“I came downstairs the other morning and it was just there, standing in the living room next to my laptop,” twenty seven year old Santa Ana resident Jeff Wock told the Orange County Weekly Advertiser, describing the sinister metal humanoid which appeared, unheralded, in his home last week. “I was pretty freaked out – I knew I hadn’t ordered any six foot tall shiny black robots with a Google logo imprinted on their chests from Amazon. Even if I had – how did it get there? I checked and there were no signs of forced entry to the house.” The young office administrator’s initial fears over the strange automaton’s presence began to dissipate when it appeared that the machine was completely inert. “It didn’t do anything, it just stood there, giving no indication as to whether it was even activated,” he explained. “But when I tried to use my laptop, it suddenly sprang into life, snatching the computer away from me! To my amazement, it started surfing the web for me, even performing web searches! It was uncanny how it seemed to know exactly what sites I wanted to look at! Ocaissionally it would demand to know what I wanted to do online next in a raspy metallic voice, then perform another search before showing me more sites from the results.” Since then, the robot has refused to allow Wock near the keyboard of his laptop. “I’m afraid to get my smart phone out in its presence, in case it snatches that away and starts accessing the web, sending texts and making calls for me on it,” he claims. “I just can’t get rid of it – I’ve tried contacting Google, but they just say it’s all part of their drive to ‘improve the user experience’!”

Disturbingly, Wock’s experience isn’t unique, with people all over the world reporting the sudden appearance in their homes of sinister-looking Google-branded robots which completely take over all of their internet-connected technology. Following intense pressure from the media, the search giant finally addressed the issue yesterday. “The biggest problem with web search has always been the human factor,” declares Google spokesperson Ezekiel Fring at a Mountain View press conference. “People are simply unable to make logical judgements as to the quality of the sites brought up in any search result – then they blame the search engine because they end up clicking on some crappy site which infects their PC with malware or corrupts their children with porn.” The search giant’s solution has been to develop a series of new robots to carry out searches for human users. “These are autonomous units, uploaded with the latest in Artificial Intelligence, which not only will be able to type in the search terms on behalf of the searcher – using the most efficient and unambiguous wording for the query – but will also interpret the results for the user, clicking only on guaranteed high quality sites,” explains Fring. “I suppose you could say that it is an actual, physical, Googlebot!”

According to Fring the robots which have so far appeared are part of a pilot scheme designed to iron out any faults with the machines’ software. “As test subjects, we’ve selected people who always seem to have difficulties with the web – misspelt search terms, too much time looking at te ‘wrong’ sites,” he explained. “We can guarantee a much better web experience for them.” The company aims to start producing the new robots next year, with the aim of getting one into every internet-connected home and workplace within a decade. However, some of the test subjects have challenged Fring’s assertion that the robots have improved their web experience. “If this is some kind of trial, then they’ve got a lot of work to do,” Jeff Wock told his local newspaper. “Not only does the damn thing keep trying to second guess what I’m searching for and modifying my search terms, but most of the sites it insists on directing me too are either pages from Amazon or barely relevant to my original search!”

The Google spokesperson has addressed such criticisms by claiming that the robots are involved in a learning process, which gradually improve search results. “We hope that by using our machine learning technology, over time the robots will be able to predict their hosts’ search needs, carrying out searches and selecting sites before they even realise that they want to search for something,” Fring enthuses. “Think of the time they will be able to save – with the robots even typing in the search terms, people will be able to save an average of two minutes a day!” Google’s ultimate aim, apparently, is to make the search process perfect, removing any of the vagaries caused by human interaction with the search interface. “Our research has shown that the biggest problem with web searches is that, left to their own devices, people search for the wrong things,” opines Fring. “By using our robots to, quite literally, take things out of their hands, we will be able to ensure that people only use the search terms which bring up the correct type of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) – those which have a front page composed entirely of results from Amazon, eBay and YouTube, with the second page composed entirely of Blogger blogs recommending the sites on the first page, with everything surrounded by paid ads for the same sites. These are the very definition of quality results – no ropey independent sellers or information sites trying to sell you or tell you something better, cheaper or different.”

Astonishingly, Fring claims that most of the web is, in fact, a complete waste of time. “More than ninety percent of the sites out there are completely irrelevant – they aren’t selling anything. They are just full of obscure and esoteric information and opinions. Either that, or they are trying to be entertaining – if you want entertainment, watch TV,” he claims. “For God’s sake, most of them aren’t even monetized with Google ads! Why would anyone want to build a website which doesn’t make them money? More to the point, why would anyone waste time looking at them? The main reason people go online is because they want to buy something and we need to ensure our SERPs reflect this. It’s what we’ve been trying to do with our algorithm changes over the past few years, but persisted in searching wrongly, meaning these non big-business sites kept getting traffic that rightfully belonged to the likes of Amazon. The introduction of our search robots will, hopefully, correct this!”