Google Wants To Fix Its Search Engine’s Misinformation Problem

In 2014, if you were to Google “King of the United States,” you would have seen a picture of Barack Obama, yelling passionately into a microphone while at a podium. That’s not true, of course. But Google proclaimed it with authority after surfacing a Breitbart article entitled, “All Hail King Barack Obama, Emperor Of The United States of America!”

The episode highlights how clumsy Google can be with snippets, search results that the company elevates to the top of the page as a definitive answer to a query. The problem has persisted throughout the years, with Google stating plainly that certain presidents were in the KKK, or that women are evil.

Google on Thursday unveiled a handful of new features aimed at combating these kinds of falsehoods on its search engine, one of the most widely used information tools on the planet. Far from its origins as a simple website that listed 10 links as search results, Google is now a sprawling and cluttered site that highlights news stories, tweets, maps, hotel bookings, and more. As the site has grown — and as misinformation peddlers have become more sophisticated — the search engine has become more vulnerable to spreading lies and wrong information.

“In recent years, the growth of misinformation has become even more of a pressing challenge for us as a society,” Pandu Nayak, a vice president of search at Google, told reporters on Wednesday. “We can only deliver on our mission if we can deliver high quality results.”

Google said it would use its artificial intelligence systems to improve search snippets. The company will use machine learning software, called MUM, or Multitask Unified Model, to check information across multiple reliable sources that agree on the same facts. The process will allow the system to come to a general consensus, Google said, even if the sources don’t phrase the information in the same way.

The company is also expanding its “About this result” feature, originally released last year, to include more context about search results. In addition to seeing a short description of the website or company and when the result was indexed, people will now also see more granular information about the result. For example, it will tell you if a company is owned by another entity.

On the flip side, if Google can’t find much information about a result, it will disclose that as well. The company is also launching “About this result” in more languages, including Spanish, German and Indonesian.

Google is also updating its “content advisories,” which it displays usually during breaking news situations, like a mass shooting or natural disaster, when the situation is developing rapidly and not much information is available. Now, in addition to telling people when information is scarce, it will also warn people when information is available but may be unreliable, based on Google’s ranking system for search results.

The new features underscore the ongoing and escalating battle that tech giants are fighting against purveyors of misinformation. The problem will only become more heightened as the United States turns to midterm elections later this year. Google, along with Facebook and Twitter, has been under fire for years for having its platforms exploited when it comes to conspiracy theories, Covid-19 information and extremism.

None of the updates, however, apply to YouTube, which Google also owns, and has long been a major culprit in the spread of misinformation. “Their problem is a little bit different than ours in search,” Pandu said, noting that YouTube hosts content and uses a personalized feed. “We don’t work on YouTube directly, and YouTube doesn’t work on us directly.”

I’m a Forbes technology reporter and senior writer based in San Francisco. Send me tips at rnieva@forbes.com or richardnieva@protonmail.com.

Source: Google Wants To Fix Its Search Engine’s Misinformation Problem

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How Google’s ‘Hybrid’ Work Model Could Work For Your Business

According to CNBC, “Google is rethinking its long-term work options for employees, as most of them say they don’t want to come back to the office full-time.” According to a recent survey of Google employees, “sixty-two percent want to return to their offices at some point, but not every day”. For this reason, the company is working on “hybrid” models for future work. 

If you’re pondering the same in your organization, don’t be binary in your definition of hybrid.

It’s easy to assume a hybrid is a combination of only two things – a car engine with both internal combustion and electric power sources, plants and animals that are cross breeds of two different species, and golf clubs that combine the characteristics of both a wood and an iron.  But hybrids aren’t necessarily limited to combinations of two. According to Merriem-Webster, it can also mean: “having or produced by a combination of two or more distinct elements” and “of mixed character; composed of mixed parts”.

This is great news, because when it comes to hybrid work models, we’re going to need to think much more broadly than just two modes of work – in the office and at home. In fact, there’s a law from the systems sciences that applies.

Ashby’s Law and Hybrid Work Models Recommended For You

We love Ross Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety, which states: “Only variety can destroy variety.”  We usually apply it to problem-solving, and specifically the need to seek out a variety of solvers to match the variety of the problem they’re trying to solve. In their new book Humanocracy,  Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini apply Ashby’s Law to organizations needing “a relentless pace of experimentation” to protect them “from a relentless pace of change”. 

