Increasingly, Google has been trying to provide people with direct answers to questions rather than sending them to web sites. That got Google into trouble yesterday with comedian Stephen Colbert, because it cut an inch off his height.
On his show last night, Colbert joked about googling himself as he regularly does, only to be horrified to learn that Google lists his height as 5 foot 10 inches:
Indeed, Google is still listing his height that way now:
The problem is that Colbert is actually 5′ 11″ — so Google has robbed him of an inch:
Colbert then spoke directly to Google CEO Larry Page, saying that he demands a retraction, apology, substantial cash settlement “or I will see your ass in court.”
Colbert explained that his actual height puts him in the company Brad Pitt and Russell Crowe. “These are my peers. When we’re in the steam room naked no shoes, we’re looking at each other eye-to-eye… seriously, 5′ 10″, those are Matt Damon numbers.”
He concludes by pointing out that Google lists Page’s height as … 5′ 11″ and says, “Couldn’t stand the competition, huh.”
Why Google Gets It Wrong
On our sister site Search Engine Land, we’ve covered other mistakes Google has made, as it has accelerated its use of direct answers. Here are two examples:
- Some Of The Weird Issues When Google’s Quick Answers Come From Random Sources
- Google Quick Answer Fail: NSFW Advice On “How To Eat Sushi”
The challenge Google faces is that it really doesn’t “know” anything — it only gets answers from others, and those answers, not vetted by human beings for accuracy, can be wrong.
I just did a presentation at Dreamforce this week on this very topic. Below are my slides (which eventually will become an article):
And Siri Also Gets It Wrong
By the way, Siri also gets Colbert’s height wrong:
Colbert didn’t raise that when he made an video appearance during Apple’s iPad event today. Perhaps that would have been awkward, but more likely, he didn’t even check.
Here’s Colbert’s full-clip: