Google Takes On Russia In Epic Fight

January 26, 2018

It is foolish to challenge Russia to a fight.  Napoleon lost his throne because he tried to invade Russia during winter.  Hitler pissed off Stalin during World War II, so Russia switched sides, then the Nazis invaded in winter.  It is a really bad idea to invade Russia, especially in winter.  Google is duking it out with Russia, but this war is digital so maybe Alphabet stands a chance.  The Washington Report discusses the wired Cold war in, “Google Is Getting Pulled Into A Fight With Russia Over RT And Sputnik.”  The real battle is with two Russian news outlets RT and Sputnik, but they are owned by the government.

The reason for battle is due to Russians apparent and supposed influence on US politics-most notably, the 2016 presidential election.  Russia is accused of spreading fake news through RT and Sputnik.  News outlets like Google News picks these up and are pushed to US readers.  Russia is threatening to retaliate if Google pushes RT and Sputniks’ ratings lower in search rankings.  Google decided to curb fake news stories that could be weaponized information against the US.  Russia’s RT and Sputnik are amongst those that distribute fake news.

When asked why Russian-backed sites enjoy favorable placement on Google’s platforms, Schmidt said, ‘We are working on detecting this kind of scenario … de-ranking those kinds of sites. It’s basically RT and Sputnik are the two.’ He added that the company does not want to ban the outlets. And according to Google, the company does not re-rank individual websites.

Russia is, of course, is not happy.  They claim that Google is being discriminatory and are demanding that Eric Schmidt explain himself.  Google just wants to curb fake news and also make sure their platform is not used for nefarious purposes.  Good luck, Google.  Russia is hard to defeat, but how do they stand on the digital front?

Whitney Grace, January 26, 2018

Bing Feverishly Tries to Catch Google

December 18, 2017

Google’s kid brother, Bing, has been trying to get the world’s attention basically since its inception. However, the king of search is a tough one to upstage. Bing thinks it has a bright idea on how to best Google, as we discovered in a recent eWeek story, “Microsoft Bing Delivers More ‘Birdseye’ Views of Points of Interest.”

According to the story, Bing thinks the answer lies in their mapping option,

Bird’s Eye uses oblique imagery processing technology to provide detail-packed views that can help travelers navigate their surroundings by sight.

 

Oblique imagery is a great complement to Aerial 2D imagery because it has much more depth and provides a view of your destination that is more familiar and in line with what people expect,” stated Microsoft Bing staffers in a blog post. “You can see Bird’s Eye imagery in Bing Maps, and this view can offer a better context for navigation because building facades can be used as landmarks.

It’s admirable that Bing is trying to outdo Google, but more detailed maps are probably not the way to go about it. At the end of the day, it all comes down to search power and Bing just doesn’t have it. Google has such a foothold in the market that the competition looks pretty silly by comparison, like how Firefox and Yahoo recently sued one another.

Patrick Roland, December 18, 2017

Googles Data Police Fail with Creepy Videos

December 13, 2017

YouTube is suffering from a really strange problem lately. In various children’s programming feeds, inappropriate knockoff videos of popular cartoon characters keep appearing. It has parents outraged, as we learned in a Fast Company article, “Creepy Kids Videos Like These Keep Popping Up on YouTube.”

The videos feature things like Elle from “Frozen” firing machine guns. According to the story:

A YouTube policy imposed this year says that videos showing “family entertainment characters” being “engaged in violent, sexual, vile, or otherwise inappropriate behavior” can’t be monetized with ads on the platform. But on Monday evening Fast Company found at least one violent, unlicensed superhero video, entitled “Learn Colors With Superheroes Finger Family Song Johny Johny Yes Papa Nursery Rhymes Giant Syringe,” still included ads. A YouTube spokesperson didn’t immediately comment, but by Tuesday the video’s ads had been removed.

The videos may well draw ire from legislators, as Congress takes an increasingly close look at user-generated content online in the wake of Russian election manipulation.

It feels like they really need to have a tighter rein on content. But it would surprise us if this Congress would impose too much on YouTube’s parent company, Google. With Net Neutrality likely being erased by Congress, the idea of any deeper oversight is unlikely. If anything, we think Google will be given less oversight.

