Toronto Diary
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Google’s algorithm still equates ‘gay’ with ‘worst’

For those of you convinced that Google has become an all-powerful, all-seeing omniscient presence in our lives that will one day strangle everything in existence . . . well, turns out they might be a little too lazy to get around to that.

According to The Huffington Post, the algorithm Google uses to find search results has one teensy, tiny little flaw: you may have noticed that Google will automatically equate certain words and terms with others. Unfortunately, these comparisons are based less on common sense and more on internet vernacular, which means Google assumes words like “gay” mean the same thing as “worst.” Whoops.

For a long time, the words “vegetarian” and “vegan” were equated, leading to irritated user complaints on the product forums. Same with the words “gay” and “fag.” What’s interesting is Google’s refusal to manually correct the algorithm’s equations. When Buzzfeed asked Google to comment on the misstep, Google responded: “These results are determined by algorithms and we don’t manually correct this process.” In other words, removing an equivalency, no matter how homophobic, is a no-go.

So if Google isn’t homophobic, they’re either really lazy or really committed to not changing their algorithm? Well, that’s really more stupid than it is unscrupulous, I guess. I’m not sure if it’s any better, but it is still pretty stupid for a company that will one day achieve global domination.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of Google: the glasses? Accidents waiting to happen.

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