Tag: google

Sorry, Chrome is Not a Google Service

I read this interesting perspective from Bálint where he argues that Chrome is a Google Service that happens to include a Browser Engine”. I understand where he is coming from, but I believe the thought process needs to be dealt with and curbed before it gets commonly accepted.

Sure, Google would want to believe that Chrome is just one of their many services — it suits their business model. When they can move their trackers (and eventually ads) right to the tool that people access the internet with, they would know what everyone’s doing on the internet. But Google should not be allowed to get away by dumping the idea down its user’s throat. Sure, normal people may not be able to differentiate how logging in to a service and to Chrome is different. Or how login/session cookies for Google may screw up the security model on a shared computer.

But that exactly is the reason why people who understand better need to voice their disapproval. It is easy to say that it’s not a big deal as I am already better informed to not use Chrome. But it is also reckless — Chrome has already become a de facto browser for mainstream users. It’s a wrong precedent then to let people who cannot fully grasp (or aren’t inclined to out of sheer neglect) the basic underpinnings of the open web to drive what’s acceptable for a browser, and on the web. If that was allowed, Net neutrality would already have been a lost battle worldwide. Such decisions tend to be uninformed and harm the community in the longer run.

An internet service is a different entity, it serves a specific purpose. It solves a specific problem that an end user has. Gmail is an email client. YouTube is a video sharing service. Google Search is… well, it has long since stopped being just a search engine. But, one gets the idea. You access a URL and it brings you to the service.

Chrome is not that. Chrome is a tool that allows users access these different services. And it is better if it stays that way. It’s already bad that all browsers come with an incognito mode by default. It would be important that we do not introduce another mode just to go incognito from the owners of the browsers.

I am sure Bálint will agree and his final thought kind of sums it well.

Part of me feels that this Chrome shared computer issue that Googlers mentioned is real, but it’s also just too convenient to solve this by tieing Chrome closer to Google, you know?

We’re all a mess

Such a refreshing edit this published as part of Sunday Review at The New York Times. The contrast between people’s real lives and ones as perceived by their friends” on social media is so succinctly articulated by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. Especially evident is the side of us exposed to Facebook as against Google (the search engine).

Alone with a screen and anonymous, people tend to tell Google things they don’t reveal to social media; they even tell Google things they don’t tell to anybody else. Google offers digital truth serum. The words we type there are more honest than the pictures we present on Facebook or Instagram.

Sometimes the contrasts in different data sources are amusing. Consider how wives speak about their husbands.

On social media, the top descriptors to complete the phrase My husband is …” are the best,” my best friend,” amazing,” the greatest” and so cute.” On Google, one of the top five ways to complete that phrase is also amazing.” So that checks out. The other four: a jerk,” annoying,” gay” and mean.

I just could not have put this is in a better way. The fakeness of what streams at Facebook has always been at the crux of the platform being disliked by a vocal minority, especially the geeks. It won’t be too much of a stretch for the argument to say if it is not fake, it is not visible on the Facebook timeline.

How does one protect oneself from getting miserable at the hands of this streaming pile of curated noise?

Once you’ve looked at enough aggregate search data, it’s hard to take the curated selves we see on social media too seriously. Or, as I like to sum up what Google data has taught me: We’re all a mess.

Now, you may not be a data scientist. You may not know how to code in R or calculate a confidence interval. But you can still take advantage of big data and digital truth serum to put an end to envy — or at least take some of the bite out of it.

Any time you are feeling down about your life after lurking on Facebook, go to Google and start typing stuff into the search box. Google’s autocomplete will tell you the searches other people are making. Type in I always …” and you may see the suggestion, based on other people’s searches, I always feel tired” or I always have diarrhea.” This can offer a stark contrast to social media, where everybody always” seems to be on a Caribbean vacation.

Yep, the best lifehack I have read in a long long time. Amen.

The humans behind the AI

There is a great edit on Ars Technica about The secret lives of Google raters”. I found the section on how there always are some people, humans, behind all the AI Google, and Facebook, want to harp about. Following passage is a sheer eye-opener.

UCLA Information Studies professor Sarah Roberts has been studying the lives of raters for the past five years, traveling from California to the Philippines to interview workers. She told Ars that one constant in all their stories is that these workers feel isolated from the companies like Google and Facebook, even though most of their work benefits them. Some say that they know they work for Google, but Google doesn’t know they work there.

Roberts believes that big companies like Google want to keep raters hidden, largely because they like to boast about how many tasks they handle with AI. Actually their AIs are people in the Philippines,” she told Ars by phone. Are there algorithms in all these tasks? Sure. Is it 100 percent? Not even close. There’s some kind of profit motive behind these claims [about how] machines and algorithms run the show.”

The plight of these raters is real. For all the advancements in AI and automation, there is always some dirty” work that’s deemed too unimportant, too trivial, to only be pushed down” to humans. The trend is disquieting.