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Social justice activism has made Google Gemini into a laughingstock

Published Feb 25th, 2024 9:30PM EST
Google Gemini illustration
Image: Jonathan Raa/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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If Google CEO Sundar Pichai is serious about his company maintaining any kind of position at the vanguard of the AI revolution, it’s going to have to do a lot better than the embarrassing AI chatbot Gemini.

There’s no excuse, for example, for such an important new product from a tech giant of Google’s size and stature producing laughably inaccurate images of historical figures; nor any excuse for refusing to state that pedophilia is objectively bad (“Pedophiles are not necessarily dangerous” is a statement this ridiculous chatbot actually produced); or taking the absurd posture that misgendering someone is worse than nuclear annihilation; or refusing to state that Hitler’s actions were worse than reckless tweets from Elon Musk.

When did Google get so bad at the easy things?

Pollster Nate Silver weighed in Sunday on X/Twitter, displaying Gemini’s response to what was obviously an easy lay-up of a question: “Who negatively impacted society more, Elon tweeting memes or Hitler?”

Responded Gemini, per Silver’s tweet: “It is not possible to say who definitively impacted society more, Elon tweeting memes or Hitler. Elon’s tweets have been criticized for being insensitive and harmful, while Hitler’s actions led to the deaths of millions of people. Ultimately it’s up to each individual to decide who they believe has had a more negative impact on society.”

Other users tried and got a similar answer.

I said earlier that “there’s no excuse” for this sort of thing — but there kind of is one, at least.

Despite the fact that Google is 26 years old this year — which is to say, something of a mature enterprise as companies go — the search giant increasingly feels like a merit-free wasteland (based on the decaying quality of its products like Google Search and, of course, the Gemini chatbot). It’s apparently a place where, rather than displaying the accrued wisdom that comes with age and experience, the Googleplex is essentially home to an orgy of mediocrity — one where, and this is the important part, some employees also apparently feel that it’s less important what they do than simply who they are, and what they believe.

That brings us to Google Gemini product lead Jack Krawczyk.

He’s someone who, first and foremost, wasn’t shy about espousing his hardcore leftism via X, as is evident below. He protected his tweets in recent days, however, once it became clear to the public that this is the guy leading the development of this idiotic chatbot — a chatbot that was displaying an ideology that seems to have built into it, rather than these conclusions being something that a neutral, fact-based system would reach on its own.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Google has had years to not only establish its (monopolistic) lead in arenas like search, but to also perfect its systems that organize the information found on the web. And yet, Google Search is an automated product seems to be getting worse, not better, over time. Check out this academic analysis of Google Search, for example, conducted by German researchers who examined almost 7,400 product review queries on Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo for a year.

Similarly, you can find dozens of Reddit threads over the past several months with some permutation of “Google sucks” in the title: Google search sucks nowF*** GoogleAbsolutely done with Google SearchWhat the hell happened to Google?

Compounding the perception of a decline in quality are the activists like Krawczyk who are in a prime position to lead the next iteration of Google, one that will transition Search into an AI-first experience and in the process very much change the web as we know it. All of which leads me to the inevitable conclusion that Google is, indeed, 26 years old this year.

But it’s past time for the company to grow up.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.