If you see an error in a Knowledge Panel (the box on the right-hand side), look for the "Feedback / More info" link at the bottom of the box and then you can click next to a fact to report a problem. People do review those reports, and that's the fastest way to report an issue.
So it was a manual fix that corrected the issue? I guess that makes since given that her Wikipedia entry didn't have the standardized birthdate listing (at least in the first line) until today (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Amy_Wilentz&ol...). Would that fix alone been enough to fix her snippet?
As Amy noted in her piece: "My Wikipedia entry, oddly, was put up by Cousin Joel, who has a genealogy obsession .... Joel began the entry with my connection to my father, and immediately mentioned my father’s birthdate and the date of his death."
This isn't a real-time complaint.
This is what happens when the world is ruled by a robot
I take it OP hasn't had the delightful pleasure of dealing with old-fashioned human bureaucracy. My uncle tells some great stories about his time in East Berlin, before the Wall fell.
A great example is the post office that did some renovations, and so delivered the old copper and other materials for reutilization. From then on, the System cleverly decided the yearly productivity goals should include delivering the same amount of copper, each year.
The post office master had to figure out how to deliver the copper for a couple of years, in order to avoid failure in meeting the obviously correct goals, until he finally
managed to change them.
So, yeah, at least Google's algorithms have the excuse of not being sentient.
It came to me that the vast majority of modern society is completely independent of the actual people executing it. There are very few jobs that could not be done just as well by another person with the same training.
Most jobs are like coded modules. They have well-defined inputs and outputs - even creative jobs can be defined in terms of "create something people will pay for".
The system is what runs the world, not the individual people who carry it out.
You can read policy. It may not be accurate.
All kinds of automated data collection such as this will have errors that need to be fixed manually by a human. This will be taken care of if/when we eventually have real artificial intelligence. The data parsing scripts Google and others use are fairly advanced, but they still break down to a couple rules and finding words in close proximity. There is no real intelligence involved here.
EDIT: The important takeaway here is to make sure we continue to educate people (especially government) as to the issues and unreliability of these systems. Death date showing up on Google isn't a train smash, but if some government agency decides that Google is smarter than them? Then we are in trouble.
Considering that "non-artificial intelligence" makes the same kind of mistakes, I find that an odd claim.
Mistakes happen. Quite frankly far fewer of them happen in the modern world, due precisely to technology like this. What has changed is actually the converse: automation has become so good that we expect it to be flawless. No one would have found it "surprising" (annoying, sure, unless it was in the context of a zazy madcap comedy film) in 1962 to be mixed up with someone else's biography based on a name confusion.
FTA, I don't believe the data was taken from a bio box:
> So it’s not too surprising that my original Wikipedia entry, as conceived by Joel, was — let’s be honest — more about my father (a famous New Jersey judge) than about me. Joel began the entry with my connection to my father, and immediately mentioned my father’s birthdate and the date of his death.
That's the scary part, as she alludes to in the next paragraph:
> If your name on Wikipedia is followed by a birth and death date, apparently those belong to you from that day forward, no matter whose dates they may be.
Seems like just an oddmatch caused by an overzealous relative that happened due to the incredibly large amount of data Google processes.
I think you meant to bet that the simple solution is almost always the correct way to parse the Wikipedia article, but that's not actually what you bet. What you really bet was P(correct_parse) * P(correct_data) + (1 -P(correct_parse) ) * P(wrong_parse_accidentally_giving_correct_data) > 0.9999
A 0.01% error rate is incredibly incredibly accurate. I imagine the error rate of birthdays in Wikipedia bio boxes is higher than 0.0001. Note that, for instance, Wikipedia had a wrong birthday for Jimmy Wales. http://blog.oregonlive.com/siliconforest/2007/07/on_wikipedi...
I _might_ believe that name followed by birth date and death date are the birth and death dates is the correct parsing of the Wikipedia data over 99.99% of the time. However, I doubt your proposed bet would pay off.
Since it is not opt-in (nor is it opt-out), YOU have no control of it. As the author stated, she requested many times, over several months, to have it reviewed and it wasn't until she clamored about it publicly that it was addressed. What if Google never did correct it?
It is a very hard one as the vast majority of the time the text features observed would indicate a date of birth/ death. I guess if the date is not in the metadata/ sidebar on Wikipedia they could flag it and hopefully find another source to correlate with.
Perhaps another case of Google ignoring you until you get a bit of publicity, or just them finally catching up.
> But one problem was so glaring that the team wasn’t comfortable releasing Froogle: when the query “running shoes” was typed in, the top result was a garden gnome sculpture that happened to be wearing sneakers. Every day engineers would try to tweak the algorithm so that it would be able to distinguish between lawn art and footwear, but the gnome kept its top position.
> One day, seemingly miraculously, the gnome disappeared from the results. At a meeting, no one on the team claimed credit. Then an engineer arrived late, holding an elf with running shoes. He had bought the one-of-a kind product from the vendor, and since it was no longer for sale, it was no longer in the index. “The algorithm was now returning the right results,” says a Google engineer. “We didn’t cheat, we didn’t change anything, and we launched.”
Machines screw up, but humans screw up too, and sometimes getting the problem fixed in a bureaucracy takes even more effort. I don't think bureaucracies "refresh" their policies/procedures (algorithms) or data as fast as software companies do.
In fact, on a mobile device she's the only photo. Yes!
Are these generated algorithmically? Some amount of manual curation? Or what?
Of course it is humbling to discover that my dog is much more famous than I am...
P.S. She's a cute dog!
Yes, it must be the Wikipedia article. (Of course I'm the one who put her there.)
