Hashtag Trending Jan.18- Google Search quality declining?; Samsung taking on Apple by integrating AI; The end of self checkout

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Google Search quality may be getting worse.  Samsung partners with Google to embrace AI after its move to number the number 2 spot in the smartphone market. Sam Altman says that we might be uncomfortable with new AI developments, self-checkout may be on its way out. And it turns out that incognito mode doesn’t mean you can’t be tracked. 

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All this and more in this edition of Hashtag Trending.

I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.

It’s not your imagination.

A recent study by German researchers has highlighted a significant issue with Google Search: it’s swamped with SEO spam. 

The study, conducted by Leipzig University, Bauhaus-University Weimar, and the Center for Scalable Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence, focused on 7,392 product review queries across Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo over a year. 

The findings? A deluge of low-quality content, particularly in product searches, is burying useful information. 

The researchers observed a constant battle between spam sites and search engines, with spam often winning the top spots in Google’s rankings. Despite efforts by search engines to remove spam, the impact is only temporary. 

The study noted a downward trend in text quality across all three search engines, with AI-generated spam expected to exacerbate the problem. The researchers call for more attention to this dynamic adversarial spam, which produces mass low-quality commercial content.

And what about the ads masquerading as search results?  Just asking…

Sources include: Mashable 

Samsung aims to reclaim its position in the global smartphone market, having recently fallen behind Apple with a big bet on integrating AI into its phones and moving up in price.

Samsung and Google have entered a multi-year partnership, integrating Google Cloud’s generative AI into Samsung devices.

The Galaxy S24 series, including a base model, a “+” version, and the high-end Ultra model, showcases varying features like larger screens, multiple camera lenses, and for the Ultra, a titanium frame. Pricing starts at $799.99 for the base model, with the Ultra at $1,299.99.

The S24 series stands out with its AI capabilities, offering a mix of on-device and cloud-based features. These include advanced photo editing, live translation, and summarization tools. 

The Samsung Google partnership will utilize Google’s Gemini Pro and Imagen 2 models, enhancing user experience with innovative features like screen-based search and access to Google’s top-tier Gemini Ultra AI model.

Samsung is placing its bet that AI can push them back to the number one spot they occupied for many years. 

Sources include: Axios

Google is revising the warning for Chrome’s Incognito mode, clarifying that data collection by Google and other websites still occurs in this supposedly private browsing option. 

This update aligns with Google’s move to settle a class-action lawsuit accusing it of privacy violations in Incognito mode. 

The new warning, currently in Chrome Canary (a developer build), states, “You’ve gone Incognito… This won’t change how data is collected by websites you visit and the services they use, including Google.” 

This change aims to educate users about the limitations of Incognito mode, which prevents data storage on devices but does not stop external tracking.

The update is significant as it addresses a common misconception about private browsing modes. While Incognito mode stops Chrome from saving browsing history, cookies, and form data, it explicitly mentions that downloads, bookmarks, and reading list items will be saved. 

Yeah, I thought incognito meant…incognito.  Silly me.

Sources include: Ars Technica 

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said  OpenAI’s next big model “will be able to do a lot, lot more” than the existing models can.”

Altman also said,  AI is evolving much more rapidly than previous technologies that took Silicon Valley by storm. But he also conceded that the evolution and proliferation of OpenAI’s technology will require “uncomfortable” decisions.

What is uncomfortable? Altman said that while some ethical boundaries and norms, like extreme human rights violations are “out of bounds,… but he said,  “there are probably other things that I don’t personally agree with, but a different culture might. … We have to be somewhat uncomfortable as a tool builder with some of the uses of our tools.”

Hands up if you understand what that means. He had me at uncomfortable.

Altman also highlighted the potential for AI to transform knowledge work and accelerate scientific discovery. 

Reflecting on his brief ousting as CEO, Altman discussed internal debates over balancing growth with responsible technology use. He defended OpenAI’s content licensing deals and addressed the controversy with the New York Times over copyright infringement. 

Sources include: Axios

The era of self-checkout kiosks in retail stores might be on the decline. Initially hailed as a futuristic solution, these kiosks have turned out to be more problematic than beneficial, both for consumers and retailers. Major retailers like Target and Walmart are scaling back or removing these systems. Target has limited self-checkout to ten items or less in some stores, while Walmart has removed them entirely from certain locations. 

The primary issue with self-checkout is theft. It’s not only easier to steal from these machines, but shoppers often end up stealing unintentionally due to the complicated nature of the self-checkout process. 

A Lending Tree survey found that one in five shoppers accidentally stole items during self-checkout, and one in seven did so intentionally. 

Despite their high installation costs, self-checkout kiosks have not delivered the expected reduction in overall expenses. 

While 60 per cent of consumers in 2021 preferred self-checkout, frustration and negative experiences are leading to a growing disenchantment with these systems.

Sources include: Gizmodo  

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.” 

We love your comments. Send me a note at jlove@itwc.ca or leave a comment at the bottom of the show notes posted on itworldcanada.com

I’m your host Jim Love.  Have a Thrilling Thursday!

The post Hashtag Trending Jan.18- Google Search quality declining?; Samsung taking on Apple by integrating AI; The end of self checkout first appeared on IT World Canada.

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