Google decides it does not want to be fun anymore

New update will show fewer snippets answering stupid questions
<p>A man walks past the Google logo. PHOTO: AFP/FILE</p>

A man walks past the Google logo. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

If you ever used Google to answer a bunch of nonsensical and silly questions to while the time away, or you were just “feeling lucky”, well, the days of having fun with Google searches may be coming to an end.

In his latest blog titled “New ways we’re helping you find high-quality information” Google’s head of Search Pandu Nayak said that they aim to help people connect with the best and highest quality of information for their search queries.

As part of the new updates, Google has made changes to their snippets feature - the feature that gives a big piece of information that Google thinks is most relevant to the search query at the top of the page.

The new changes prioritize sources of information which rank high on Google’s information quality scale, including expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

He added that where their artificial intelligence is helping improve their systems better answer users, including building consensus - when multiple high-quality sources on the web all agree on the same fact - it will also no longer provide quick answers to stupid questions.

So if you ask: “When did snoopy assassinate Abraham Lincoln”, the system will tell you that Lincoln was killed in 1865 but it will struggle to answer whether Snoopy - the cartoon dog character developed by Charles Schultz - had killed America’s 16th president.

“We’ve trained our systems to get better at detecting these sorts of false premises, which are not very common, but are cases where it’s not helpful to show a featured snippet,” he said, adding that the move had resulted in a 40% reduction in the triggering of featured snippets in these cases.

Nayak went on to announce expansions to a host of other features about information that people search for on Google, primarily as a source to validate what they hear on social media networks or in other real-life conversations.

These expansions have impacted the “About this result” feature, with contextual additions such as how widely a source is circulated, online reviews about a source or company, and whether a company is owned by another entity.

Other improvements will include educating people about misinformation and including content advisories for information about which Google may not have a lot of good sources of information.

Other top silly questions Google will no longer answer include:

  • How to get in touch with the Illuminati?

  • Can I remove a tick with my teeth?

  • Who is the king of the United States?

  • Is Obama planning a coup?

  • Why are firetrucks red?

  • Presidents in the Klan?

  • How to get a date?

  • Are women evil?

  • What happened to the dinosaurs?

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