It was interesting to note that the aspect ratio of her photo fits the tall photo space in the knowledge box better that most dog photos which tend to be more horizontal.
... except that you can't cite the subject's own blog as a reliable source-particularly when they apparently wrote it post-mortem.
>An error in a Google search “factbox” can only be corrected when Google re-indexes (whatever that means) the information that will update the search. Depending on the size of your website, re-indexing takes either a couple of days, or several months. Like good guys, small websites finish last. Note: my website is small.
I think she misunderstands here. If the data is scraped from wikipedia, it really has nothing to do with her site, right?
Her contributions are here:
Loved this. Amusing reminder of the fact that most people do not speak our language. :)
"I’m reading Kafka’s Castle right now — which itself may kill me"
Kafka is one of my favorite authors and The Castle is one of my favorite novels :( But a well-written essay nonetheless ;)
It seems to me that people are comfortable not computer technology and indignant when they are forced to be aware of the details. I doubt, for instance, you would ever see this sentence:
"It all comes down to the car's engine (a word I use carelessly, and frequently, but whose meaning is obscure to me, though I feel it is probably part of the car)..."
It would be silly, on its face, to display ignorance of such a common part of the vehicle(s) that you use to get around. However, it's seen as normal to be totally disinterested in the inner workings of computers (despite their ubiquity). I'm sure this was true for cars and other pieces of technology at some point, but I don't know how long ago that was. I also don't know what caused it to change.
I feel like, if people were a little more aware of what happens "under the hood" of computing products, they would be more interested in the areas of concern for the tech community (what does company X do with my information? How well is my data protected? What limitations are built into this device?).
We have all been subjected to our public persona in high school or in our home town. It is not accurate. Sometimes, it is the complete opposite of the truth.
So, I don't know why this author thinks it should be different with Google. Google gets a lot of things right, it gets a lot of things wrong as well. I don't worry about what a search engine says about me.
I know what I am. I am not what Google says and I am not what my high school yearbook says either.
I suspect there might be some liability issues about incorrect information online, perhaps as a result of other cases with more dire consequences than simply not getting a job.
Freebase, owned by Google, is part of its structured data efforts but few people remember this :)
Contributing structured data is awesome!
(former Metaweb/Freebase employee, current Googler)
That's our real world object relation databases status, unfortunately.
The author talks about something (google indexing) she admits she doesn't understand.
She doesn't understand that by editing her Wikipedia article, the google crawler would update her infobox data pretty quickly.
Her birth data was added to the wikipedia entry today and the google infobox is fixed. It took less than 2 hours. Not something worth whining about.
This arrogant and dismissive response highlights the problem even better than her mild and humorous complaint (which, for the record, I didn't see as whining).
Perhaps she did understand that editing her Wikipedia page would correct the problem but also understood that Wikipedia's policies frown on editing one's own page, even to correct factual errors such as birth and death dates. Or perhaps she was entirely ignorant that she could even edit Wikipedia. Or perhaps she knew but didn't care and only wanted to write a humorous and potentially thought-provoking blog post.
Why are you so quick to defend an algorithm which produced a wrong answer and detract a reasonable and intelligent human being?
I don't see how the error detracted her in any way, and, as I highlighted it, it was a quick 2-minute fix.
I also don't think the Google algorithm is to blame. If her Wikipedia entry had followed the style guidelines ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Biogr... ), her birth date would have been parsed correctly.
For the record, I didn't find her post funny or even particularly well-written.
I guess if there's something that can be taken from this article it's "Program or be Programmed". The author didn't understand the inner workings of the Google Factbox data, so she assumed computers control her identity and her online information. However, with a little more computer knowledge, you can figure out how to control this data yourself.
Humans control the computers; it's not the other way around.
The Google algorithm took the results from the middle of the text, even though the birthdates are always right behind the name. I guess they did something like take the first dates instead of just focusing on the part behind the name. This way the algorithm was more flexible but on the other hand as we see more likely to make mistakes.
Indeed, Wikipedia editors have informed notable people that they are not authoritative sources for information about themselves and should not correct mistakes on the site about their own lives.
I might complain to my mechanic that it won't start. To him, diagnosing a bad spark plug and swapping in a new one is a simple matter of five minutes, but to me it might as well be heart surgery. That doesn't mean I was wrong to complain.
She knew something was wrong, but admittedly didn't understand all the details. She complained to bring it to the internet's attention, after which it was swiftly fixed. This doesn't mean she's done anything foolish or wrong - she was simply pointing out a problem.
And she is raising an important point, and one that keeps recurring with Google: what do you do when their automated processes are not enough?
She should not have to edit Wikipedia to resolve this situation. That is not a reasonable expectation of anyone.
In fact, she chose the only solution that usually gets through to Google: blog/tweet about something and get enough exposure.
She has no idea how to tell Google to stop saying to the world she is dead. There are "this is wrong" buttons that she clicks that don't do anything, apparently.
This is actually the point of her article. She doesn’t know how to fix the problem and Google (the robot) isn't providing tools to fix it.
Yes, you and I know that if she goes to a high traffic site such as wikipedia, google will scan that very quickly. But that's a hack, albeit a very simple one, but still a hack requiring a lot of knowledge of how Google, and the web, works.
Normal people look at the piece of the world that is wrong. If given the opportunity, they click on that same piece of world (the "infobox" in this case) to fix it. Google doesn't provide an indication in the infobox where they are getting their "facts". Other than talking to people (something not available to everyone), how would a person know what to do to change this?
Second, it was my understanding that editing your own wikipedia entry is not acceptable.
But a good reminder of just how little understanding most people have of The Internet.