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Machine learning: not ready for prime time...

Or more specifically, the Google News app's "learning".

I installed the app last night to try it out. And the first thing that I notice is that my "personal" feed is, by default, saturated with sports stories, mostly football (what Americans call "soccer"). Now as I never read, follow, share or comment on football stories, or indeed sports at all, Google can't have got this by trawling my web activity, so it must be a default setting for a UK male. An especially frustrating stereotype since the actual range of "real" stories in the feed felt rather small and narrow with more than half of the stories being about one particular class of passtime. Even more so when you took out the celebrity gossip.

But hey, Google say it's all about machine learning, so I decide to help them out. I spend a very long time telling them that I want to see "fewer stories like this", going through every sports, "celebrity" gossip and royal wedding story in the feed. By which time I can't be bothered to spend any more time in the app, but presumably it will be better tomorrow? Nope, this morning it's exactly the same. In fact if anything it's worse: the app pops up a notification to inform me about an "important" story? I'm sure you can guess what it's about: the same topic I'd already told it 40-50 times I want to see less of. But it gets better: after another mammoth downvoting session I find that stories I've already told it I want to see less of are reappearing. Not just the same story from a different source, but the exact same article that I downvoted earlier.

So now I'm wondering: are Google really interested in learning my preferences, or have they decided that they know what they should be and are going to stick to their guns until they wear me down (or I delete the app)? How many times do you have to say "fewer stories like this" before it has any effect at all on what they offer?

I mainly installed it because I thought that the feature of being able to get several perspectives on a story was potentially interesting. But I'm just surprised at how ineffective its learning has been so far.


#1 Hadron, May 16, 2018
Google knows whats best for you. Don't fight it, just assimilate.
#2 Unforgiven, May 16, 2018
Apparently Zuckerberg developed his own personal AI assistant. But it was voiced by Morgan Freeman, so maybe that helps?
#3 LV426, May 16, 2018
Brilliant: it just popped up a notification for a topic I've told it over 100 times I'm not interested in, from a source I've told it to hide all stories from.

The level of cluelessness here is actually becoming amusing...
#4 Hadron, May 16, 2018
Hadron vs Google News......... I'm dying to see how round 3 plays out!
#5 Zigman66, May 16, 2018