Library bans itself

Really weird Google news results

This morning, when I checked Google News, the lead story had this headline and this first paragraph:

Miss World reporter faces fatwa
CNN Europe, Europe - 4 hours ago
Any true Muslim would make sure that this woman’s blood is spilled wherever she is. Do you agree the media is to blame for the riots in Nigeria?

Like, wow.

What Google News had done, of course, was to misidentify the nutgraph of the story. It had taken a quote from Mamoudu Shinkarfi, the deputy governor of Zamfara state, and algorithmically decided this was the key point of the piece.

Oops. For comparison’s sake, the original CNN story that Google News was scrubbing is here. I actually like Google News a lot, but this is an interesting reminder of how machine intelligence frequently does things that are, by human standards, totally bonkers.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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