A Google Executive Just Admitted a Frightening Truth About Its Search Engine. Here it is in 5 Words
Well, this should make a few people think a little more.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
You do it all the time, don't you?
You're at a restaurant, in a bar, on a train or merely prostrate on the sofa when a question comes up.
Your first instinct is to Google it.
You feel sure that you'll find the answer straight away and feel much, much more intelligent within seconds.
But do you ever stop to think that what you see when you Google something may not be, well, true?
Google seems to think you should.
A fascinating CNBC interview with the company's relatively new search liaison, Danny Sullivan, laid bare some of painful myths associated with Googling everything.
Sullivan explained that part of his job is to explain that Google isn't some infallible oracle, but, instead, that its algorithms sometimes dance an ungainly samba.
Indeed, he explained the heart of Google search very simply: "We're not a truth engine."
Yet so many people think it is. So many have abdicated their own sense of judgment in favor of the ease of pressing a few buttons to get the answer.
Google doesn't offer you the truth. It doesn't even claim to offer you the truth.
What, then, is it?
Sullivan explained that one of the bigger debates within the company is how to wean the uncritical, lazy slobs that humans have become into using their brains again.
Naturally, he didn't quite phrase it that way.
"One of the big issues that we're pondering is how to explain that our role is to get you authoritative, good information, but that ultimately people have to process that information themselves," he said.
Of course, Google itself has been criticized for offering information that may be authoritative, but not exactly objective.
Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, for one, has insisted for years that Google biased search results toward its own shopping section.
The European Union fined the vast Valley monolith $2.4 billion over the issue.
Sullivan himself, before he worked for Google, wasn't entirely fond of those results that appear in the bigger boxes at the top of a search.
They're called Featured Snippets. They're not some sort of absolute truth at all.
Indeed, has there ever been a time when we should be more skeptical than now?
Yet, for all Sullivan's attempts at realism, Google's often haughty attitudes have intimated that it really is the trustworthy encyclopedia of the world.
A Google executive just admitted that you can't trust Google's search product as a source of absolute truth.
That's a start.
Please let me, however, offer you a hideous future.
Many at Google believe that the next step in "human" development is to insert a chip into people's brains. That chip will, essentially, be a Google search engine that tells your brain what to say or think.
Just ask Google's director of engineering Ray Kurzweil, who can't wait to be a human-robot hybrid and have ready-made jokes being dictated by his chip. According to him, it'll make us "god-like."
But if the chip offers imperfect results, won't we come across as just the same size fools we are now?