Summary of “The algorithm is innocent”

The company tried to downplay the event in a statement, saying the reason 4chan appeared at the very top of its search results, highlighted with a photo and set aside in a box, was the fault of an algorithm.
In this case, the algorithm weighted “Freshness” too heavily over “Authoritativeness.” There were not many results for the name, and therefore the algorithm lowered its standards for its top stories module, which includes content from both news sites and around the web.
The company behind the app called it “An unfortunate side-effect” of the algorithm and “Not intended behavior.” After ProPublica reported that Facebook allowed advertisers to target “Jew haters,” the New York Times chalked it up to a “Faulty algorithm.” In all three cases – the 4chan Google result, the racist Faceapp filter, and the Jew hater ad targeting – the algorithm was not faulty.
If I were designing an algorithm that was going to scrape the web and highlight stories at the top of Google, I might blacklist some sites to make sure it’s not littered with bullshit.
While algorithms like the ones that govern Google’s search engine have gotten sophisticated and complicated, Google still has full and complete control over them.
Over on Facebook’s “Trending” section, algorithmically compiled stories for the shooting includes an article from a Russian propaganda outlet, Sputnik, incorrectly saying that the FBI had connected the shooter to ISIS. Facebook may not have intended for its algorithm to be surfacing false information from Russian state-owned news outlets, but that doesn’t mean it is the algorithm’s fault.
When these curated answers are wrong, Google often points to low search volume, which means too little data for the algorithm to come up with a good result.
It’s not about what the algorithm was supposed to do, except that it went off and did a bad thing instead. Google’s business lives and dies by these things we call algorithms; getting this stuff right is its one job.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Pixel’s missing headphone jack proves Apple was right”

Google Pixel sound output is so bad that removing the headphone jack would be an act of mercy.
Looking at how other mobile makers like HTC, Motorola, Xiaomi, and Google – and soon probably Huawei too, given that CEO Richard Yu told me in January that the company was planning a 2017 flagship phone without a 3.5mm jack, which is shaping up to be the upcoming Mate 10 Pro – are following suit, things are panning out exactly as Apple anticipated.
Google initially mocked Apple’s decision, poking fun at it with marketing materials that described the 2016 Pixel’s headphone jack as “Satisfyingly not new.” But companies take cheap shots at one another all the time, and that was then, this is now, and now Google thinks it has higher priorities than audio.
If we’re just talking about the near term, I’m unconvinced by Apple and Google’s arguments that the jack had to go to make room for better, more integrated design.
If Google were one of the top two smartphone makers in the world, as Apple is, I might also feel like it’s rushing in too quickly with a change it could probably make and justify better in future models.
In the wake of the Pixel 2 event, I got word from Libratone and AIAIAI, a couple of Danish consumer audio brands, both annoucing that they’ve developed “Made for Google” models of their headphones and cables.
Libratone and AIAIAI are just two of 25 partners that Google has already signed up as it seeks to emulate Apple and its famous “Made for iPhone” label.
Google’s Nexus line served as the prototypical best Android device that Google could envision.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google’s Search for the Sweet Spot – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

Given that Google is the second most valuable company in the world, it is quite clear the company has found a sweet spot of its own.
Company: Google is built around the idea that superior technology is all that matters; that was certainly the case with search, which brilliantly leveraged the connectivity inherent to the web to make itself better; unlike its competitors, the bigger the web became, the better Google itself became.
Market: The truth is that the best technology does not always win; what made Google search the dominant force that it was and remains was the openness of the web.
Last year, after the company’s first ‘Made By Google’ event, I framed the company’s hardware efforts in the context of the search business model.
Secondly Google has a business-model problem: the “I’m Feeling Lucky Button” guaranteed that the search in question would not make Google any money.
If a user doesn’t have to choose from search results, said user also doesn’t have the opportunity to click an ad, thus choosing the winner of the competition Google created between its advertisers for user attention.
Google has adopted Alan Kay’s maxim that “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.” To that end the company introduced multiple hardware devices, including a new phone, the previously-announced Google Home device, new Chromecasts, and a new VR headset.
So how does Google fare? Start with value chains: I actually found the breadth of Google products to be impressive, both proof that my suspicions about hardware being the best way to monetize Google software was correct, and evidence of a real commitment on Google’s part to realizing that opportunity.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia”

