Today in "Skynet rewrites history" news, a Google algorithm has been responsible for mixing up an engineer based in Switzerland with a notorious serial killer online.
The mix up happened when algorithms mistakenly took a photograph of engineer Hristo Georgiev and placed it into a Wikipedia entry for Hristo Georgiev, who is described by the same entry as "a Bulgarian rapist and serial killer who murdered five people, mainly women, between 1974 and 1980".
The software engineer seemed to take the news in stride.
Seems like Google falsely associated a photo of mine with a Wikipedia article of a serial killer. I don't know if this is hilarious or terrifying. pic.twitter.com/rmAL7uQYy4— Hristo Georgiev (@hggeorgievcom) June 24, 2021
He even wrote a blog post called "Google turned me into a serial killer".
"As I was scrolling through my inbox today, I stumbled upon an e-mail from a former colleague of mine who wanted to inform me that a Google search of my name yields a picture of me linked to a Wikipedia article about a serial killer who happens to have the same name as mine," he wrote.
"I quickly popped out my browser, opened Google and typed in my name. And indeed, my photo appeared over a description of a Bulgarian serial killer," his blog says. "My first reaction was that somebody was trying to pull off some sort of an elaborate prank on me, but after opening the Wikipedia article itself, it turned out that there's no photo of me there whatsoever."
"It turns out that Google's knowledge graph algorithm somehow falsely associated my photo with the Wikipedia article about the serial killer. Which is also surprisingly strange because my name isn't special or unique at all; there are literally hundreds of other people with my name, and despite of all that, my personal photo ended up being associated with a serial killer. I can't really explain to myself how this happened, but it's weird."
Several days later, the engineer reported the that problem had been fixed.
Google fixed the problem. No harm done (or none that I‘m aware of). Blog post updated - https://t.co/rOeQoQnZK7— Hristo Georgiev (@hggeorgievcom) June 26, 2021