The Google Magic Editor: Mom Knows Best and Will Ground You, You Goof Off

November 13, 2023

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

What’s better at enforcing rules? The US government and its Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and regulatory authority or Mother Google? If you think the US government legal process into Google’s alleged fancy dancing with mere users is opaque, you are correct. The US government needs the Google more than Google Land needs the world’s governments. Who’s in charge of Google? The real authority is Mother Google, a ghost like iron maiden creating and enforcing with smart software many rules and regulations. Think of Mother Google operating from a digital Star Chamber. Banned from YouTube? Mother Google did it. Lost Web site traffic overnight? Mother Google did it? Lost control of your user data? Mother Google did not do that, of course.


A stern mother says, “You cannot make deep fakes involving your gym teacher and your fifth grade teacher. Do you hear me?” Thanks, Microsoft Bing. Great art.

The author of “Google Photos’ Magic Editor Will Refuse to Make These Edits.” The write up states:

Code within the latest version of Google Photos includes specific error messages that highlight the edits that Magic Editor will refuse to do. Magic Editor will refuse to edit photos of ID cards, receipts, images with personally identifiable information, human faces, and body parts. Magic Editor already avoids many of these edits but without specific error messages, leaving users guessing on what is allowed and what is not.

What’s interesting is that user have to discover that which is forbidden by experimenting. My reaction to this assertion is that Google does not want to get in trouble when a crafty teen cranks out fake IDs in order to visit some of the more interesting establishments in town.

I have a nagging suspicion or two  I would like to share:

  1. The log files identifying which user tried to create what with which prompt would be interesting to review
  2. The list of don’ts is not published because it is adjusted to meet Google’s needs, not the users’
  3. Google wants to be able to say, “See, we are trying to keep the Internet safe, pure, and tidy.”

Net net: What happens when smart software enforces more potent and more subtle controls over the framing and presenting of information? Right, mom?

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2023


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