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Monday, 14 January 2019 10:11

Google's AI is more artificial than intelligence

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Google's AI is more artificial than intelligence Pixabay

Google's much-vaunted artificial intelligence has been shown up as flaky again, judging by the fact that it recently flagged an article in iTWire for what it said was a violation of its AdSense policy and then quickly backtracked.

The email from the world's biggest search engine added that it was discontinuing serving ads to the article in question.

The story was one that dealt with the massive traffic generated by the world's biggest porn site, Pornhub. Surely, the word porn is not an objectionable one?

The notice said, in part, "New violations were detected [in the last 24 hours]. As a result, ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the AdSense Programme Policies were found.

"To resolve the issues, you can either remove the violating content and request a review, or remove the ad code from the violating pages."

When the company was contacted and asked what had caused its moral compass to be offended, a representative replied and said it had been a mistake.

"I asked the team to look into this and they said the content was flagged incorrectly. I’m sorry about this confusion," the person in question said.

This is the third case in the last few years when Google has sent these notices to iTWire. The last time it happened was in August 2018 and involved a story about the passing of a bill in Parliament to help prevent the phenomenon of revenge porn.

And in July 2016, Google got all fired up about an iTWire  article detailing the saga of an online adult shop that was using mobile technology.

What makes the Google errors even more ludicrous is the fact that in 2017, iTWire disabled Google ads on the site altogether. How can one commit "violations" of a policy to which one is not signed up?

In other words, Google is blacklisting an article from a publisher who is not using one of its services, for violation of the terms governing that very service!

The other side to this yarn which affects anyone using AdSense is that the only way to address a real violation of the policy is through a website. No humans involved.

My query about the Pornhub article was answered by a human because it came from a journalist.

Given the quality of the technology that Google builds — its AI is a good example — who's to say whether the website for addressing this issue will work at all?


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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