Not only does Google, the world’s preeminent index of information, tell its users that caramelizing onions takes “about 5 minutes”—it pulls that information from an article whose entire point was to tell people exactly the opposite. A block of text from the Times that I had published as a quote, to illustrate how it was a lie, had been extracted by the algorithm as the authoritative truth on the subject.
Five years after I thought I had buried the falsehood about quick onion cooking, Google is dragging it out of its grave to send it shambling into unsuspecting users’ kitchens. In fact, it made the lie even worse, because Google’s automated text analysis is too dumb to recognize that “about 5 minutes” followed by “about 5 minutes longer” means 10 minutes.
Do not try caramelizing onions in five minutes. And do not listen to Google.
And when it’s doing something as simple as that wrong, imagine what it’s doing with political facts. And imagine most people soon won’t even see contact, but just get a regurgitated snippet from alexa or siri.
Or, from twitter