Thursday, November 10, 2016

Exact string match searches are no longer possible on Google

I have been trying to get Google to "find" my photos of Barbara, here on Sphinxmoth. I believe Google does index this blog, so why don't they know about her? Frustration over this led me to search for "how to get exact matches?" and to discussions of how Google went with matching to "close Variants" instead of exact matches, at the end of 2014. There doesn't seem to be any explanation except it is somehow beneficial to their advertisers.

So I have a couple of thoughts about why Google had to stop providing exact matches. First off, why should a user care about Google's Ad revenue; and shouldn't Google prioritize users before customers?* Is it possible that exact search would conflict with broader "variant" searches that match customers to Ads? Given the difficulty of blending different algorithms without ad hoc decisions, I still wonder: why not add a button, to allow a choice of "exact matching"? 

 I suspect the reasons are deep and, in fact, would be embarrassing to admit: Google has been suckling too long on the 'bottle' of neural nets. They made the fundamental mistake of thinking they were "learning" and, in fact, they were only averaging. After a while the averages turn to mud. The coefficients become bloated with contradictory data. You add some 'poison' samples and (I know from personal experience) your entire library becomes corrupt, because it contains samples from too many diverse populations. Try treating a multi-modal distribution as a simple Gaussian!

If I am right, Google is doomed. So is Apple. Separately I see that Google's head of R&D is a neural net guru. How delightful.

(*) What part of "do no evil" did they forget?

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