It seems that Google’s Knowledge Graph is making headlines for erroneous information almost as often as it is for expansion and new features.
Less than a month ago, we looked a pretty embarrassing example, when the St. Louis Cardinals’ Wikipedia page was vandalized, only to have Google’s Knowledge Graph describing the team as “a gay butt sex team based in St. Louis.” Wikipedia cleaned it up much more quickly than Google did, and the search engine showed that to users for hours, right while “St. Louis Cardinals” was a highly searched team. It happened during the World Series. Oops.
Now, Alex Chitu at Google Operating System points us to another example of Google showing poor information. It’s not quite as bad as the Cardinals incident, but it does show a man dying before he was born.
When you search for Robert Greene, you’re greeted with the following “knowledge panel,” showing that the American author was born in 1959, and died in 1592.
In reality, not only is Robert Greene from the 20th century, he’s also not dead.
As Chitu points out there was also a British author by the same name, who actually did die in 1592, so that’s where the confusion comes from. However, one of the main points of the Knowledge Graph is to help searchers differentiate between things of the same name, so it can better serve results. Ideally, Google would show one Robert Greene, and offer the option to “see results about” the other.
That’s not happening here (though I imagine it will once Google realizes what’s going on). We’ve seen the Knowledge Graph mix up things of the same name in the past too.
Remember when it was showing a picture of Brandy (the singer) for Brandy the drink?
We know the Knowledge Graph is not perfect, and Google has acknowledged as much, but it’s a bit disturbing that the amount of mistakes exposed seems to be trending upwards, especially considering that it now includes info on nutrition and medicine.