Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Google: Best Adaptation of a Novel To a Patent?

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the they'd-like-to-thank-the-academy dept.

Google 42

theodp writes "The USPTO's Thursday publication of Google's patent application for Inferring User Interests was nicely-timed, coinciding with what ZDNet called Google's privacy policy doomsday. The inventors include Google Sr. Staff Research Scientist Shumeet Baluja, the author of The Silicon Jungle, a cautionary tale of data mining's promise and peril, which Google's Vint Cerf found 'credible and scary.' No doubt some will feel the same about Beluja's patent filing, which lays out plans for mining 'user generated content, such as user interests, user blogs, postings by the user on her or other users' profiles (e.g., comments in a commentary section of a web page), a user's selection of hosted audio, images, and other files, and demographic information about the user, such as age, gender, address, etc.'"

cancel ×

42 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Let me be the first to say... (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | about 2 years ago | (#39219989)

Worst. Submission. Ever.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (2, Funny)

Rennt (582550) | about 2 years ago | (#39220071)

I'm pretty sure it was written by chatterbot trained on previous slashdot submissions.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about 2 years ago | (#39220141)

Well Shumeet Baluja (halleluja?) got some good publicity out of this...

Re:Let me be the first to say... (1)

Wovel (964431) | about 2 years ago | (#39220329)

Please, it does not even hav n inexplicable Apple tag yet.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (1)

Wovel (964431) | about 2 years ago | (#39220339)

Apparently auto-correct has taken to removing random vowels.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 2 years ago | (#39221601)

Apparently auto-correct has taken to removing random vowels.

It's because your name spells vowel wrong.

Re:Let me be the first to say... (3, Informative)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#39224075)

I was going to mod you up, then felt the need to explain why instead.

Shumeet Baluja is the author of a forthcoming book. The patent was filed November 7, 2011, presumably having been worked on for a while. The book was published in 2011, apparently mid-year but I didn't find a definite date. Baluja is not an author, but a CompSci PHD who wrote a book. And is employed by the patent owner, Google. Previously, he worked in data mining.

The novel was not adapted to a patent - both were the obvious result of Baluja's research and interests. The author is one of the inventors. It's the same thing in two forms. This is no different from "The Soul of a New Machine" which, although non-fiction, nonetheless surely had some parts over-dramatized. Take something you are working on, add fictional characters, and show how it can be used (or abused).

In other words, a fictionalized memoir. Ergo, Worst. Submission. Ever. Not news, barely qualifies as trivia.

Patent unworthy (1)

sosume (680416) | about 2 years ago | (#39219995)

So, according TFS, Google has applied for a patent on .. wait ..
Organizing contacts by applying scores to certain properties .. but now with a computer!
Amazing that patents on processes and algorithms are still taken into consideration.

Not as if Google competitors file junk patents (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 2 years ago | (#39220465)

So how many hundreds of junk panents have Apple and Microsoft filed? And how many bogus lawsuits have those companies filed against Android device makers? Or other Google interests? And how many scox-scam like lawsuits has Microsoft filed by proxie?

God forbid Google do anything to protect itself from those hyper-aggressive lawsuit scam companies. Google being evil evil EVIL!!!

Derived works and copyright (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39220127)

At some point, such a mechanical transformation to create such derived works will no longer be creative, and as such, copyright will continue to vest solely in the original users. So remember kiddies, register your copyrights in bulk to be eligible for your $150,000 per infraction payday.

Maybe for once we can use the legal system to route around damage.

Re:Derived works and copyright (3, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#39220601)

The legal system tends to route *towards* damage. There's no incentive for it not to,

Re:Derived works and copyright (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#39220895)

The legal system tends to route *towards* damage. There's no incentive for it not to,

Excellent point!

Re:Derived works and copyright (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | about 2 years ago | (#39221551)

Let me fix that for you. The "legal system" is neutral. Lawyers tend to route towards damage, because there's a strong disincentive not to.

There's nothing preventing you from representing yourself pro se, for example.

Re:Derived works and copyright (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#39221785)

There's nothing preventing you from representing yourself pro se, for example.

