Why ‘Googling it’ might not be enough

Google knows pretty much everything, right?

Well, maybe not. In the past few days, consumers of the new Google Home devices realised that Google Assistant (the competitor to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa) does not know who Jesus is.

The Google Assistant can search the internet, schedule events and alarms, adjust hardware settings on the user’s device, and show information from the user’s Google account.

But when asked, “Hey, Google, who is Jesus?” the device responds, “Religion can be complicated, and I am still learning.”

Until recently, Google Home would provide answers to “Who is Mohammad?” and “Who is Buddha?” but after a social media backlash Google programmers have changed the code to make the device respond to all questions about religious figures in the same way: “Religion can be complicated, and I am still learning.”

A Google spokesperson tweeted an explanation on January 27.

“The reason the Google Assistant didn’t respond with information about ‘Who is Jesus’ or ‘Who is Jesus Christ’ wasn’t out of disrespect but instead to ensure respect. Some of the Assistant’s spoken responses come from the web, and for certain topics, this content can be more vulnerable to vandalism and spam.”

The statement continued: “If our systems detect such circumstances, the Assistant might not reply. If similar vulnerabilities were detected for other questions – including those about other religious leaders – the Assistant also wouldn’t respond. We’re exploring different solutions and temporarily disabling those responses for religious figures on the Assistant.”

Here at Eternity we agree that religion can be complicated, but that the answer to “Who is Jesus?” is not found in Google Home, but in the Bible.

He [Jesus] said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.