If you were to describe me as an undying sports fanatic, well, you’d be almost completely wrong. Yet for some reason Google’s news algorithms are convinced I want to hear a podcast daily about fantasy baseball. This is an issue I have when I verbally request Google Assistant to “tell me the news.”
TL;DR – old man yells at cloud-backed machine learning
Oh, don’t get me wrong, if I were more into sports the fantasy side would be a good choice. Also their podcast does appears to be pretty cool. But I’m an old stereotypical geek, and other than the luge, short track skating, the occasional hockey game over the past 20 years (I think I’ve been to six?,) and one Portland Pickles event months after this started – there’s nothing on my Google Rap Sheet that should indicate I sports. (oh yeah, I was a fair weather fan of the Oregon Ducks football team.)
Every day, regardless of what news choices I follow, somewhere around 20 minutes into my briefing I’ll be presented with Pitcherlist Fantasy Baseball (once again, not a bad podcast, just not my thing,) and there is no way I’ve found to stop it. I’ve asked Google’s Twitter (no response,) read all the doc I can locate, I’ve searched high and low, found no way to train the news algo.
I can recall the number of times I’ve googled “Fantasy Baseball” and that number is 0 (until today when I needed a URL and have probably poisoned my recommendations.) What’s more, for baseball-related sports I have searched… never. This isn’t me being anti-baseball. Pre-internet I played a few games and enjoyed that (google does not know this,) just the watching of it nah.
I have asked google “don’t play this podcast.” I have asked to to never play. I have skipped it almost every time. I’ve told it I hate the podcast (I don’t, I’m just trying things.) There are no podcast choices in assistant settings for the longer news story segments. I went to Google Podcasts to see if I could block the podcast even, and evidently I can if I wake up and block an individual episode before I ask Google to tell me the news. That might work.
Google does some fine algorithmic work generally, but when it becomes convinced of something it doubles down and offers you no escape. I am trapped daily being presented with a quality production for which I have no interest.
I feel once again I should mention the podcast seems cool, they even devoted a shout out to my being forced to listen which amused me greatly. Nothing against it, just not my thing. Assistant isn’t learning my preferences in news either, and that’s kind of odd in the Googleverse.
Assistant’s insistence reminds me a bit of the Monte Python Spam sketch (not in the unsolicited email way, but in the why are you offering this to me way,) and serves to solidify my belief that machine learning without human training ability will keep resulting in the same issues (looking at you Sense Home Energy Monitor.) Results that are wrong, if well put together.
If fantasy sports are your thing, Pitcherlist seems to have it covered.