The Verge 2017 tech report card in Google

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The world was kind of a crappy place in 2017, especially online. Google, as a company, needs to do a better job dealing with that.

Google is doing so much that it can be a little difficult for any one thing to break through as the primary narrative for the company, something to move it beyond just search. Apple and Samsung make mostly hardware, but Google seems to be trying to do everything. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has decided what he’d like that primary to be — the expansion of AI and Machine Learning into every corner of the world — but damned reality keeps upending that narrative.

These realities sometimes undercut Google’s self-image as an AI powerhouse. The biggest example was the rash of fake news stories that appeared at the top of Google’s “Top Stories” carousel, which effectively gave those false stories a patina of Google approval. You’d like to think a company that prides itself on algorithms wouldn’t allow them to fail so badly and so dangerously. The company also failed to adequately protect children from both watching or being made to participate in some supremely sketchy YouTube videos.