Patrick Roland, December 13, 2017

No More International Google Searches

December 6, 2017

One of the better things about Google is that when you needed to search for results in a different country, all you needed to do was change the domain tag.  Google has decided it does not want to do that anymore shares the Verge in the article, “Google No Longer Lets You Change Domains To Search Other Countries.”

Google, instead, will deliver localized results based on your location.

If you need to access international results, however, the option can be changed on the settings menu on the bottom of google.com.  Yes, you have to look for it, but it is there.  Why does Google want to do this?

Google says it’s making the change because one out of five searches “is related to location,” and the company feels it’s critical to offer local information to provide the best results. The feature seems to be tailored most toward travelers: Google says that if you visit another country, it’ll automatically serve results local to where you’re visiting, then switch back again as soon as you arrive home. Before, if a traveler had kept typing in their home country’s Google domain, they may not have gotten what Google sees as ideal search results.

Before you think this is another way Google is trying to control search content, apparently Alphabet Inc. has already been doing this with YouTube and Gmail.  The procedure has just been carried over to search results, but at least there is a way out of the localized content.

Whitney Grace, December 6, 2017

Alexa Can Name the Tune If You Sing a Bar

November 24, 2017

A brief write-up at MakeUseOf points out a nifty Alexa capability—“How to Search for Songs by Lyrics on Amazon Echo.” Writer Nancy Messieh writes:

One of the Echo’s native features (recently pointed out by Lifehacker) is the ability to search for songs by lyrics. Rather than pulling up a browser on your phone or computer, you can just ask Alexa using the voice command ‘Alexa, what’s the song that goes [lyrics]?’ If Alexa recognizes the song, she’ll let you know the title and artist and will start playing the song immediately. Amazon also recently released a list of the top 50 most requested songs by lyrics through Alexa. The number one song HandClap by Fitz and the Tantrums. Other artists that appear on the list include Justin Timberlake, Journey, Ed Sheeran, and Queen.

The feature can also report the most-searched songs by the city, though so far that list only includes five major cities in the U.S. Perhaps the Echo will add cities as more users take advantage of the search-by-lyrics feature.

Cynthia Murrell, November 24, 2017

Google Leans Left with Climate Search Results

September 13, 2017

Most Google users never think about bias and politics when they search or read suggested pages. Many, though, believe that the average Google user is being sold a bill of goods when searching about climate on Google. A recent WUWT investigation discovered that Google is manipulating the search results to favor left-leaning political ideas. WUWT quotes Google as claiming that their ranking is determined by the following criteria: “High-quality information pages on scientific topics should represent a well established scientific consensus on issues where such consensus exists.” (Section 3.2)

The author goes on to explain,

But the allegations of ‘scientific consensus’ are made only in one field – climate alarmism!  ‘Scientific consensus’ is almost an oxymoron.  The consensus is a decision-making method used outside of science.

Google was set up to be free from bias, but according to their own explanation, they tend to support the most popular opinion which is a dangerous route to take. Would people want a truly impartial system of search, allowing each searcher to evaluate the source for accuracy and ‘scientific consensus’, or do we like to rely on others, and Google, to make the hard decisions for us?

Catherine Lamsfuss, September 13, 2017

Google as Art Teacher

August 3, 2017

A recent Google improvement focuses on art, we learn from “Google’s Improved Search Seeks to Make Us All Art Experts” at CNet. Now, results of art-related Google searches will be packed with relevant information and, in many cases, high-resolution images. Museums around the world have been working with Google to enable these features. Reporter Zoey Chong cites a blog post from the company as she writes:

The new feature — mildly reminiscent of the travel guide tab that comes up when you search a city or country — is the result of a collaboration between Google’s Arts and Culture team and its search engineers. When you search for an artist like Gustav Klimt, for example, an interactive panel pops up that allows you to see an overview of the artist, his works, as well as where you can find them. Some pieces can also be viewed in high-resolution. Google said this is made possible with the Art Camera, a custom-made robotic camera to digitize artworks. A fleet of these cameras travels around the world and cultural institutions can use them digitally preserve and share artworks online. Google has also implemented similar features on Street View. If you navigate around museums, you can click on a painting to see it in high-resolution or to understand more information, which Google said is provided by the museums.

A short video embedded in the article demonstrates how this looks in Street View. Chong tried the feature out with works at the National Gallery Singapore, and reports that not every piece of artwork she virtually viewed has more information available; that is because the museums get to decide how much they wish to share online. The company reports that, on their platform, over 500 million searches a month are art-related.

