Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Asia and the Americas According to Google Autocomplete

Being married to a Colombian and having a professional interest in Asia, I started to wonder yesterday evening what results would be thrown up if I repeated yesterday's experiment for those two (three?) continents.

This exercise will certainly have made me few friends in China, and I am glad that I didn't use google.co.uk instead of google.com, as that would have produced 1.5 billion more enemies in India and Pakistan ('dirty' and 'a terrorist country' respectively) on top of the 1.3 billion Chinese who are now no longer my friends.

As I expected, using the form "Why is X so...?" produced "poor" as the autofill for almost all the entries (except the predictable grouping of Pakistan, China, Korea and Japan, which came back with 'dangerous', 'polluted', 'cold' and 'clean' respectively).  It's nice to know Americans are so inquisitive about the causes of global poverty; let's hope they use the information they find to do something about it.

As a result I used the form "Country X is..." and excluded autofill suggestions that were themselves questions wherever possible, though as you will see given the large number of autofill responses 'in what country' that wasn't always possible (it also shows that world geography is taught to a very poor standard in the US).

The Koreas threw up delightfully random results, as one might hope; from Afghanistan we get trite wisdom, and from Sri Lanka political commentary.  You will note that all of central (and indeed west) Asia is missing.  This is mainly because almost every country threw up the suggestion "in what country", except Kazhakstan and Turkmenistan, which came back with "the greatest country in the world" and "in Turkey", which both seem entirely appropriate.

The Americas proved to be a much more fruitful hunting ground of random silliness.  I used the same formula as described above.  My Colombian-ness by osmosis was smugly satisfied with the results for Colombia and Venezuela, while Ecuador had a weird and delightful British ring to it.  There is no arguing with the factual accuracy of Paraguay, and as for the U.S., perhaps something to think about?

Country X is...

(Apologies for the formatting if viewing on a mobile device.  If anyone has a suggestion as to how I can improve this, I'd be grateful to hear your suggestion in the comments section.  Thanks!)

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