “develop” business processes at all. In many cases, processes simply come into existence as “the way things have always been done,” or because software systems dictate them. As a result, many companies are hampered by their processes, and will continue to be so until those processes are optimized.”

When selecting a BPM software it should be capable of integrations, analytics, collaboration, form generation, have a business rules engine, and workflow managements.

BPM sounds like the next phase of big data, where hidden insights are uncovered in unstructured data.  BPM takes these insights, then merges them with an organization’s goals.  Business intelligence improves business processes, big data discovers insights, and BPM organizes all of it.

Whitney Grace, March 10, 2021

Ah, Google: Does Confusion Signal a Mental Health Issue?

March 8, 2021

Upon rising this morning, I noted this item in “The New Google Pay Repeats All the Same Mistakes of Google Allo.” The idea is that Google management has reinvented an application, changed the fee method, and named the “new” Google Pay app “Google Pay.” According to the write up:

Google is killing one perfectly fine service and replacing it with a worse, less functional service.

Slashdot’s item about this remarkable “innovation” includes this comment:

The worst part of it all is that, like the move from Google Music to YouTube Music, there is no reward at the end of this transition.

I have to admit that I don’t remember much about my college psych course, but I seem to recall something called Schizoaffective Disorder. Shrinks revel in such behaviors as sometimes strange beliefs that the person refuses to give up, even when they get the facts; problems with speech and communication, only giving partial answers to questions or giving answers that are unrelated; and problems with speech and communication, only giving partial answers to questions, or giving answers that are unrelated, and trouble at work, school, or in social settings. (Yep, I had to get some help from the ever reliable

More intriguing was the news item “Google Advised Mental Health Care When Workers Complained about Racism and Sexism.” That article asserted:

In early 2020, a Black woman attended a Google meeting about supporting women at the company where data was presented that showed the rate that underrepresented minority employees were leaving the company. When she said that Black, Latina and Native American women have vastly different experiences than their white female colleagues and advised that Google address the issue internally, her manager brusquely responded, telling her that her suggestion was not relevant, the woman said. The woman then complained to human resources, who advised her to coach the manager about her problematic response or take medical leave to tend to her own mental health, she said. The woman also spoke on the condition of anonymity because she’s still an employee and not permitted to speak to reporters.

Does this mean that the women who worked in ethical artificial intelligent were “mentally unfit” for the Google?

Stepping back, the problem may not be with the Google Pay app or the people reported as mental health concerns. The problem appears to reside in the culture and explicit and implicit “rules of the road” for Alphabet Google.

Several observations may be warranted:

  • The legal attention Google is drawing should result in lower profile or significant efforts to avoid personnel related issues becoming news. Google’s behavior appears to generate significant attention and spark outrage, including increased employee annoyance.
  • The financial pressures on Google should be sparking wizards to craft well conceived, highly desirable ways to monetize billions of users who make use of “free” Google services. It certainly seems that Google is taking steps which seem to be irrational to those outside Google whilst appearing to be logical to those steeped in the Google milieu. The Google culture could be a form of milieu therapy which feeds to possible Schizoaffective Disorder.
  • Google’s management behaviors are interesting. On one hand, naming services underscores the problems the firm has with speech and communication. On the other hand, mashing racial, social, and ethical hot buttons seems to escalate the stakes in the personnel game.

Net net: I think these behaviors are interesting. What these actions really mean must be left to user, employees, lawyers, and probably psychiatrists. These actions are further evidence of the weaknesses of the high school science club approach to management. Here in rural Kentucky, one of my research team said, “Crazy.”

That’s quite an observation about a big, informed, powerful company.

Stephen E Arnold, March 8, 2021

Google Gets Kicked Out of Wizard Class: Gibru Jibberish to Follow

March 5, 2021

I read “AI Ethics Research Conference Suspends Google Sponsorship.” Imagine, a science club type organization suspended. Assuming the “real” and ad-littered story is accurate, here’s the scoop:

The ACM Conference for Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAccT) has decided to suspend its sponsorship relationship with Google, conference sponsorship co-chair and Boise State University assistant professor Michael Ekstrand confirmed today. The organizers of the AI ethics research conference came to this decision a little over a week after Google fired Ethical AI lead Margaret Mitchell and three months after the firing of Ethical AI co-lead Timnit Gebru. Google has subsequently reorganized about 100 engineers across 10 teams, including placing Ethical AI under the leadership of Google VP Marian Croak.

The Association for Computing Machinery no less. How many Googlers and Xooglers are in this ACM entity? How many Google and Xoogle papers has the ACM accepted? Now suspended. Yikes, just a high school punishment for an outfit infused with the precepts of high school science club management and behavior.