And now, here’s another important implication of the very same law: Only a variety of work options can satisfy a variety of work preferences. That means leaders must work hard to offer a  variety of work models in order to attract and retain top talent.

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The Pandemic Has Changed Preferences and Habits

Why are there so many work preferences among workers? In short: our habits changed almost overnight. Prior to the pandemic, some companies already offered flexible work options – both work-from-home and work-in-the-office – and others were exploring the possibility. Then, starting in March, if people could work from home, they had to work from home. New habits were formed. Daily commuters got used to not commuting. Office-dwellers got used to staying home. Face-to-face believers (like us) adapted to face-to-screen. And across the board, as Airbnb Advisor Chip Conley put it in our interview with him, “IRL (in real life)” was replaced by “URL (digital)”.

As top management thinker Roger L. Martin explained it to us: “Covid-19 has forced us to break our habits, and where they were habits we hated, we won’t be going back. For example, we won’t go back to commuting to work five days per week.” David Musto, president and CEO of Ascensus, told us that leaders will need to think very differently about ”what coming back to the office looks like, now that people have acquired new habits and a new willingness to engage virtually.” 

BBC’s former head of Corporate Real Estate, Chris Kane, told us that it’s premature to declare the death of the office, explaining that:  “For employers and employees, we’ve been stuck in a very traditional bipolar debate between office and home, whereas there’s lots of choice and it’s not just about physical space. Work is moving from being process work performed in an office, to knowledge work, which can be done in a whole raft of settings.” 

This isn’t the end of the office, merely the end of the days when working at the office is the only option, at least in jobs that allow for it and companies that need to compete for talent.

A Two-Option Hybrid Model Isn’t Flexible Enough

As schools have reopened, some have offered a two-option hybrid education model – parents can choose to send their children to school, or they can choose to keep them at home. Others have offered a rigid two-mode hybrid education model, where students attend school during designated hours in a classroom, and in other designated hours, attend school remotely. While these models simplify things for education systems, the limited variety can’t match the variety of parental or student needs. What if I can’t be home all day to be with my kids and don’t feel safe sending them to school? What if my child can’t learn effectively unless they’re in a classroom under the supervision of a teacher, but they’ve got a pre-existing condition that makes them vulnerable to Covid-19? What if conditions change and we need to switch from one mode to the other? What if there aren’t enough teachers or my child’s teacher gets sick? 

Binary thinking when it comes to in-person vs. virtual creates high-consequence, high-anxiety, and sometimes impossible choices for people, as we’ve seen with schools. In the same way, a two-option model that isn’t flexible won’t work for people who are unable to make either option work, or for those who can easily go work for someone else.  

If a hybrid work model is limited to two elements, most people won’t be able to (or won’t want to) pick one or the other. Some people might be okay commuting, for example, but only in the summer when traffic is lighter. Strict policies around how and where people are allowed to work when they’re not in the office will turn people off, as most strict policies do, but especially now that people have experienced a prolonged period of flexibility. Heavily regimented “collaboration hours”, when everyone on a team is expected to be assembled together in one place, can’t reflect the natural ebbs and flows of teams and their projects. 

To limit choice is to defy the Law of Requisite Variety, and doing so will create a number of consequences – instability, dissatisfaction and resistance – that will ultimately drive some people away to better opportunities and push others out. And when it comes to the continuing struggle for diversity and parity in your organization, those with diverse needs are the most likely to be left out of your variety equation. 

Instead, Apply Ashby’s Law Over and Over Again

The answer lies in embracing the notion of requisite variety in three dimensions:

  • Offer the necessary and sufficient variety of work options to match the variety of work preferences so that you’re balancing the needs of the organization and the needs of its people. 
  • Find that balance by asking your people – a requisite variety of them who genuinely represent everyone in the organization – to participate in co-creating those options.
  • Be relentless about experimenting with those models and keeping people involved in re-evaluating them over time, so that you and they can keep up with the relentless pace of change.

