Not only does Google, the world’s preeminent index of information,
tell its users that caramelizing onions takes “about 5 minutes” —
it pulls that information from an article whose entire point was
to tell people exactly the opposite. A block of text from the
Times that I had published as a quote, to illustrate how it was a
lie, had been extracted by the algorithm as the authoritative
truth on the subject.
Just me, or is Google search starting to slip? They’ve got the right destination — the URL they’re pointing to is arguably the definitive article on how long it takes to caramelize onions, and at worst, it is indisputably a very good answer to the question. But by attempting to parse the article and provide the answer right there in an excerpt in the search results, Google’s algorithm chooses a passage that provides a completely wrong answer.
When Google search simply ranked articles, and happily sent you away to read them on their original website, they were nearly perfect. But the more they try to tell you the answer to your questions without leaving Google itself, the more they seem to providing embarrassingly bad answers.
★ Tuesday, 7 March 2017