More Google PR: For an Outfit with an Interesting Past, Chattiness Is Now a Core Competency

May 23, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

How many speeches, public talks, and interviews did Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt do? To my recollection, not too many. And what about now? Larry Page is tough to find. Mr. Brin is sort of invisible. Eric Schmidt has backed off his claim that Qwant keeps him up at night? But Sundar Pichai, one half of the Sundar and Prabhakar Comedy Show, is quite visible. AI everywhere keynote speeches, essays about smart software, and now an original “he wrote it himself” essay in the weird salmon-tinted newspaper The Financial Times. Yeah, pinkish.

5 23 fast talking salesman

Smart software provided me with an illustration of a fast talker pitching the future benefits of a new product. Yep, future probabilities. Rock solid. Thank you, MidJourney.

What’s with the spotlight on the current Google big wheel? Gentle reader, the visibility is one way Google is trying to advance its agenda. Before I offer my opinion about the Alphabet Google YouTube agenda, I want to highlight three statements in “Google CEO: building AI Responsibly Is the Only Race That Really Matters.”

Statement from the Google essay #1

At Google, we’ve been bringing AI into our products and services for over a decade and making them available to our users. We care deeply about this. Yet, what matters even more is the race to build AI responsibly and make sure that as a society we get it right.

The theme is that Google has been doing smart software for a long time. Let’s not forget that the GOOG released the Transformer model as open source and sat on its Googley paws while “stuff happened” starting in 2018. Was that responsible? If so, what does Google mean when it uses the word “responsible” as it struggles to cope with the meme “Google is late to the game.” For example, Microsoft pulled off a global PR coup with its Davos’ smart software announcements. Google responded with the Paris demonstration of Bard, a hoot for many in the information retrieval killing field. That performance of the Sundar and Prabhakar Comedy Show flopped. Meanwhile, Microsoft pushed its “flavor” of AI into its enterprise software and cloud services. My experience is that for every big PR action, there is an equal or greater PR reaction. Google is trying to catch faster race cars with words, not a better, faster, and cheaper machine. The notion that Google “gets it right” means to me one thing: Maintaining quasi monopolistic control of its market and generating the ad revenue. Google, after 25 years of walking the same old Chihuahua in a dog park with younger, more agile canines. After 25 years of me too and flopping with projects like solving death, revenue is the ONLY thing that matters to stakeholders. More of the Sundar and Prabhakar routine are wearing thin.

Statement from the Google essay #2

We have many examples of putting those principles into practice…

The “principles” apply to Google AI implementation. But the word principles is an interesting one. Google is paying fines for ignoring laws and its principles. Google is under the watchful eye of regulators in the European Union due to Google’s principles. China wanted Google to change and then beavered away on a China-acceptable search system until the cat was let out of the bag. Google is into equality, a nice principle, which was implemented by firing AI researchers who complained about what Google AI was enabling. Google is not the outfit I would consider the optimal source of enlightenment about principles. High tech in general and Google in particular is viewed with increasing concern by regulators in US states and assorted nation states. Why? The Googley notion of principles is not what others understand the word to denote. In fact, some might say that Google operates in an unprincipled manner. Is that why companies like Foundem and regulatory officials point out behaviors which some might find predatory, mendacious, or illegal? Principles, yes, principles.

Statement from the Google essay #3

AI presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the world to reach its climate goals, build sustainable growth, maintain global competitiveness and much more.

Many years ago, I was in a meeting in DC, and the Donald Rumsfeld quote about information was making the rounds. Good appointees loved to cite this Donald.Here’s the quote from 2002:

There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.  We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

I would humbly suggest that smart software is chock full of known unknowns. But humans are not very good at predicting the future. When it comes to acting “responsibly” in the face of unknown unknowns, I dismiss those who dare to suggest that humans can predict the future in order to act in a responsible manner. Humans do not act responsibly with either predictability or reliability. My evidence is part of your mental furniture: Racism, discrimination, continuous war, criminality, prevarication, exaggeration, failure to regulate damaging technologies, ineffectual action against industrial polluters, etc. etc. etc.

I want to point out that the Google essay penned by one half of the Sundar and Prabhakar Comedy Show team could be funny if it were not a synopsis of the digital tragedy of the commons in which we live.

Stephen E Arnold, May 23, 2023


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