Google Gems for the Week of 19 February, 2024

February 27, 2024

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

This week’s edition of Google Gems focuses on a Hope Diamond and a handful of lesser stones. Let’s go.


In the chaos of the AI Gold Rush, horses fall and wizard engineers realize that they left their common sense in the saloon. Here’s the Hope Diamond from the Google.

The world’s largest online advertising agency created smart software with a lot of math, dump trucks filled with data, and wizards who did not recall that certain historical figures in the US were not of color. “Google Says Its AI Image-Generator Would Sometimes Overcompensate for Diversity,” an Associated Press story, explains in very gentle rhetoric that its super sophisticate brain and DeepMind would get the race of historical figures wrong. I think this means that Ben Franklin could look like a Zulu prince or George Washington might have some resemblance to Rama (blue skin, bow, arrow, and snappy hat).

My favorite search and retrieval expert Prabhakar Raghavan (famous for his brilliant lecture in Paris about the now renamed Bard) indicated that Google’s image rendering system did not hit the bull’s eye. No, Dr. Raghavan, the digital arrow pierced the micrometer thin plastic wrap of Google’s super sophisticated, quantum supremacy, gee-whiz technology.


The message I received from Google when I asked for an illustration of John Hancock, an American historical figure. Too bad because this request goes against Google’s policies. Yep, wizards infused with the high school science club management method.

More important, however, was how Google’s massive stumble complemented OpenAI’s ChatGPT wonkiness. I want to award the Hope Diamond Award for AI Ineptitude to both Google and OpenAI. But, alas, there is just one Hope Diamond. The award goes to the quantumly supreme outfit Google.

[Note: I did not quote from the AP story. Why? Years ago the outfit threatened to sue people who use their stories’ words. Okay, no problemo, even though the newspaper for which I once worked supported this outfit in the days of “real” news, not recycled blog posts. I listen, but I do not forget some things. I wonder if the AP knows that Google Chrome can finish a “real” journalist’s sentences for he/him/she/her/it/them. Read about this “feature” at this link.]

Here are my reasons:

  1. Google is in catch-up mode and like those in the old Gold Rush, some fall from their horses and get up close and personal with hooves. How do those affect the body of a wizard? I have never fallen from a horse, but I saw a fellow get trampled when I lived in Campinas, Brazil. I recall there was a lot of screaming and blood. Messy.
  2. Google’s arrogance and intellectual sophistication cannot prevent incredible gaffes. A company with a mixed record of managing diversity, equity, etc. has demonstrated why Xooglers like Dr. Timnit Gebru find the company “interesting.” I don’t think Google is interesting. I think it is disappointing, particularly in the racial sensitivity department.
  3. For years I have explained that Google operates via the high school science club management method. What’s cute when one is 14 loses its charm when those using the method have been at it for a quarter century. It’s time to put on the big boy pants.


The previous week revealed a dirt trail with some sharp stones and thorny bushes. Here’s a quick selection of the sharpest and thorniest:

  1. The Google is running webinars to inform publishers about life after their wonderful long-lived cookies. Read more at
  2. Google has released a small model as open source. What about the big model with the diversity quirk? Well, no. Read more at the weird green Verge thing.
  3. Google cares about  AI safety. Yeah, believe it or not. Read more about this PR move on Techcrunch.
  4. Web search competitors will fail. This is a little stone. Yep, a kidney stone for those who don’t recall Neeva. Read more at Techpolicy.
  5. Did Google really pay $60 million to get that outstanding Reddit content. Wow. Maybe Google looks at different sub reddits than my research team does. Read more about it in 9 to 5 Google.
  6. What happens when an uninformed person uses the Google Cloud? Answer: Sticker shock. More about this estimable method in The Register.
  7. Some spoil sport finds traffic lights informed with Google’s smart software annoying. That’s hard to believe. Read more at this link.
  8. Google pointed out in a court filing that DuckDuckGo was a meta search system (that is, a search interface to other firm’s indexes) and Neeva was a loser crafted by Xooglers. Read more at this link.

No Google Hope Diamond report would be complete without pointing out that the online advertising giant will roll out its smart software to companies. Read more at this link. Let’s hope the wizards figure out that historical figures often have quite specific racial characteristics like Rama.

I wanted to include an image of Google’s rendering of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. What you see in the illustration above is what I got. Wow. I have more “gemmas”, but I just don’t want to present them.

Stephen E Arnold, February 27, 2024


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