Except the lawyers have made the law so complex that even they don't really understand it any more.

poisoning the mine (1)

eclectus (209883) | about 2 years ago | (#39220129)

So how long to someone makes a browser plugin that searches google for thousands of random words, thus making google's data mining worthless?

Re:poisoning the mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220277)

It already exists, although the name escapes me at the moment.

Re:poisoning the mine (1)

avgjoe62 (558860) | about 2 years ago | (#39220905)

Did you google for it?

Re:poisoning the mine (1)

ZorroXXX (610877) | about 2 years ago | (#39224491)

The name is TrackMeNot [nyu.edu] :

TrackMeNot is a lightweight browser extension that helps protect web searchers from surveillance and data-profiling by search engines. It does so not by means of concealment or encryption (i.e. covering one's tracks), but instead, paradoxically, by the opposite strategy: noise and obfuscation. With TrackMeNot, actual web searches, lost in a cloud of false leads, are essentially hidden in plain view. User-installed TrackMeNot works with the Firefox Browser and popular search engines (AOL, Yahoo!, Google, and Bing) and requires no 3rd-party servers or services.

Google goes Stalking (3, Insightful)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about 2 years ago | (#39220145)

So I got Google following me around as I shop, making notes that I looked at horse blankets, I bought horse supplements, I researched electronic white boards, I read various political blog sites, and they know I'm a Libra...much of that public knowledge anyway and not much different then if someone physically followed me around and noted all the stores and building I went into. Computers make it easier, but not much different in concept.

For Google to keep their "Do No Evil" motto intact would be to establish all this information as (1) and opt in format so that no one but Google and myself sees this data (2) that all the data they collect is made available to me and I can be selective in what I allow shown to the public and (3) when I do opt in I can then be assured that only information I deem acceptable is presented to advertizes and whomever else pays for data like this. Otherwise they have completed their decent into the darkness.

I also always remember that what ever I do on a network is never private. That if I want privacy, I talk face to face, I write a physical letter, or I keep to myself my actions. Never trust the internet with privacy, nor Google potentially.

Re:Google goes Stalking (3, Informative)

Peristaltic (650487) | about 2 years ago | (#39220209)

Look- you need to ditch the concept that Google adheres to "Do No Evil". That train left the station a while back- They are just another corporation looking towards the next quarterly earnings report and beholden to their investors. Period. They will do what they can get away with, and when they can't get away with it, they'll apologize for their "mistake".

How dare Google defend themselves (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 2 years ago | (#39220621)

from hyper-aggressive patent trolls like Apple and Microsoft.

Anybody care to compare the number of offensive lawsuits launched by Apple, and compare that to the number of offensive lawsuits launched by Googe?

How about comparing junk patents filed?

Google is being evil evil EVIL!!!

Re:How dare Google defend themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39222351)

Christ.
I hope you're a Google employee 'cos it would be a shame to think that you could be so blinkered.

Re:How dare Google defend themselves (1)

Peristaltic (650487) | about 2 years ago | (#39225041)

Anybody care to compare the number of offensive lawsuits launched by Apple, and compare that to the number of offensive lawsuits launched by Googe?

How about comparing junk patents filed?

I was not trying to make a point that Google is actually evil. I was not comparing Google to any other corporation. What I was saying is that the mantra that everyone keeps referring to when talking about Google ("Do No Evil"), is meaningless. As I said above: They are just another corporation looking towards the next quarterly earnings report and beholden to their investors. Period. Pretty much like any other corporation.... i.e. there's nothing special about Google and I would bet that "Do No Evil" is meaningless inside the company.

Amusing that you manage to derive:

Google is being evil evil EVIL!!!

out of that.

Re:How dare Google defend themselves (1)

swillden (191260) | about 2 years ago | (#39226933)

What I was saying is that the mantra that everyone keeps referring to when talking about Google ("Do No Evil"), is meaningless.

Technically, it's "Don't Be Evil."

They are just another corporation looking towards the next quarterly earnings report and beholden to their investors. Period.

