Who Is On First? It Is a Sacrifice Play, Sports Fans

June 19, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

Apologies to Abbott and Costello. Who is on first when it comes to running “search” at Google. I thought it was Prabhakar Raghavan, that master of laughs and one half of the Sundar & Prabhakar Comedy Show. But I was, it seems, once again wrong. “Google’s Head of Search Tells Employees That AI Will Keep Making Absurd Mistakes, but They’re Gonna Keep Pushing It Out” contains several shockers to my worn out dinobaby systems.


The comedian tells a joke about AI and then reveals the punch line. “It’s ad money.” Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Good enough.

First, forget Prabhakar, that master of the comedy demonstrations. “Hey, it is only a fact. So what if it is wrong, you user.” The head of search is Liz Reid. I know. You may be asking, “Who?” Ms. Reid has been employed at Google for decades. But don’t fret, Comedy Central fans, Prabhakar is in charge, according to the pooh-bah at The Verge. Whew. That’s a relief.

Second, the crazy outputs from Google’s smart software are nothing to get excited about. The write up reports Ms. Reid said:

“I don’t think we should take away from this that we shouldn’t take risks,” Reid said during the meeting. “We should take them thoughtfully. We should act with urgency. When we find new problems, we should do the extensive testing but we won’t always find everything and that just means that we respond.”

That’s the spirit. A Minimum Viable Product.

Third, Google’s real love is advertising. While this head of search and don’t worry AI dust up is swirling, please, ignore Google’s “new” advertising network. If you must learn about what Google is doing behind the dust cloud of AI, navigate to “Google Is Putting Unskippable In-Stream Ads in Your Free TV Channels.” The AI stuff is interesting, but the Googzilla is definitely interested in creating new video advertising streams. AI, meh. Ads, yeah, let’s go.

The head of search articulates what I would call the “good enough” and Minimum Viable Product attitude. The Absurd Mistakes article reports:

When reached by CNBC, a defensive Google spokesperson said the “vast majority” of AI Overview responses were accurate and that upon its own internal testing, the company found issues on “less than one in every 7 million unique queries on which AI Overviews appeared.”

Is there another character in the wings ready to take over the smart software routine? Sure. Sundar & Prabhakar are busy with the ad play. That will make it to Broadway. AI can open in Pittsburgh or Peoria.

Stephen E Arnold, June 19, 2014


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