What’s interesting is the injection of the notion of “ethical.” The world’s largest education and scientific organization is not into talking, understanding the Google point of view, or finding common ground.

Disruptors, losers, and non-fitting wizards and wizardettes are not appropriate for the ethic sub group of ACM. Oh, is that ethical? Good question.

But ACM knows who writes checks. The ad besotted article states:

Putting Google sponsorship on hold doesn’t mean the end of sponsorship from Big Tech companies, or even Google itself. DeepMind, another sponsor of the FAccT conference that incurred an AI ethics controversy in January, is also a Google company. Since its founding in 2018, FAccT has sought funding from Big Tech sponsors like Google and Microsoft, along with the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. An analysis released last year that compares Big Tech funding of AI ethics research to Big Tobacco’s history of funding health research found that nearly 60% of researchers at four prominent universities have taken money from major tech companies.

Should I raise another question about the ethics of this wallet sensitive posture? Nah. Money talks.

I find the blip on the ethical radar screen quite amusing. One learns each day what really matters in the world of computers and smart software. That’s a plus.

I am waiting for Google Gibru gibberish to explain the situation. I am all ears.

Stephen E Arnold, March 5, 2021

Gebru-Gibberish: A Promise, Consultants, and Surgical Management Action

March 1, 2021

I read “Google Reportedly Promises Change to Research Team after High Profile Firings.” The article explains that after female artificial intelligence researchers found their futures elsewhere, Google (the mom and pop neighborhood online ad agency) will:

will change its research review procedures this year.

Okay, 10 months.

The write up points out that the action is

an apparent bid to restore employee confidence in the wake of two high-profile firings of prominent women from the [AI ethics] division.

Yep, words. I found this passage redolent of Gebru-gibberish; that is, wordage which explains how smart software ethics became a bit of a problem for the estimable Google outfit:

By the end of the second quarter, the approvals process for research papers will be more smooth and consistent, division Chief Operating Officer Maggie Johnson reportedly told employees in the meeting. Research teams will have access to a questionnaire that allows them to assess their projects for risk and navigate review, and Johnson predicted that a majority of papers would not require additional vetting by Google. Johnson also said the division is bringing in a third-party firm to help it conduct a racial-equity impact assessment, Reuters reports, and she expects the assessment’s recommendations “to be pretty hard.”

Okay. A questionnaire. A third party firm. Pretty hard.

What’s this mean?

The Ars Technica write up does not translate. However, from my vantage point in rural Kentucky, I understand the Gebru-gibberish to mean:

  1. Talk about ethical smart software and the GOOG reacts in a manner informed by high school science club principles
  2. Female AI experts are perceived as soft targets but that may be a misunderstanding in the synapses of the Google
  3. The employee issues at Google are overshadowing other Google challenges; for example, the steady rise of Amazon product search, the legal storm clouds, and struggles with the relevance of ads displayed in response to user queries or viewed YouTube videos.

Do I expect more Gebru-gibberish?

Will Microsoft continue to insist that its SAML is the most wonderful business process in the whole wide world?

Stephen E Arnold, March 1, 2021

Remarkable Zoom Advice

March 1, 2021

I am either 76 or 77. Who knows? Who cares? I do participate in Zoom calls, and I found this “recommendation” absolutely life changing. The information appears in “You SHOULD Wave at the End of Video Calls — Here’s Why.” Straight-away I marvel at the parental “should.” There’s nothing like a mom admonishment when it comes to Zoom meetings.

The write up posits:

I already know that every call here ends with a lot of waving), and the group unanimously favors waving.

The idea is that a particular group is into waving appears to support the generalization that waving good bye at the end of Zoom calls is the proper method of exiting a digital experience.

I learned:

Here’s the definitive ruling for the entire internet, from now until the end of time: waving at the end of video calls is good, and no one should feel bad for doing it. Ever.

Okay, maybe feeling bad is not the issue.

Looking stupid, inappropriate, weird, or childish may be other reasons for doubting this incredibly odd advice. Look. People exiting my Zoom meetings are not waving good bye to friends climbing on the Titanic in April 1912.

Why wave? The explanation:

Humans aren’t machines — we’re social animals. We want to feel connected to each other, even in a work context. Suddenly hanging up feels inhuman (because it is). Waving and saying goodbye solves this problem.

Holy Cow! Humans are not machines. News flash: At least one Googler wants to become a machine, and there will be others. In fact, I know humans who are machine like, in fact.

I hope I never see a wave ending my next lecture for law enforcement and intelligence professionals waving at me. I say thank you and punch the end meeting for all.

I am confident that those testifying via video conference connections will not wave at lawyers, elected officials, or investigators. Will Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg wave to EU officials in the forthcoming probes into the company’s business methods?

Stephen E Arnold, March 1, 2021

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