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Google just confirmed that its AI software is not working

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Staff writer ▼ | August 29, 2013
Google engineer Matt Cutts called all users of his search engines to tell him what small website should be doing better on Google. A simple post on Twitter reveals a deep problem for Google: Panda, a form of artificial intelligence, is not working as expected.
Google
GoogleGoogle engineer Matt Cutts called all users of his search engines to tell him what small website should be doing better on Google. A simple post on Twitter reveals a deep problem for Google: Panda, a form of artificial intelligence, is not working as expected.


First, a bit of background. We are calling Panda, a part of the software behind Google search engine, "artificial intelligence" because it is showing typical characteristics of something that is trying to be intelligent.

If you take a look at websites owners' experiences you'll see that Panda is not consistent software. The number and quality of results vary greatly, even from hour to hour, there are good websites buried somewhere deep on Google servers, and there are bad sites at the first page. The biggest websites are always at the top, no matter are they following Google's own advice or not. Furthermore, some websites are considered as the best by Google for virtually all topics, from news to business to entertainment.

Matt CuttsSEO experts achieved some success in recovering website buried by Panda but there is no general understanding how Panda works. Now, we don't know what factors Panda is using when trying to rank a website, we believe there are approximately 2000 signals, because we don't know how that software is written. And that's OK. What's not OK is that lack of consistent result. If you take a look what happened since Panda hit, some time in May, you will see that search results aren't improving after three months.

Panda behaves like a little child: We can tell the child "This newspaper is important," "This second group is not," and "Don't look at the third group at all." However, such form of learning won't lead the child too far if child doesn't know how to make own decision. And that's exactly what is happening with Panda. The algorithm got inputs but it is unable to decide on its own, and to decide properly, which websites deserve to be on page on and which ones doesn't. A simple care of failed AI.

Having all that in mind, we can see that Mr. Cutts call could have very serious consequences. First is number of answers. How many website owners think that their website should be doing better on Google? The answer: All of them. That in turn means that Google can expect millions of "I should do better" or "My friend's website should do better" e-mails. For Google that's a logistic suicide.

Second, ask yourself what does it mean if the giant like Google, a company with thousands of programmers, PhDs and other experts, ask for your help? The answer is again simple: Google messed up big time with the new version of its search software. The changes are probably too big to roll back the software and now the only solution that came to mind was to ask user what Google should do.

One simple post on Twitter revealed that Google is in very deep problems and that, at the moment, it has no idea how to solve them. Mr. Cutts call is just a try to buy some time and, as a side effect, to create a picture of Google as a company that cares about their users. It will be interesting to follow this developing story.


 

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