Google Realizes Making Big News Is Big Pain

November 5, 2021

Yahoo hired Marissa Meyer as CEO in 2012 to de-semelize, yangize, bartzize, morse-ize, thompsonize, levinshohnize the once coherent portal. One idea she had to reinvigorate Yahoo was to make it a top news authority. She hired the best journalists in the business and subsequently failed. Google is learning that being a news provider is harder than it appears. Search Engine Journal explains Google’s newest media endeavor in the article, “Google Is Developing ‘Big Moments’ Feature For Breaking News.”

Google has a poor reputation for curating news. The search engine giant wants to rectify that problem with a new search feature called “Big Moments.” Google has been working on “Big Moments” for over a year. Big Moments launched after Google’s employees complained about the lack of access to real-time news.

People visit Google to search for news after it happens. For updated news, people turn on the television or visit social media Web sites like Facebook or Twitter. Google wants that traffic, so they are hoping this new endeavor will hook people seeking news:

“Big Moments will provide historical context about events when possible, and go beyond what Google typically shows in search results for news stories. If the story is a natural disaster like a hurricane, for example, Big Moments may list authoritative facts about deaths and injury counts, as well as data about the frequency of hurricanes in the area. Google may pull in information for Big Moments from open source data repositories such as Data Commons, which gathers data from US government agencies and is hosted by Google.”

Big Moments uses machine learning technology that Google developed in 2018. Elizabeth Reid is leading the project.

Google’s Big Moments is moving more towards news editorial content curation. Google relies on algorithms to automate its processes, while news services rely on humans for editorial content. Google cannot add human curators, because it would delay the desired instantaneous response.

Algorithms are getting what appears to be “smarter” and some can even write legible content. However, they still lack human reasoning and ability to respond to changing news with human logic. Humans are still needed in journalism and news curation.

Whitney Grace, October 19, 2021

A Google Tax?

November 3, 2021

I read “Google Takes Up to 42% from Ads, States Say in Antitrust Case.” The article contains one interesting statement:

“More daily transactions are made on AdX than on the NYSE and NASDAQ combined,” a group of 16 states and Puerto Rico said in their complaint, saying they were quoting “Google’s own words.”

How are these transactions and their fees perceived? The article offers a clue:

“Google now uses its immense market power to extract a very high tax of 22 to 42% of the ad dollars otherwise flowing to the countless online publishers and content producers such as online newspapers, cooking websites, and blogs who survive by selling advertisements on their websites and apps,” the states said in the unredacted filing.

I assume that one could make a Latinate sentence like this:

Facebook ripped the social fabric; Google killed traditional advertising.

If I were not tired, I would translate the sentence and see if it would pass the scrutiny of ablative loving Mr. Bushman, my high school Latin teacher.


Don’t care about Latin translations, and I don’t care too much about decades late understanding of the Google business model.

Free has a price: No cost and the ability to realize what’s shaking in near real time.

Stephen E Arnold, November 3, 2021

Novara: Why One Has to Buy Google Ads, Comply with Google Rules, and Embrace AMP

November 1, 2021

I read “How a Mistake by YouTube Shows Its Power over Media.” The write up is is sort of accurate. I learned:

Novara [a media outfit, not a province in Italy] had spent years using YouTube to attract more than 170,000 subscribers for its left-leaning coverage of issues like climate change, capitalism and social policy. Suddenly, and without warning, that powerful distribution tool was zapped — leaving people in the newsroom wondering how the organization could survive.

Okay, Alphabet (the outfit which is not to be confused with Google which is not to be confused with YouTube) deleted a content creator.

The New York Times is concerned. Keep in mind. This is the outfit which Google-izes its headlines in order to keep the Google clicks coming.

The New York Times’ story overlooks one key point: When Alphabet, Google, YouTube flexes its censorship muscles there is just one takeaway: If you are not in Google, you don’t exist.

What’s the fix? Buy Google ads.

Example: Novara. Others may be getting the same message. Buy Google ads. My hunch is that Google ad sales professionals and affiliates are delighted with the New York Times’ story because it is a compelling case for locking down a Google pointer.

Stephen E Arnold, November 1, 2021

Can Waze Foreshadow AI Innovations at Google?

November 1, 2021

Yep. The article “Waze CEO Admits That Its Algorithm Is Sending Users Awry” triggered a thought on this cloudy and cold Monday morning: What other misdirections are Google smart software delivering. Confidence in one’s smart engineering is one thing; marketing is another.

The write up states:

According to media reports out of Israel where Waze was founded, the navigation app has been giving travelers incorrect directions and has accidentally sent some of its 1 million Israeli users directly into the heart of a traffic jam.

