“The algorithm made us do it”: Google chief forced to defend search algorithm, as ‘idiot’ search brings up images of Donald Trump
Tuesday, December 18, 2018/
Google chief executive officer Sundar Pichai has appeared in front of US Congress, to explain why images of US President Donald Trump come up if you search the word ‘idiot’.
According to a Business Insider report, the move follows accusations of bias against conservative media and websites.
In a video shared on the Twitter page of C-SPAN, the network broadcasting the proceedings of the US government, Republican Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is seen asking Pichai about “manipulation of search results”, saying it’s “important to talk about how search works”.
“Right now, if you Google the word ‘idiot’, under images, a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that,” the Congresswoman explained.
“How would that happen?” she asked.
.@RepZoeLofgren asks @Google CEO @SundarPichai: “Right now, if you google the word ‘idiot’ under images a picture of Donald Trump comes up. I just did that. How would that happen?” pic.twitter.com/4BBSeghssm
— CSPAN (@cspan) December 11, 2018
Pichai defended the search engine giant, spelling out how its algorithms work.
“Any time you type in a keyword, we as Google, we have gone out and crawled and stored copies of billions of webpages in our index,” he said.
He went on to explain Google matches the keywords against webpages and ranks them based on more than 200 signals, including relevance, freshness and popularity.
“Then we evaluate them with external raters to make sure, and they evaluate it to objective guidelines, and that’s how we make sure the process is working,” he said.
Pichai also pointed out that more than three trillion searches were made on Google last year, and out of all searches, 15% are brand new, never searched before.
“So this is working at scale,” he said.
“We don’t manually intervene on any particular search result.”
However, not everyone was convinced.
According to Business Insider, Steve Chabot, a Republican from Ohio, noted he had to go three or four pages into Google’s search results to find positive coverage of last year’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“I know Google’s attitude — ‘the algorithm made us do it’ — but I don’t know that I buy that,” Chabot said.
From the frontlines
Five critical questions: Are you listing your startup too soon? Lisa Schutz Verifier founder
Ignoring your ‘obnoxious roommate’: What this founder learnt when she met Arianna Huffington Michelle Gallaher ShareRoot CEO
Sex appeal, runways and mature markets: Everything Guy Pearson learnt during his $26 million Series B raise Guy Pearson Practice Ignition CEO
Barriers from the outset: Why the government’s Boosting Female Founders Initiative is unlikely to succeed Laura Keily Immediation founder