Google and The Algos: Welcome To Our World (by Mark St.Cyr)

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The headline sounds like it should be said by some aging disc jockey
on a classic hits station. However it’s probably the newest phenom that
Google® itself never envisioned happening to them. After all, if you’re
the crowned ruler of the algorithm machine (some might call it more of a
monster) then you never think the robots can turn on you.

But these bots don’t belong to the Google kingdom, nor do they answer
to their servers. Just like Google, they can’t be reached by phone or
seemingly anything else if you disagree with what they’re doing – or
what they’ve done. Regardless if it cost you money, time, reputation, or
business disruption.

I do want to say Google has been a fantastic enabler, and disruptor
for both people and companies. We all take for granted what we can do
today for free with Google of what previously cost us exorbitant amounts
of money. But now Google faces a beast just as powerful, disruptive,
ruthless, or enabling of the algorithm world as itself: High Frequency
Trading aka HFT.

Many have had issues with the heavy hand of some platforms. For many
like myself, I have had issues and felt the impersonal hand (and hammer)
of Google’s algorithmic side. Dealing with any issues is more akin to
talking to a wall or worse.

A while back I had an issue with YouTube™. Personally I never liked
the YouTube format for my own content. Then there came a time I was
experimenting with some different ideas, and I thought; “Hey why not?”
So I put a few things up.

A few weeks went by when out of no where I received a notice stating
someone had accused me of copyright infringement. Yet not to worry. They
were going to allow me to leave my material up with one caveat: The
accuser was now allowed to put commercials on my material, and there was
basically nothing I could do about it.

I can’t tell you how taken back I was about this accusation. Reason
being I actually instruct people how to be aware and respectful of
copyright, trademarks, and others. The insult to injury was: “Who were
they (Google) to give anyone the right to make money using my copyright
material without my permission? For what ever the reason!”

Immediately as instructed (you get a hyperlink to click on) I emailed
to state this as a mistake and stated my case. I received an email a
day later that the accuser didn’t agree. (No kidding?) The problem was
they had no idea of what they were claiming infringement for. However
the “algo’s” flagged my material as a possible infringement so they
assumed they must be right. After all the algo’s must always be correct.
That’s why they’re algo’s!  Which is what many misinformed people

It’s a long story, and you can read it here
if you wish. But the issue and accusation was frivolous. Yet, there was
nothing I could do except try to resolve it using the impersonal
“reference” sections within the Google machine. All the while someone
else has control of my material.

I even went as far as filling out the so-called “legal” form that by
all intent and purpose alerts everyone involved that you are taking this
serious and willing to push this into court if needed. The response? I
still haven’t received one to this day. (I closed and pulled all my
material within 48 hours of no response.)

The algorithms don’t care what you say, what you think, if you’re
right, if you’re wrong. They don’t care – and seemingly neither do their
owners. And they have made it near impossible to not deal with anything
other than – the machine. Even if the machine is at fault. Remember,
there is no phone number. Just send an email and wait-and wait-and
wait-and wait-and…

On Thursday of this week Google by way of someone elses algo’s lost
nearly 10% of its total market cap. (about $25 BILLION) in mere minutes.
Why? Because of an earlier than scheduled release of their earnings.
The algo’s saw the info – flagged the info – and executed on that info.
Regardless if it is correct, wrong, mistaken, or anything else one can
conjure up.

And just like Google itself there are no phone numbers to call that a
mistake was made. No one to complain to that the information was not
handled properly. No one to plead their case to that something erroneous
happened. No, just the same helplessness one faces if mistakenly wronged by the algo’s.

Later this same day Google released its earnings at the originally
scheduled time. We heard Mr. Page himself make claims, and assertions
that everything was great and will only get better. Yet the algo’s don’t
seem to care. As of this writing the stock is not only falling farther.
It seems the algo’s don’t care for the reasoning why they shouldn’t
continue. After all, they are in control now of Google’s material
(stock) and they can do with it what they wish. In their world, they are
judge and jury. Google is just another user like us.

Maybe Google should look on the HFT sites as for the proper forms (or
F.A.Q.’s page) to fill out if they feel wronged. After all, that’s what
you do on their site if you have an issue, or you’ve been harmed by a
possible mistake by the algo’s.

I wonder if they’ll be a question to answer on the form like: “Did
this answer help you?” Because if it’s anything like mine. I’m still
waiting for an answer.

© 2012 Mark St.Cyr