If you’re approaching the development of hybrid work models any other way, you’re at risk of getting it wrong, and at the same time, missing an incredible opportunity to unlock significant latent passion and talent across your organization Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website or some of my other work here

David Benjamin and David Komlos

David Benjamin and David Komlos

We are the CEO and Chief Architect of Syntegrity and co-authors of Cracking Complexity: The Breakthrough Formula for Solving Just About Anything Fast. Global leaders and their teams apply the complexity formula to their top challenges, getting to decisions and action in days instead of months or years. From transformation to taking out cost, digitization to improving access to life-saving products, we have equipped leaders to dramatically accelerate solutions and execution on their defining challenges. We frequently speak on topics related to complexity, fast problem-solving and mobilization, and unleashing organizations’ latent talent to bring about controlled explosions of progress.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company is ”reconfiguring” its offices amid a more permanent shift to working from home. Pichai discussed the future of work at Google during an interview for Time 100 this week. While he doesn’t see working in the office going away altogether, he described the office as a space for ”on-sites” — presumably, days where employees, who mostly work from home, gather in the office.

Pichai also said he made the decision to have employees work from home until next summer in order to boost productivity and give workers a sense of certainty during an uncertain time. Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. Google’s famous offices may look a bit different for employees once it’s safe for them to begin returning to work. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said this week that the company is making changes to its physical spaces to better support employees in the future — a future that Pichai says will include ”hybrid models” of work.”I see the future as definitely being more flexible,” Pichai said during a video interview for Time 100.

Pichai was an honoree on this year’s list of the most influential people in the world.”We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having that sense of community, is super important for whenever you have to solve hard problems, you have to create something new. So we don’t see that changing, so we don’t think the future is just 100% remote or something,” he said. Pichai said that Google is ”reconfiguring” its office spaces to accommodate what he called ”on-sites” — presumably, days where employees, who mostly work from home, gather in the office.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderGoogle was one of the first major tech companies to announce that employees may continue working from home until July 2021. At the time, The Wall Street Journal reported that the decision was made in part to help working parents whose children might be learning partially or totally remotely this school year. Pichai said there were several factors that went into the decision.”Early on as this started, I realized it was going to be a period of tremendous uncertainty, so we wanted to lean in and give certainty where we could,” Pichai said. ”The reason we made the decision to do work from home until mid of next year is we realized people were trying hard to plan … and it was affecting productivity.”

Pichai said making such a long-term decision forced the company to embrace their new reality: that working from home is here to stay, at least in some capacity. And employees seem to agree: a recent internal survey at the company found that 62% employees believe they only need to be in the office ”some days” in order to do their work well, while 20% don’t feel like they need to come to the office at all. Pichai also touched upon a larger issue for those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area: affordability. All data is taken from the source: http://businessinsider.com Article Link: https://www.businessinsider.com/googl…#Google#newsbloopers#newstodaybbc#usanewstoday#newstodayworld#newsworldabc #

Important Google Photos Change Will Impact Millions Of Users

Google Photos users often struggle with Google’s frequent unexpected interface changes, but a new tweak is now rolling out that’s sure to make image sharing much easier for everyone.

The change, as spotted by Reddit users last week, brings in an improved sharing menu that makes it easier to find and select the apps and contacts you want to use to share your photos.

The improvement makes a small, but significant change to how sharing destinations are selected. Thankfully, it’s so intuitive that you may have already been using the new interface without even realizing.

If you have the new interface, sharing an image now presents you with two rows of icons much like before. The top row is for sharing directly to groups or individual contacts and the bottom row is for sharing via any other appropriate apps you have installed. The key change is that selecting an app for sharing no-longer requires scrolling through a potentially very long list of apps to find the one you’re looking for.

Instead, you are presented with a selection of just three recently-used options followed by a new button marked ‘more’. Tapping on ‘more’ then brings up an app drawer which you can swipe upwards to expand it into a vertically-scrolling full screen format.

Google Photos now uses a new app sharing menu

Here you’ll find some favorite sharing destinations at the top, followed by a complete list of compatible apps. Furthermore, the apps are presented here in alphabetically rather than the seemingly random order found in the previous horizontal app selector.

Many users have the new interface already, so if you don’t have it yet you should expect to receive it soon. If you want a reminder of the old sharing interface, try sharing from the Google Maps app which still uses the old horizontal scroller.

Follow @paul_monckton on Instagram

Paul Monckton

Paul Monckton

I’ve been working as a technology journalist since the early nineties. My passion is photography and the ever-changing hardware and software that we use to create it, be it traditional cameras and Photoshop or smartphones and tablets with their numerous apps. I have also worked extensively on computing titles such as PC Magazine and Personal Computer World and managed the PCW hardware testing labs. This has seen me testing and reviewing all manner of technologies in print and on line. I take on both written and photographic assignments and you can get in touch with questions, tips or pitches via email. Find me on Instagram @paul_monckton.