Didn’t Waymo send its smart cars to a dead end street in San Francisco? (See Dead-End SF Street Plagued with Confused Waymo Cars Trying to Turn Around Every 5 Minutes.”

The Phonearena article I read reported:

Waze CEO Guy Berkowitz admitted that “We have a problem with the algorithm. The more people we serve, the more it’s affected. The coronavirus has put us in a situation where we have to reinvent our algorithm.”

But I thought Snorkel type innovations allowed fast learning and other “almost smarter than a temp worker” type adaptations?

Nope. I learned:

A change in traffic patterns in Israel has screwed up Waze’s algorithm leading to incorrect directions.

The article suggests that the issue is Israel specific. Nice assertion, but I don’t believe it. Fancy Dan systems can drift. Let’s hope those “smart decisions” don’t demonstrate the flawed design of the snorkels needed when a Waymo drives off the Bay bridge into the chilly water.

Stephen E Arnold, November 1, 2021

Australia May Have a Good Idea

October 29, 2021

The Five Eyes may not be the same old friendly group. Nevertheless, each of the entities involved pay attention to what others do. Australia has taken a step which may give regulators in other group members’ countries a nifty new idea: Force Google to allow an Android user to install a different search system.

There you go. The ecosystem, not to mention, the Google ad game, would get a kick in the shin. “Australia Also Wants Google to Unbundle Search from Android” reports:

the ACCC wants Google to show a “choice screen” to Android users, allowing them to pick a default search engine other than Google Search. The commission also wants to limit Google’s ability to pay Apple and other vendors or platforms to be their default search engine.

Several observations:

  • Chopping off data pumping components would be similar to slitting a vein, maybe not fatal but certainly a disruptor
  • Other countries may find this approach one which sidesteps some of the yip yap served up in regulatory hearings
  • Google will  push back and the protestations will reveal exactly how quasi perpetual motion money machine works.

Google wants to be the Internet. Australia’s AMPing up of harsh requirements like losing a body part won’t be fatal. But if the search play works, what about other Google services. Gmail anyone?

Stephen E Arnold, October 29, 2021

Learning about Advertising Executives: A Google Lesson

October 27, 2021

I spotted a story about Google’s systems and methods for capturing advertising revenue. “Ad Execs Dismayed, But Not Surprised by Tactics Google Allegedly Used to Control Digital Ad Dollars.” The information about Google was not particularly interesting. The company has been operating in ways which make it difficult for those who just love free services and the Googley glitz to discern what’s shakin’ in the management meetings.

The write up states one point which I found intriguing:

Trade bodies are quiet while industry insiders shrug as if to say “what did you expect.” They’ve long accepted the harsh truths of online advertising in the platform era.

Notice the words “insiders,” “shrug,” “harsh truths,” and “platform.”

I interpreted these two sentences to suggest ad execs know the game is rigged. Why, pray tell? Commissions, the value of being Google certified, and getting the insider scoop on opportunities to help ad execs’ customers sell their products (at least one hopes something besides ad inventory sells).

This article adds little to the Google ad lore, but it says quite a bit about the brokers or facilitators of ad sales.

Commissions, consulting fees, and the lure of search engine optimization runways to for fee Google ads — yep, the ad execs are in the game.

Perhaps the hot topic of ad fraud will be discussed? Perhaps not?

Stephen E Arnold, October 27, 2021

Google Does Waymo Than Online Advertising

October 22, 2021

If Google Waymo smart vehicles are confused, are other components of Google’s smart software system off track as well? That’s a good question, and it is one that those fond of snorkeling may have to do a deep dive to answer.

Confused Waymo Robotaxis Keep Flooding Dead-End Street in San Francisco” reports:

Residents of an otherwise quiet neighborhood in San Francisco have been dealing lately with a very weird affliction: the constant buzzing of several Waymo vehicles crowding a dead-end street. The self-driving taxis are flooding the end of 15th Avenue, appearing rather “confused” as they enter the area ….

San Francisco is an interesting city in which to drive. I am easily confused and when I commuted from Berkeley to San Mateo in Plastic Fantastic County, I would end up in some fascinating places. The Cow Palace parking lot was memorable after a bit of congestion on the 101 forced people like me to seek an option.

The write up points out:

What we know for sure is that Waymo has been trialing its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco since 2008. But as we’ve seen other instances of Alphabet’s robotaxis freaking out, the situation begs the question, what’s going on?

Yep, beta testing, trying to minimize crashing into things, and giving those safety drivers something to enter into their Waymo app.

