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It’s All Fun and Games Until the Robot Pees on Everything

Google Maps has been crowd-sourcing small details to their maps for a while.  Things like, where large patches of grass are, bike trails, small streams, etc.

If you wanted to make an edit to the map, it would be vetted by someone, usually not employed by Google, who was also local and could verify the change.  As you made more successful changes, Google granted you more freedom and the right to review other people’s submissions.

If you do this long and well enough, you don’t get reviewed by anyone.

Which apparently led to things like this:

android robot peeing on apple

A robot urinating on an apple outside the limits of Rawalpindi in Pakistan.

In response, Google turned off the ability for users to approve edits and instead, did them all in house.

You can guess what happened next.

From the Guardian:

(Quoting Google representative, Pavithra Kanakarajan) As you can imagine, turning automated and user moderation off has the direct implication of very large backlogs of edits requiring manual review. This in turn means your edits will take a long time to get published.

We believe that it is more fair to only say that if we do not have the capacity to review edits at roughly the rate they come in, we have to take a pause.

Google usually relies on customer feedback to regulate their products vs. Apple who keeps a tight grip on things.  They rely on customer ratings for apps to regulate whether or not they are useful/harmful/justgodawful.

In this case, they don’t have the ability to regulate everything and it isn’t in the Google spirit.

I’m not sure why they can’t just increase the number of approvals needed for each edit and never let anyone have all encompassing power.

Yes, maybe the peeing robot would still get through because people would think it is funny–but they could put in a measure that if you approve something that is intentionally harmful/wrong/etc., you lose all the map-karma you built up and go back to stage one.

What do you think?

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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One comment

  1. Best headline ever. Who couldn’t click on that?

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