Actually, Google is quite different in a couple of ways. One huge one is that the company is really not very beholden to its investors. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, between them, have more votes than all of the rest of the shareholders combined. During the IPO they gave their stock 10 votes per share, and the common stock only one vote per share. Given that both of them have more money than anyone could spend, I think that really reduces the focus on stock price.

Another is that in the Founders' Letter during the IPO [google.com] , which as I understand it is a legally-binding document that sets out how the company is to be run and what goals it will pursue, Page and Brin specified that Google is not and will not be a quarterly-focused company.

How different does that make the company, really? I don't know. But I can say that from the inside it looks very different from the other corporations I've worked for.

I would bet that "Do No Evil" is meaningless inside the company.

In my experience as a Google employee, that's not true. In terms of terminology, the phrase "Don't be evil" doesn't get used much... instead it's usually phrased as "Be Googley" or "That's the Googley way to do it", or similar. "Googley" is an adjective that has a lot of meanings, but respect for others, including others' privacy, is a big part of it. When decisions are being made, having someone say that an idea is not Googley is a near-fatal blow. Unless the proponents of the idea can explain why it is Googley (non-evil), or can fix it so that it's Googley, it's going to fail -- and "But it will make us a lot of money" is not a valid counterargument.

The one exception, I think, is ideas that have the potential to be evil. Those are okay, as long as care is taken to ensure that Google will not, in fact, use them in evil ways. Thus, it's not considered evil to compile a big patent warchest, because Google intends to use the patents only in defensive ways. The fact that a future Google, with a different policy, could act differently is not considered an argument that compiling a big patent warchest is non-Googley. Similarly, collecting lots of information about people who haven't opted out isn't evil because Google doesn't intend to use the information in evil ways. On the other hand, collecting information about people who have said they don't want to be tracked is non-Googley.

So, I'd say while "Don't Be Evil" may not be interpreted as stringently as some might like, it's far from meaningless.

Keep in mind, though, that I speak from my perspective as a one-year employee, who's mainly only seen how my little corner of the company works. The culture appears to be pretty consistent company-wide, however, and there's a strong focus on "indoctrinating" all new employees. The very first training session I had, on my very first day of employment, was all about Google culture and what it means to be Googley. I really think it's taken seriously.

Re:How dare Google defend themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39230443)

Dude, you are an idiot. Google has 20,000+ employees. While there are plenty of good and honest engineers there, there are also hundreds of assholes who could not care less about being googley. Some of them are high profile assholes that you know of: Vic Gundotra, David Drummond, Andy Rubin, Ben Treynor. Others are not that well known but big assholes anyway.

Nobody believes the "Don't Be Evil" bullshit anymore, even if you are an employee. Google generally does the right thing, but many times it doesn't. Plenty of people inside of Google told the Vic Gundotra asshole that the Real Names policy was a very bad idea, but the asshole chose to ignore that and go ahead. That is why I never use Google products outside of work. Ditto for the Honeycomb source code fiasco with the Andy Rubin shithead, and so on and so forth.

I still don't understand why you feel the need to defend Google in every Google-related post. Yes, you work there, so do I, but I don't drink the Google cool-aid, unlike you. I'd like you to start thinking by yourself. Also, take your hunting rifle and shove it up your ass.

--
The Strong Jas!

Re:Google goes Stalking (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 years ago | (#39221097)

I also always remember that what ever I do on a network is never private. That if I want privacy, I talk face to face, I write a physical letter, or I keep to myself my actions. Never trust the internet with privacy, nor Google potentially.

I keep that in mind too, knowing that even if I ditched chrome, google would still know what I was doing through their ad networks.

Still, it's a bit disconcerting to log into gmail and get a helpful notice that it can import all my email from foo@someotheraccount for me.

Re:Google goes Stalking (1)

swillden (191260) | about 2 years ago | (#39226357)

and opt in format so that no one but Google and myself sees this data

Per their privacy policy, Google does not share your data with anyone else without your permission, with two exceptions:

1. Google will comply with the law. For example, if Google is served with a search warrant for your data, they'll hand it over.