Facebook’s “Like” feature was, Rosenstein says, “Wildly” successful: engagement soared as people enjoyed the short-term boost they got from giving or receiving social affirmation, while Facebook harvested valuable data about the preferences of users that could be sold to advertisers.
Harris, who has been branded “The closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience”, insists that billions of people have little choice over whether they use these now ubiquitous technologies, and are largely unaware of the invisible ways in which a small number of people in Silicon Valley are shaping their lives.
A graduate of Stanford University, Harris studied under BJ Fogg, a behavioural psychologist revered in tech circles for mastering the ways technological design can be used to persuade people.
“A handful of people, working at a handful of technology companies, through their choices will steer what a billion people are thinking today,” he said at a recent TED talk in Vancouver.
Tech companies can exploit such vulnerabilities to keep people hooked; manipulating, for example, when people receive “Likes” for their posts, ensuring they arrive when an individual is likely to feel vulnerable, or in need of approval, or maybe just bored.
A friend at Facebook told Harris that designers initially decided the notification icon, which alerts people to new activity such as “Friend requests” or “Likes”, should be blue.
He identifies the advent of the smartphone as a turning point, raising the stakes in an arms race for people’s attention.
“The people who run Facebook and Google are good people, whose well-intentioned strategies have led to horrific unintended consequences,” he says.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Sundar Pichai says the future of Google is AI. But can he fix the algorithm?”

Unbeknownst to me, at the very moment on Monday morning when I was asking Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the biggest ethical concern for AI today, Google’s algorithms were promoting misinformation about the Las Vegas shooting.
When the subject isn’t the failure of its news algorithms, Pichai is enthusiastic about AI. There’s not much difference between an enthusiastic Sundar Pichai and a quiet, thoughtful Sundar Pichai, but you get a sense of it when he names a half-dozen Google products that have been improved by its deep learning systems off the top of his head. Google’s lead in doing clever, innovative things with AI is impressive, and the examples Pichai cites can sometimes even verge on inspiring – but there’s clearly still work to do.
Clips is the kind of thing Pichai wants Google to do more of.
For Google, making hardware is about selling products, but it’s also about learning how hardware can better integrate AI. “It’s really tough to drive the future of computing forward if you’re not able to think about these things together,” Pichai says.
“You see very little of that today. My favorite [example] is I open Google Fit [every day] to a certain view, and I navigate to a different view.” One wonders why he doesn’t just wander over to the Google Fit team and ask them to change it.
The reality is that most people associate Android with Google, and so Google has a responsibility for it.
Pichai does believe that Google “Can use Android thoughtfully to help get the right things to happen.” One of those things is improving privacy for the 2 billion-plus people who use it monthly.
During our conversation about getting things right in search, I press Pichai on the fact that Google is beginning to offer feeds of content in the Google app.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google turns 19: Here are 19 random facts about the search engine giant”

Naturally, the search engine giant is celebrating in the most Google-y way possible – by releasing a special Google Doodle.
Users can spin a wheel to open one of 19 surprises Google has launched over the years.
Google leads the world in digital and mobile ad revenue.
Google owns domains of common misspellings of its name, like Gooogle.com, Gogle.com, Googlr.com and more.
Google also owns 466453.com, which are the corresponding numbers that spell out Google on a phone’s keypad. 6.
In October 2016, statistics showed that Google owned 90.3 percent of the world market share of search engines; as of July 2017, Google owns 86.8 percent.
At the Google I/O developer conference in May, Google announced that there are now more than two billion pages using its AMP format, improved caching to speed up mobile page performance, spanning 900,000 domains.
Google started playing elaborate April Fools’ Day jokes on April 1, 2000.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Super-Aggregators and the Russians – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

Mark Warner, the senior Senator from Virginia, is referring to a Russian company, thought to be linked to the Kremlin’s propaganda efforts, having bought $100,000 worth of political ads on Facebook, some number of which directly mentioned 2016 presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Facebook has released limited details about the ads, likely due to its 2012 consent decree with the FTC, which bars the company from unilaterally making private information public, as well as the problematic precedent of releasing information without a clear order compelling said release.
What makes Facebook and Google unique is that not only do they have zero transaction costs when it comes to serving end users, they also have zero transaction costs when it comes to both suppliers and advertisers.
There is still one more thing that separates Facebook and Google from the rest: advertisers.
Rather, the companies that will be hurt are those seeking to knock Google and Facebook off their perch; given that they are not yet super-aggregators, they will not have the feedback loops in place to overcome overly prescriptive regulation such that they can seriously challenge Google and Facebook.
The reality is that given that Google and Facebook make most of their money on their own sites, they will be hurt far less than competitive ad networks that work across multiple sites; that means that even more digital advertising money – which will continue to grow, regardless of regulation – will flow to Google and Facebook.
To be sure, that doesn’t mean regulation isn’t appropriate – it should be far more obvious to everyone that Russians were purchasing election-related ads on Facebook – but rather that it be expressly designed to limit the worst abuses and enable meaningful competitors, even if they accept payment in Russian Rubles.
For what it’s worth, Stratechery has never actually taken out a Facebook ad, or any ad for that matter [↩]Yes, I’m writing about Aggregation Theory again; I explain why I do so often here [↩]Presuming his tweet was not as cynical as it very well might have been [↩].

