Take Yelp as an example. My husband and I were out cruising around Chicago a week ago and got hungry. It happens. We used Yelp to find a nearby burger joint that had a few hundred 4.5 star ratings.
The place was junk. What we didn’t count on was the dining sensibilities and experience of the reviewers. Clearly, those reviewers had an understanding of what constitutes a good burger joint that clearly was different than ours.
I bring this up because our iPhones are littered with applications that review, categorize, rate, and rank various and sundry products; from an iPhone vs. a Google Pixel 3a to $30 earbuds vs AirPods to brands. Even Google is in on the act of rankings and ratings.
The company is trotting out an update to Google Maps that uses machine learning to highlight the popular dishes at an eatery. Tap on a place and it’ll show the most popular meals in the overview section, with the menu tab showing the most discussed options.
Sounds useful, right?
The problem remains the same. What you don’t get from such rankings and reviewers is knowledge about their experience level, their tastes, and how they compare to your own. All this machine learning and artificial intelligence can’t put two and two together.
That explains why some apps get 5-star reviews but they actually crummy apps when viewed and reviewed by someone with experience and understanding of what constitutes a good application. Amazon has a similar problem.
Have you noticed how many products have hundreds or thousands of 4 and 5 star reviews and few have 2 or 3 star reviews?
Why is that?
Also, why is it that once I buy something from Amazon they think I’m starting a collection? I bought a pair of boots to muck around in my parent’s garden, and started receiving email from Amazon with more boots. I needed a pair of boots, Amazon; I’m not starting a collection of boots.
But I digress.
Here’s another issue that bugs me to death. On Google’s popular dishes ratings:
The feature is available now for Maps users on Android. The iOS crowd will have to be patient — it’s deploying to Apple devices in the “coming months.”
I get it. Google works on Android first.
Hey, Google. If you want me to use your apps don’t make me feel like a second class citizen just because I chose a different platform.
Even Apple is in on the ratings and rankings game. Apps on both iOS and macOS App Stores come with ratings. What we don’t know about the reviewers is their experience or understanding of the platform or how the app should be used.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence ain’t gonna fix that.