Odious and Peculiar
Philology and esoterica: scribblings, ravings and mutterings.
O&P's Current Pick:
Friday, December 16, 2005
I'm poaching on Odious' preserves here, but he and everyone really ought to try this artificial intelligence program. It plays twenty questions with you, and it's pretty darn smart. It seems particularly sharp on animals: it got platypus and python quite efficiently, and came up with dachshund by a set of questions whose utility in guessing said object was not at all apparent to me. It has more trouble, unsurprisingly, with abstract or semi-abstract things, e.g. haiku and opera; these usually require more than twenty queries. But it's learning as people play (a little creepy, at least to me, but pretty cool too). Players should probably try to instil some decent values in it: it often asks "Does it bring joy to people?" A platypus damn well does bring joy to people, and the program had better get clear on that. (Also, a dachshund most certainly is a predator.) It gives a really interesting list of things which it suspects, but doubts about an object once the game's done. Some of its suspicions are surreal: it wonders if an opera mightn't be a purebred dog. Again, it's pretty smart: I was pleasantly surprised when, for Question #20, it correctly guessed ice axe! From the questions it was asking, I really didn't expect it to get that one.
Update: Objects it finds similar to a kiss: an ice cream sandwich, oatmeal, fudge, chili, spaghetti, alcohol.
Update: Oh, my! The A.I. doesn't have wife in its database (sad comment on our society, what? It did eventually start guessing girlfriend, boyfriend and, touchingly, soulmate), but the questions it asked as it tried to guess were hilarious in context. Gentle readers, upon my honour, the following transcript is in truth a real dialogue which took place between myself and the 20Q, in its true, original order*. Again, the scandalous answer is wife:
A.I.: Does it have paws?*Certain exchanges are omitted (including the afore-mentioned extra-marital guesses); however, the most shocking passages transpired, I swear, as written, without intermission.