How long has the Google been wrestling with smart software for smart vehicles? Not long enough maybe?

Stephen E Arnold, October 22, 2021

What Can Slow Down the GOOG? Lawyers Reviewing AI Research Papers

October 21, 2021

I spotted an allegedly true factoid in “Google’s AI Researchers Say Their Output Is Being Slowed by Lawyers after a String of High Level Exits : Getting Published Really Is a Nightmare Right Now.” Here is the paywalled item:

According to Google’s own online records, the company published 925 pieces of AI research in 2019, and a further 962 in 2020. But the company looks to have experienced a moderate slowdown this
year, publishing just 618 research papers in all of 2021 thus far. 

Quite a decrease, particularly in the rarified atmosphere of the smartest people in the world who want to be in a position to train, test, deploy, and benefit from their smart software.

With management and legal cooks in the Google AI kitchen, the production of AI delicacies seems to be going down. Bad for careers? Good for lawyers? Yes and yes.

Is this a surprise? It depends on whom one asks.

At a time when there is chatter that VCs want to pump money into smart software and when some high profile individuals suggest China is the leader in artificial intelligence, the Google downturn in this facet of research is not good news for the GOOG.

Is there a fix? Sure, but none is going to include turning back the hands of time to undo what I call the Battle of Timnit. The decision to try and swizzle around the issue of baked in algorithmic bias appears to have blocked some Google researchers’ snorkels. Deep dives without free flowing research oxygen can be debilitating.

Stephen E Arnold, October 21, 2021

Google Launches Even More Personalized Search Upgrade

October 21, 2021

Google is already the most used search engine on the planet and delivers fairly accurate results. Like many companies, Google continues to push innovation and The National News shares the latest search upgrade in: “Google To Introduce Search 1,000 Times More Powerful Than Current Engine.” Google’s new search technology leverages AI that combines search criteria for more personalized and accurate results.

Google revealed its latest search achievement at the Search On ’21 event, where executives discussed how they plan to use their AI research to stop the spread of misinformation and make information on the Web more useful. Google also wants to regain shopping traffic from Amazon, Alibaba, Lazada, and other commerce Web sites. The new search technology aims to improve the shopping search experience:

“Google teased the MUM technology during its annual I/O summit last May. It uses its so-called T5 – Text-To-Text Transfer Transformer – framework and is said to be 1,000 times more powerful than the Bert (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) technology the company currently uses.

The revamped search technology, using the company’s image-recognition tool Google Lens, will combine data from text, images and even videos, which would then provide more accurate and tailor-made results. Lens has been updated with new AI-powered language features that will narrow searches further. ‘For example, when you search for ‘cropped jackets’, we’ll show you a visual feed of jackets in various colors and styles, alongside other helpful information like local shops, style guides and videos,’ Bill Ready, president of commerce, payments and next billion users at Google, said.”

Google will also include a “wildfire layer” on its Maps to keep track of forest fires in real time. To combat misinformation, search results will include an “About This Result”option that cites the result’s sources and what others users think of it.

Google designed a picture search engine for shopping and is actually citing sources for search results? Yes, please!

Whitney Grace, October 20, 2021

Mapping the Earth: A Big Game?

October 20, 2021

I read “Was Google Earth Stolen?” I have not thought about making a map of the earth game-like for many years. I read the article by Avi Bar-Zeev, one of the individuals close to the Keyhole approach. Interesting stuff.

I want to underscore the fact that Microsoft was noodling around in this geographic earth space as well. There is a short item on the Microsoft Web site called “The Microsoft TerraServer.” The write up states:

The Microsoft TerraServer stores aerial and satellite images of the earth in a SQL Server Database served to the public via the Internet. It is the world’s largest atlas, combining five terabytes of image data from the United States Geodetic Survey, Sovinformsputnik, and Encarta Virtual Globe™. Internet browsers provide intuitive spatial and gazetteer interfaces to the data. The TerraServer demonstrates the scalability of Microsoft’s Windows NT Server and SQL Server running on Compaq AlphaServer 8400 and StorageWorks™ hardware. The TerraServer is also an E-Commerce application. Users can buy the right to use the imagery using Microsoft Site Servers managed by the USGS and Aerial Images. This paper describes the TerraServer’s design and implementation.

The link to download the 23 year old Microsoft document is still valid, believe it or not!

Other outfits were into fancy maps as well; for example, the US government entity in Bethesda and some of the folks at Boeing.

Is this germane to the Bar-Zeev write up? Nah, probably no one cares. I find stories about technology “origins” quite interesting for what each includes and what each omits. Quite game-like, right?

Stephen E Arnold, October 20, 2021

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