Every sci-fi movie about inventions rising up to take over the world is built upon one unchangeable seed crystal: the moment when the technology does something its inventors never predicted. As The Verge reports, that's exactly what happened to Google engineers in 2010, with a truth-and-justice twist — Google's AdWords software exposed a Chinese car theft scam.
AdWords is Google's moneymaker, using your web surfing habits to beam custom-tailored advertising into your browser. To prevent these ads from tailspinning into a spamfest, AdWords uses an algorithm to filter out ads for counterfeit items or phishing sites. But as the story explains, after an update in 2010, AdWords began flagging run-of-the-mill Chinese used car ads. Google engineers were perplexed — the system was meant to block ads for counterfeit handbags, not Hondas.