Google Drive and Docs users found themselves unable to access some files yesterday, with Google's tools telling them that the files were blocked because they violated the apps' safety and community standards. According to a blog post from Google on the matter, the files were blocked erroneously by a community protection AI set up to watch over what files end up on Google Drive and Google Docs. Once the issue was put in front of human eyes, Google quickly corrected it, restoring access to all of the mistakenly blocked files. Google has not announced any kind of special perks for people who temporarily lost access to their files, but did promise that it would do better with screening files inside of its services in the future.
Google's blog post did not say what set the AI off or why some files were blocked and not others, but it is to be assumed that whatever it was has been fixed, since the AI has not taken the files down again after Googlers manually re-enabled access to the vast swaths of files made temporarily unavailable. Since the blocking of the files was said to be for violations of community guidelines, the AI likely saw something that set off its filter for objectionable content. Along with potentially offensive content, the system is also made to block content that may contain viruses or be otherwise subversive in nature without a downloader's knowledge.
Many of Google's services have their day to day running done by AI, with human eyes only falling on an issue if the robots cause a problem. AI may be sophisticated at this point, but the technology is far from perfect, as seen in this instance. Similar happenings have plagued Google services in the past, with YouTube being a standout example wherein the community backlash was so massive that Google was forced to not only fix the issue at hand, but tweak the entire way it went about policing content on the service. Naturally, even that solution was met with some backlash, proving that existing technologies and solutions simply aren't at a level that can satisfy everybody just yet.