Google learns technology has its limits

A big part of the Google mythology is that you can solve virtually any problem through a combination of clever technology and the use of open standards. The Google reality is a bit more complicated.

A big part of the Google mythology is that you can solve virtually any problem through a combination of clever technology and the use of open standards. The Google reality is a bit more complicated.

During the launch of Google Video at CES, for instance, co-founder Larry Page ranted about the importance of using open standards and making services universally available.

Without blinking, he then launched a product that requires you to download a Google-specific video player and restricts content depending on where you're located.

Google's corporate positioning requires Page to advocate openness, but commercial reality -- and those pesky shareholders -- tends to water down those principles.

The same applies to Google's search technologies.

Automation and clever processing techniques are allegedly central to these but there are clearly limits.

Google's most recent advertisement for local staff -- part of the ongoing hiring binge noted by ZDNet -- seeks an AdWords co-ordinator, whose job is essentially to make sure that ads linked to search terms are appropriate.

Doubtless Google would like to be able to automate this task -- servers are, on the whole, cheaper to run than staff are to pay -- but the reality is that machine intelligence simply isn't up to the task of matching a potentially infinite set of sentences (Google ads) to a defined policy.

That's an example to bear in mind the next time the boss asks why something can't be done using technology.

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