Unless you're not a human being at all, but in fact a not-particularly-convincing automaton, you can't have failed to notice that a computer has supposedly become the first device to pass the Turing test.
The chatbot, named Eugene Goostman, recently reportedly conned about a third of assessors into thinking it was the 13-year-old Ukrainian boy its creators had designed it to mimic. Some have poured a fairly high level of scorn on suggestions that the programme could actually have passed a test with any real rigour. And, having read some of the conversations Master Goostman has mustered up, it's easy to see their point.
I've had more convincing offers instructing me to send a cheque for $5,000, so as to liberate my $11m winnings from a Panamanian lottery I didn't know I'd entered. Even allowing for the fact that the bot is deliberately designed to have the spelling, vocabulary, syntax, and grammar of a 13-year-old non-English-speaker, his speech is peppered with non sequiturs that are, at best, a tad obtuse and, at worst, really ruddy weird. (Though, admittedly, none of this much distinguishes him from most of my sales team).
Though there is the odd pearl in among his automated witterings. "Be optimistic," he urged MIT computer science professor Scott Aaronson. "Artificial intelligence and natural stupidity, being combined, will lead this world to fantastic future!"
Speaking of sophisticated computer-type stuff, you can't go five minutes these days without hearing news of some development in the field of smart technology. But I must confess, dear reader, that I'm largely indifferent to all the many much-vaunted examples to date; smartwatches, smart fridges, smart cars - they all leave me cold.
But this week brought word of a breakthrough that has really captured my imagination: smart khazis.
Heathrow Terminal 2 has recently put in sensors at loos across the building. The natty devices help cleaners keep track of when the facilities need a spruce-up by letting them know when a certain number of people have used them. Although, in my experience, the key factor here is not how many people have used a toilet before you, but rather which people have done so. (Shirl - I'm looking at you. Especially since you went on that Atkins diet...)
The technology can reportedly track which units are used more than others, and direct users to those that are empty. Over time, they can also track which bogs are typically over-subscribed, and which are being overlooked.
I'm loving this development, and am thinking of installing this gear at Dodgi Towers. I've always suspected that Gord uses my executive washroom whenever I'm away on business, and I've long wanted to bring him to justice. But I haven't been able to keep a log.
Template of doom
I discovered this week that Cisco has a set of dos and don'ts for ISVs wishing to issue a press release related to a progression in their partnership with the networking goliath.
The vendor asks that new members of its Solution Partner Programme fill in the blanks on a template provided and submit a draft to Cisco's PR team about 10 days before they wish to issue it to the fourth estate. So far, so stringent.
And it gets worse: it turns out new partners have a list of words it is verboten to use in their ‘About Company X' shtick at the bottom of the release. These include: alliance; strategic alliance; leverage; dominate and dominance; certified; and first, best, first to market, best in class, only, approved, and authorised.
Phew. That's an awful lot of the IT channel's favourite words ruled out in one fell swoop. And partners are also warned that "forward-looking statements about what [their] solution will do in the future should be avoided".
Thankfully I'm not a Cisco partner, so can press on with my media release about my strategic alliance with the vendor which will see me leverage my dominance of the Barking and Dagenham area IT market to become certified as the first to market with the first, best, and only approved and authorised solution of its kind. A solution that, in the future, will be able to reverse man-made climate change, eliminate all corruption from world football, and clone Graham Gooch.
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