2. For "external processing". What the privacy policy says is "We provide personal information to our affiliates or other trusted businesses or persons to process it for us, based on our instructions and in compliance with our Privacy Policy and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures."

Actually there's a third exception if you're using a Google Apps account, which is that your domain admin may have access to stuff. As an admin for a Google Apps domain, I don't see that I have any special access to information about the accounts in my domain, but maybe there's something I'm not seeing. Well, I guess I could change their passwords and log in as them.

all the data they collect is made available to me and I can be selective in what I allow shown to the public

See the Google privacy dashboard to see what information Google has collected on you (google.com/privacy/tools). Google's privacy policy says they don't show any of your data to the public.

when I do opt in I can then be assured that only information I deem acceptable is presented to advertizes and whomever else pays for data like this

Google doesn't sell your data.

(Disclaimer: I'm a Google engineer, but the above is my own, personal understanding of the privacy policy, gained from reading it myself. I could be completely wrong. Read it yourself to be sure what it says -- it's not long and it's written in plain English.)

Re:Google goes Stalking (1)

Branciforte (2437662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39235137)

1) Whether it is opt-in or opt-out, no one but you and Google algorithms ever see the data.
2) All the data they collect *is* available to you to review. Just check your Google dashboard.
3) No matter what you agree to, none of your information is ever given to third parties. Google matches the advertisements to your information internally.

Heinlein and the waterbed! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220159)

Heinlein provided prior art for the waterbed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterbed
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_A._Heinlein

Just another Google smear (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | about 2 years ago | (#39220433)

Does Slashdot ever get tired of BS Google smears?

Now I guess it's time for "anonomous" with 20 different logins to start screaming about Google being evil evil EVIL!!!

Re:Just another Google smear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220541)

You are being hysteric. Calm down.

Sexism? (1)

idontusenumbers (1367883) | about 2 years ago | (#39220467)

"postings by the user on her or other users' profiles" Was this an implication that more women are Google+ users than men?

Re:Sexism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220581)

They would know.

Re:Sexism? (1, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39220593)

No, the female pronoun is frequently the default when the author is giving an example and is too lazy to say "he/she" or some permutation thereof. This replaces the former ubiquitous use of male pronouns amongst the sort of people who are committed to appearing as progressive as possible, and should be read as "trying too hard to impress feminists."

Re:Sexism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39220711)

"Singular they" for the win!

Re:Sexism? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39222147)

Ew. No thanks. Humans are hereby "it" from now on. (After all, if you're too lazy to pick a gender or spell out the options, is this person you're talking about really a person?)

Re:Sexism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39230113)

But humans are special, magical creatures with all kinds of traits unrivaled in the animal kingdom and therefore unworthy of the term "it". Surely, as a biologist, you know that! :P

Re:Sexism? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39231915)

Oh boy, do I ever. The one really remarkable thing about humans is the tendency to in-fight; internal arms races much moreso than any external evolutionary pressure have made us what we are.

Re:Sexism? (1)

pseudofrog (570061) | about 2 years ago | (#39220603)

Nope.

But I think you knew that already.

Nobody's doing this already? (1)

preaction (1526109) | about 2 years ago | (#39220825)

Google's the first? Really? I thought that everyone was doing this already, if not automated.

Grocery store clubs (2)

Shotgun (30919) | about 2 years ago | (#39222929)

Those little discount cards you get at the grocery stores. How is this any different? Well...other than the fact that you can't pick up porn at the grocery stores where I live.

Scraping websites is patentable? (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#39223055)

So this "Beluja" scrapes websites for information about users, and this is a patentable idea?

Given that screen scraping has been pretty much a standard technology since the '80s and '90s when IBM green screen applications were scraped and repackaged as windowed interfaces, and the number of industries which employ scraping of websites for sales leads and other information, I can't imagine WHAT these bozos think they've "created" or "invented" that justifies a patent.

But then again, this IS slashdot, where we LOOK for the really stupid patents so we can all get together, laugh, point, and emulate "The Simpsons" Nelson character by derisively laughing:

Ha-Ha!

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>