Google: Practicing But Not Learning in France

March 22, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

I had to comment on this Google synthetic gems. The online advertising company with the Cracker Jack management team is cranking out titbits every days or two. True, none of these rank with the Microsoft deal to hire some techno-management wizards with DeepMind experience, but I have to cope with what flows into rural Kentucky.


Those French snails are talkative — and tasty. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Are you going to license, hire, or buy DeepMind?

Google Fined $270 Million by French Regulatory Authority” delivers what strikes me a Lego block information about the estimable company. The write up presents yet another story about Google’s footloose and fancy free approach to French laws, rules, and regulations. The write up reports:

This latest fine is the result of Google’s artificial intelligence training practices. The [French regulatory] watchdog said in a statement that Google’s Bard chatbot — which has since been rebranded as Gemini —”used content from press agencies and publishers to train its foundation model, without notifying either them” or the Authority.

So what did the outstanding online advertising company do? The news story asserts:

The watchdog added that Google failed to provide a technical opt-out solution for publishers, obstructing their ability to “negotiate remuneration.”

The result? Another fine.

Google has had an interesting relationship with France. The country was the scene of the outstanding presentation of the Sundar and Prabhakar demonstration of the quantumly supreme Bard smart software. Google has written checks to France in the past. Now it is associated with flubbing what are relatively straightforward for France requirements to work with publishers.

Not surprisingly, the outfit based in far off California allegedly said, according to the cited news story:

Google criticized a “lack of clear regulatory guidance,” calling for greater clarity in the future from France’s regulatory bodies.  The fine is linked to a copyright case that began in 2020, when the French Authority found Google to be acting in violation of France’s copyright and related rights law of 2019.

My experience with France, French laws, and the ins and outs of working with French organizations is limited. Nevertheless, my son — who attended university in France — told me an anecdote which illustrates how French laws work. Here’s the tale which I assume is accurate. He is a reliable sort.

A young man was in the immigration office in Paris. He and his wife were trying to clarify a question related to her being a French citizen. The bureaucrat had not accepted her birth certificate from a municipal French government, assorted documents from her schooling from pre-school to university, and the oddments of electric bills, rental receipts, and medical records. The husband who was an American told me son, “This office does not think my wife is French. She is. And I think we have it nailed this time. My wife has a photograph of General De Gaulle awarding her father a medal.” My son told me, “Dad, it did not work. The husband and wife had to refile the paperwork to correct an error made on the original form.”

My takeaway from this anecdote is that Google may want to stay within the bright white lines in France. Getting entangled in the legacy of Napoleon’s red tape can be an expensive, frustrating experience. Perhaps the Google will learn? On the other hand, maybe not.

Stephen E Arnold,  March 22, 2023


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