Jack Nicas (WSJ, Google Search)


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

And last when he hears the word Google has become a verb more than anything else and here to talk about how using Google. Can distort some of the the ways that we see the world as Jack need guess from the Wall Street Journal Jack thanks for coming on thus. Thanks. Jack can you talk about the yes but what's the name of the box at the top is that the preferred search box that comes up when we when we Google something. Well when you remove something that some Google now will deliver US essentially what it. Seemingly definitive answer and that's called featured it. It featured snippets so. Can you talk about the rise of this featured snippet and in just what its overall purposes according to Google first. Sure so super glue really years Google. Two year search result your searches will it presents you need the resources it would kind of be ten blink and you'd go under answers so over the past. In a few years Google has really increased use. Of these so called featured it as which are essentially an effort by Google to give you any in answer to your question directly. And it goes out into the Internet book across the web for. But to detect it appeared answer what you're looking for in an order out and get situated answering and the issue of that we found and tomorrow our investigation it. These features that aren't always right and down and that obviously mission because people really cool guys kind of arbiter of truth. How is going to decide which result ends up as the featured snippet. Well it just like search results there's a couple of where are secret a couple of them that. You know. Really goes out and delivered that and then looks for the detect it appears to beat the question directly on and it also. I will. Consider other factors including the what it believes the authority of the worst and also work. Yet any good examples of Gould is being flat out wrong. Or just at least at least debatable. Well yes I mean what we found is you know dozens if not more examples. Who weighing in on questions that. Were you don't subjective. At best and probably unanswerable Leo I mean our philosophy religion politics that are. I'm so for example we. We surged who were the worst he goes double time and who answered. With a name and visible in chief executive. That was a source with and then. Yes. You know. For example does money buy happiness Google will will give you an answer that says. Quote there's an upside to research to prove it in the there and you to study about that. I'm and it's even weighing in aren't really divisive issues. You have should abortion be legal who recently decided that south African news site that said about the place of government the legislate against one choices. But if you ask should abortion be illegal there promoted an answer from that they're quick they cite as an abortion murder. How in terms of the influence that this has on people behavior how influential. Can those snippets beat do we have any any data on that. Well there's. There's that data we have is you know the mark and from element does the eighty. Survey every year across the world of what people trust their permission and for the past three years. Search engines have come in I'd be most trusted source mentioned above social media or traditional media. And and that means you know. In Google of course handled 90% more than 90% Internet searches in the world so. Yeah no. People really really in Q. Treat good level authority on things then especially when we're serving up answer that it appears to be could be definitive answer and presented a larger sized ball albeit short resulted in many cases it was even reading the answer allowed especially if you're using it on. Talking on speaker at Berkeley has been. Be answered really confident there authority. Very good well Jack we appreciate you joining us today thank you very much of the time and in the work on this. Thank you. Jack need gas from the Wall Street Journal. One thing to also keep in mind with regards to this when Google goes about. Serving you search results. It's not a standard result that they give. They tale more than based on your past behavior based on your location in based on all of these different factors that we might not even know. So I wanna do a little bit of an experiment actually just to see if we if we get any any differences Tucker what's what's the topic that were covering today were let's let's do this this self driving car down America. Let's hope I can self driving cars into Google now kind. All right. Self driving. Cars in I'm curious if we all by testing card stamped. What's a self driving car I don't know what but what does it do that's all the type all I'm curious just if we end up getting you know different results here so. You know we get a couple new stores at the top. But then I've got Wikipedia article something from our Google summer from the guardian from wired. New York Times ours technique are you guys got him the same thing yeah yeah sega's again the same on that but our new Google will deliver different results if you may be looked at these things previously. And so I almost wonder if in some cases based on your previous searches in in browsing history. If you just kind of keep getting sucked into the same rabbit holes and all of a sudden your behavior changed because of. Yeah here's where Google needs to be a little bit more careful as. Sergio Google something you see an answer written in print. It's gonna give you a link to where found the article and you can very easily go and look at this but if you are asking your Google home question. And it just reason answer allowed it does not easily allow you to go search ad in Europe presenting it as fast benefits if you're. Showings have in presenting it as fact and not setting your sources. And you know certainly if you're doing something that's debatable then you're running into issues in where I think you Google would run into real issues here is they are in this big argument along with FaceBook along with Twitter along with a bunch of other companies about whether or not. They are news companies. And if they are that there's a whole series of regulations that they could face and if they. If they go down the wrong direction here than it could lead to more regulations for their businesses don't do this right yet so effect. Whither the the fear is that you know someone you know walks and says hey is the moon made of cheese Google and Google says yes of course the moon's made of cheese and then all of a sudden you're walking around saying wolf Google says so than it has to be tour pay out and obviously you know that's a you kind of know. One interpretation everything you can you can ask Google serious questions as well and if you're getting. You know incomplete information and not knowing where came from. All of a sudden you're in a whole heap of trouble because you know now your believing that not only is and who made of cheese but you can take spoon need it. And it and that's where you get in some real trouble. The good news here I mean if there's a silver lining me there's a study done a 5000 questions. And the search engine answer 74% of them and the answer that they provided were 97 point 4% correct which went wrong. Out of yeah and I don't know which ones for wearing crash but if you think about how many people are Google on a regular basis if you have a 97 point 4% accuracy rate. That means you're still providing wrong answers millions and millions of times in in millions of times per day there are 3.5 billion Google searches day sound just to point that out.