It’s been widely reported that Google Assistant lacks knowledge about religions. I decided to test this. Here’s the result:
Note: Google can look up info on people from Wikipedia. But ask Google perfectly legitimate questions about religious people, and it gives the lame “Religion can be complicated and I’m still learning”.
Amazon’s Alexa handles all of these tasks easily.
What was Google thinking? Right wingers are claiming religious bias or endemic atheism, but I think the answer is simpler: Google has now let product decisions be ruled by their legal or HR departments. Even so, this case feels misguided. Really? Is it risky to go look up an answer on Wikipedia and read it? Imagine someone does complain about the content – you’d just point to the source! And these aren’t just religious figures, they’re some of the most important historical ones.
Their cowardly choice makes the product feels crippled and Google gets a round of bad press because their product lacks functionality. It also highlights that Google has sadly matured beyond the quirky and gutsy heritage and it now becoming just another corporate giant.
This is also something to worry about in personal assistants: They may not be designed for you, the user, but instead could be for advertisers who bid the highest, or other company agendas.
In this case, the Alexa team showed more guts in favoring the user over their legal department. Advantage: Amazon.