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Google Photos users often struggle with Google’s frequent unexpected interface changes, but a new tweak is now rolling out that’s sure to make image sharing much easier for everyone. The change, as spotted by Reddit users last week, brings in an improved sharing menu that makes it easier to find and select the apps and contacts you want to use to share your photos. The improvement makes a small, but significant change to how sharing destinations are selected. Thankfully, it’s so intuitive that you may have already been using the new interface without even realising.

If you have the new interface, sharing an image now presents you with two rows of icons much like before. The top row is for sharing directly to groups or individual contacts and the bottom row is for sharing via any other appropriate apps you have installed. The key change is that selecting an app for sharing no-longer requires scrolling through a potentially very long list of apps to find the one you’re looking for.

Instead, you are presented with a selection of just three recently-used options followed by a new button marked ‘more’. Tapping on ‘more’ then brings up an app drawer which you can swipe upwards to expand it into a vertically-scrolling full screen format. Here you’ll find some favorite sharing destinations at the top, followed by a complete list of compatible apps. Furthermore, the apps are presented here in alphabetically rather than the seemingly random order found in the previous horizontal app selector.

Many users have the new interface already, so if you don’t have it yet you should expect to receive it soon. If you want a reminder of the old sharing interface, try sharing from the Google Maps app which still uses the old horizontal scroller. Follow @paul_monckton on Instagram All data is taken from the source: http://forbes.com Article Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/paulmonc…#sharing#newsdaily#newsworldabc#bbcnewstoday#newstodaydonaldtrump#newstodayworld #

Google Employees Demand End To Police Contracts In Letter To CEO

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The letter calls out Google’s cloud business, as well as work with police and military through Gradient Ventures, the company’s venture capital arm. Google employees have sent a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai demanding that the search giant stop selling its technology to police forces, a call that comes as people around the world urge for police reform as part of efforts to end systemic racism. As of publication, more than 1,600 Google workers had signed the letter, which was viewed by CNET.

The letter calls out Google’s work with police and military through Gradient Ventures, a venture capital arm of the search giant that was founded in 2017 and focuses on artificial intelligence. The employees also criticize Google’s cloud division for touting its relationship with the Clarkstown Police Department in New York. Using Google’s G Suite productivity apps, the search giant said it’s helped the department save $20,000 to $30,000 on IT licensing costs. Google also said its software “accelerates evidence gathering and processing.”

The call Google to end police contracts comes as the US has been swept by protests following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed in police custody. The killing has spurred calls to defund police departments across the country. “We’re disappointed to know that Google is still selling to police forces, and advertises its connection with police forces as somehow progressive, and seeks more expansive sales rather than severing ties with police and joining the millions who want to defang and defund these institutions,” the letter reads. “Why help the institutions responsible for the knee on George Floyd’s neck to be more effective organizationally?”

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In a statement, Google said it has policies that guide how it deploys artificial intelligence, but said it won’t stop selling its technology to law enforcement. “We have longstanding terms of use for generally available computing platforms like Gmail, GSuite and Google Cloud Platform, and these products will remain available for Governments and local authorities, including police departments, to use,” a spokeswoman said.

This isn’t the first time Google employees have protested against the company’s work with military and law enforcement. Two years ago, workers at the search giant protested Google’s contract with the Pentagon for Project Maven, an initiative that uses artificial intelligence to improve analysis of drone footage. Thousands of workers signed a petition opposing the contract, and a handful of employees resigned in protest.

The letter about police contracts criticizes Google’s business dealings while it publicly supports the Black Lives Matter movement. Google last week announced a $175 million package to support Black business owners, startup founders and developers. Days after Floyd’s killing, Google displayed a black ribbon on its homepage, with the caption: “We stand in support of racial equality, and all those who search for it.” In a tweet announcing the homepage tweak, Pichai said the company stands with the Black community.

“We have a long way to go to address the full legacy of racism but to begin with — we should not be in the business of profiting from racist policing,” Monday’s letter to Pichai says. “We should not be in the business of criminalizing Black existence while we chant Black Lives Matter.”

 

Police are getting warrants to obtain tracking data from Google that locates every device near a crime scene. The system is called Sensorvault within the company, but a Google user might know it as Location Services. The New York Times’ Jennifer Valentino-DeVries reported on how the data can ensnare innocent people, and she joins CBSN with more.

 

 

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