Cynthia Murrell, August 3, 2017

Google Develops a Job-Hunt Feature

July 17, 2017

Does the process of searching for a job really need an innovative update? Apparently, Google believes so, as  Quartz reports in, “Google Is Testing a Job-Search Feature that Could Rival LinkedIn—and Facebook.” Writer Joon Ian Wong cites SEO consultant Dan Shure, who stumbled upon an apparent test-run of the feature. We learn:

Dan Shure apparently triggered the feature by entering ‘jobs online’ in the Google search box. This returns a specially formatted box containing a list of jobs above the main search results. Clicking these jobs leads to a portal where users can select tabs to display jobs by title, city, employer, and more. The page also shows jobs by industry, including health care, advertising and marketing, and retail. The jobs listed are attributed to third-party job sites, such as Internships.com and Catholic Jobs Online. …

 

The broad base of jobs available on the search feature suggests Google is going after the same general jobs market as Facebook is, with its own jobs function. LinkedIn is better known for its white-collar listings, but it, too, has been trying to cater to workers of all types, including blue-collar workers (paywall), in recent years.

Wong notes the company has also been developing Google Hire, a recruitment-management tool for the employer side, but with no fanfare. So it does seem that Google is stepping into the job-hunt & worker-search arena. Can it compete with LinkedIn, the niche’s veteran?

Cynthia Murrell, July 17, 2017

Google Ups the Ante for Local SEO

July 14, 2017

Google is now allowing small businesses to insert content directly into search results. The content can be a special event or anything related to business that will appear as featured snippet in the carousel.

As reported by The Verge in an article titled Local Businesses Can Now Feature Content Directly in Google Search Results, the author says:

The new posts show up below the company card in search results, where information like the location, phone number, web address, and hours of the company are already aggregated. The Posts feature is available starting today for verified companies using Google My Business.

As more business move their marketing activities online, it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to reach out to their customers. Google, being the leader in this space does not want local business to miss out on this and is rolling out services like these for small businesses.

Digital marketing already is too competitive for small businesses with limited budgets. With these changes, Google expects that local businesses will try to introduce digital marketing into their marketing mix. Google gains by procuring data of local businesses. What else does it want?

Vishal Ingole July 14, 2017

Salesforce Einstein and Enterprise AI

May 5, 2017

One customer-relationship-management (CRM) firm is determined to leverage the power of natural language processing within its clients’ organizations. VentureBeat examines “What Salesforce Einstein Teaches Us About Enterprise AI.” The company positions its AI tool as a layer within its “Clouds” that brings the AI magic to CRM. They vow that the some-odd 150,000 existing Salesforce customers can deploy Einstein quickly and easily.

Salesforce has invested much in the project, having snapped up RelatelQ for $390 million, BeyondCore for $110 million, Predicition IO for $58 million, and MetaMind for an undisclosed sum. Competition is fierce in this area, but the company is very pleased with the results so far. Writer Mariya Yao cites Salesforce chief scientist Richard Socher as she examines:

The Salesforce AI Research team is innovating on a ‘joint many-task’ learning approach that leverages transfer learning, where a neural network applies knowledge of one domain to other domains. In theory, understanding linguistic morphology should also accelerate understanding of semantics and syntax.

In practice, Socher and his deep learning research team have been able to achieve state-of-the-art results on academic benchmark tests for main entity recognition (identifying key objects, locations, and persons) and semantic similarity (identifying words and phrases that are synonyms). Their approach can solve five NLP tasks — chunking, dependency parsing, semantic relatedness, textual entailment, and part of speech tagging — and also builds in a character model to handle incomplete, misspelled, or unknown words.

Socher believes that AI researchers will achieve transfer learning capabilities in more comprehensive ways in 2017 and that speech recognition will be embedded in many more aspects of our lives. ‘Right now, consumers are used to asking Siri about the weather tomorrow, but we want to enable people to ask natural questions about their own unique data.’

That would indeed be helpful. The article goes on to discuss the potentials for NLP in the enterprise and emphasizes the great challenge of implementing solutions into a company’s workflow. See the article for more discussion. Based in San Francisco, Salesforce was launched in 1999 by a former Oracle executive.

Cynthia Murrell, May 5, 2017

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