The orginal article.

Summary of “How disreputable rehabs game Google to profit off patients”

Having started out looking for help with her alcoholism, she ended up getting a lesson on the complex, opaque web of treatment centers and marketing operations that use the internet and high-pressure telemarketing techniques to profit off a booming market: addicts in America.
One of Aid in Recovery’s AdWords listings, which I saw on Google in the middle of August when searching for “Treatment center South Florida,” is titled “Addiction Treatment Center – No Medicaid. No Medicare.” When I repeated the search, their listing was titled “Addiction Treatment Center -.” A few days later, I tried “Texas rehab” and got an Aid in Recovery listing titled “Luxury Drug/Alc Rehab Centers. -‎.” All three list different 800 numbers.
In May, a Google “Digital ambassador” was a featured speaker at the Treatment Center Executive & Marketing Retreat, a networking getaway for C-suiters and financiers of addiction treatment businesses.
Patients became gold mines More and more halfway houses and treatment centers opened, flooding the market with businesses relying in large part on trickle-down pee money.
“I could have made millions – multimillions – off the calls I generated for the treatment industry playing the same game as anyone else, but I made pennies on the dollar sticking to raw calls,” he told me wryly.
“Over time, we have developed a full service offering of medical detoxification services, residential treatment, outpatient services, after care services and limited toxicology services. Because we currently offer full treatment offerings and as state laws and regulations have evolved, we now disclose on our AIR website, and in our calls with patients, that AIR is affiliated with our treatment facilities.”
Since the marketing bill passed, Aid in Recovery has toned down the aggressiveness of their website copy some, changing their “In-state versus out of state” page to remove both a statement about how a local treatment center can’t prevent gossip or “People seeing who enters and leaves the facility,” and the incorrect claim that “It has been proven that the success rate is higher when one receives their treatment from rehab out of state.”
Treatment Management Company told me no patients have ever been paid to go to one of their rehabs.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google is losing allies across the political spectrum”

Republicans are still largely committed to a hands-off approach to economic regulation, Democrats are out of power, and Google still has plenty of allies in the Democratic Party.
The combination of Bernie Sanders-style populism on the left and Donald Trump-style populism on the right could lead to a future where Google faces hostility from policymakers across parties.
Conservative skepticism of Google goes back to the early years of the Obama administration.
Vaidhyanathan is generally a Google critic, but he found himself in the unusual position of defending Google against unfounded conspiracy theories.
Damore wrote a controversial memo suggesting that Google’s gender gap might be explained by women having less interest in or aptitude for software engineering, and the former employee argued that Google was becoming an “Ideological echo chamber” where right-of-center views weren’t welcome.
When Google terminated Damore, many conservatives argued that Google proved Damore’s point.
Conservative critics believed that Damore’s arguments should have been taken seriously within Google and that Google was essentially signalling that conservative viewpoints were not welcome at Mountain View.
While few conservatives have sympathy for Nazis, conservatives worry that similar reasoning could lead to censorship by Google and other technology giants of more mainstream speech.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google’s Secret Formula for Management? Doing the Basics Well”

It’s part of the reason you can’t just copy another company’s management practices and simply sit back and wait for success.
Companies still have to do the hard work of addressing the essential ways their management practices function.
My coauthors and I explore this in detail as part of a study of how well 12,000 firms in 34 countries performed 18 core management practices.
It’s part of the reason why you can’t just copy another company’s management practices and simply sit back and wait for success.
Management practices have a similar flavor – you need a whole set of practices, and standards around those practices, to be in place for them to be effective.
The second reason Google might choose to release these practices exists in some tension with the first: When really implemented, even simple management practices can have a huge payoff.
As Google CEO Sundar Pichai said: “I also value teamwork quite a bit and I think it’s really important to build organisations where people really want to work together. Everything comes out of that. So, setting up collaborative cultures is another big thing I’ve been trying to focus on.” Management practices are an essential ingredient in building culture.
Third, and finally, Google might also choose to release its management tools because doing so could help macroeconomic growth.

The orginal article.