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Apple Gets Siri-ous By Hiring Google’s AI Chief John Giannandrea

apple-gets-siri-ous-by-hiring

Apple has just hired John Giannandrea, one of Google’s top AI executives. Giannandrea,  was previously Google’s Head of AI and Search, The New York Times reports.  According to a statement from Apple, Giannandrea will lead Apple's "machine learning and A.I. strategy," leading many to believe that the company may finally be upping its efforts to improve on Siri.  He will be one of only 16 executives that report directly to Apple's CEO Tim Cook.

Google brought aboard Giannandrea in 2010 after it acquired MetaWeb, where he served as CTO.  MetaWeb had sought to make search results more contextually aware through a large database of its tagged data.

As mentioned above, the acquisition comes at relatively crucial time with Apple's Siri seeming to continually play catch up to Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant products.  Granted, a lot of this is due to Apple's focus on privacy and customer data, but even just getting Siri to hear queries correctly would be a huge start.

TechCrunch spoke with at their recent Disrupt SF conference, where he gave a lengthy interview about how humans could help improve on the smarts of computers, but they could also potentially pick up our own personal biases at the same time.

[embed]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djkeV4gew4Q[/embed]

Okay Google, What Is The Whopper Advertising Mishap?

You have to admit, it was a pretty cunning ad by the fast food giant.  In case you hadn't heard by now, Burger King had unveiled the above ad that was designed to query your Google Home device, which would in turn read a rather lengthy description of the Whopper burger from Wikipedia.

However, the search engine giant was less than amused, and as of about 2:45 PM ET yesterday according to The Verge, Google disabled the functionality, and it will no longer respond when prompted by the specific Burger King commercial that asks "What is the Whopper burger?"  Although it will still respond from Wikipedia with the top result when a real user poses the same question.  Similarly to its own Google Home commercials, more than likely the company was able to disable the audio clip from firing off the unwanted Home query triggers.

You may have noticed that before Google pulled the plug, the Whopper query brought up some rather less than flattering descriptions of the flagship sandwich, deeming it being full of ingredients like "toe nail clippings" and "rat."  Wikipedia admins must have caught wind of this as the entry is now locked and only authorized users can update it.

For now, users will have to "have it their way" another way when researching Burger King offerings.  What's interesting though is why Burger King didn't address Siri or Alexa?

Google Shines Focus on Level Pay Equity Field

Leveling pay equity a picture of Google Headquarters There is no doubt that pay equity and the wage gap is a hot button issue not just for specific companies but across all industries.  Google commented further in their blog today about the importance to them that men and women who join Google in the same role are compensated on a level playing field, both when they start and during the duration of their careers with the company.

In 2016, the company wanted to highlight the conversation around the gender pay gap - along with how companies could fight it - by sharing their top-level analysis publicly.  Annually, Google conducts what they deem as rigorous analyses so that their pay practices can remain aligned with their commitment to pay equity.

However, the federal government had another observation.

A Visit from the OFCCP

The company was taken aback when a representative from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the U.S. Department of Labor accused Google of not compensating women fairly.  The company claimed that the government's assertion failed to have any supporting data or methodology.  The representative claimed to have reached this conclusion even with the OFCCP seeking thousands of employee records, along with contact details of their employees as well as hundreds of thousands of documents they had already produced as a response to 18 different document requests.

Google states that they use the same confidence interval that is also used in medical testing (>95%).  They have also made the methodology available to other businesses to use as well, to try and test their own compensation methodology.

How The Pay Equity System at Google Works

Each year, Google suggests an amount for every employee's new compensation which can consist of a base salary, bonus and equity, that is based on role, job level, job location as well as current and recent performance ratings.  This amount is deemed "blind" to gender; those analysts who calculated the amount do not have access to any employees' gender data.  Employee managers have limited discretion for adjusting the suggested amount, providing they provide the appropriate rationale for the adjustment.

Google's pay equity model then looks to employees in the same job categories, analyzing their compensation to confirm the adjusted amount shows no statistically significant differences between the compensation of male and female employees.

Ultimately, the search engine giant remains hopeful in resolving the issue with the government, and stands firm in its belief that there are no pay equity issues at the company.

Search Giant Google Aims To Help Extinguish Fake News

A colorful logo of a Google Doodle while looking for the news Our Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds sure have evolved over the last few years haven't they?  They started as a means to see what is going on in our friends lives to maybe having a chance to get a re-tweet from a celebrity. News mediums have taken over, with many using their social media feeds to share and re-share news links.  However, given our heated political climate, how do we know what news may or may not be "fake news"?

There is no doubt that Google reigns supreme on the Internet when it comes to searching for information, aiming to help users obtain useful content that sites and publishers create.  But as Google came to realize, multitudes of new articles are published constantly every day, and that sheer amount of content could be overwhelming to most.  Therein lies the rub of also being able to help readers decide whether information could be factual, or sadly, false.

Time to Fact Check The News

This past October, Google partnered with Jigsaw, and announced that in a few countries they would start to enable publishers to show a "fact check" tag within Google News for news stories.  The label identifies articles with information already fact checked by news publishers as well as fact checking organizations.

Now, having obtained feedback from numerous users, Google has made the fact check label in Google News available everywhere, and is expanding it into Search globally in all languages.  So now, when you perform a search query on Google, that returns an authoritative result possessing one or more public claims, that information will be clearly shown on the search results page.  The displayed snippet will show information on the claim, who made the claim, and the resulting fact check of that particular claim.

One caveat though is that there IS the potential for this information to not be available for every search result and there could be search result pages where different publishers may have checked the same claim and came to different conclusions.  Google mentions that these fact checks are not theirs and is merely a chance to allow users to make informed judgments.

For more on the new feature, you can check out Google's Help Center.