Two years ago, I met Eugene Goostman, a guinea pig-owning, 13-year-old boy living in Odessa, Ukraine. Now this quirky character – in fact a software chatbot – is making headlines with the claim that on Saturday, he became the first piece of software to pass the Turing test, the most famous test of machine intelligence.
Eugene, created by Vladimir Veselov, who was born in Russia and now lives in the US, and Ukrainian-born Eugene Demchenko who now lives in Russia, is certainly a clever, not to mention funny, piece of software. And it did fool 33 per cent of the people he chatted with into thinking Eugene was human. But here are a few reasons why the result may not be the milestone it seems to be.
It’s ridiculous. I could tell it was a bot in three questions. I asked it a question about Odessa, which it had mentioned in the first response, and it claimed ignorance of Odessa in the third reply. This might be characteristic of a 13-year-old who isn’t listening because he’s playing Watch Dogs, but A) that’s not an impressive demonstration of AI, and B) he shouldn’t be playing Watch Dogs at that age. Try it yourself.
Elsewhere, corporate Twitter accounts are being scrutinized because they are . . . unnerving. By which the author means “they give the illusion of familiarity but lack the ability to personally comfort you in times of need. Really.
In 2014, high-profile corporate voices on Twitter can be as casual, playful, and sometimes intimate as an individual user’s — and often more so. “~draw me like one of your French toasts~” the chain restaurant Denny’s coos from its Twitter account, raking in thousands of faves and retweets. The tweet is funny, a kind of Twitter humor tour de force that remixes a relevant social-media meme with a comforting Denny’s menu item.
And that’s that, right? There’s nothing more to be said. Well-played, Denny’s; aside from the people in the comments who will no doubt insist the company is run by the Klan, we can move along - hold on, no, there’s more.
At the same time, upon reading perfectly casual and on-meme corporate tweets like these in my Twitter timeline, I’ve begun to feel discomfited. To be perfectly honest, I feel unsettled, even usurped or displaced, by corporations’ perfectly on-point social-media voice.
Because Denny’s made a “Titanic” joke.
It isn’t enough for Denny’s to own the diners, it wants in on our alienation from power, capital, and adulthood too. While we giggle at corporate #weirdtwitter tweets, the corporate invulnerability that makes them easy to follow is also what makes their assumption of a human, familiar voice feel, despite our laughter and faves, cold and a bit pathological.
It’s a Denny’s Twitter account. For that matter, it’s a Twitter account. Expect nothing of it.
URBANISM View all 467 replies! Gizmodo uses the Google Time Machine to show how San Francisco is changing, and people are arguing about turning old, abandoned neighborhoods into shiny, stable, residential neighborhoods where condos and apartments replace empty lots. If you want a local version, check out the comments on this building. It’s one thing to criticize the building’s style, but there are folks who are just . . . angry at the presumption that people want to live downtown. As for the style:
It doesn't have any. Although the article says: "The building will have some unique design features, including an above-grade parking garage that will be wrapped in a shimmering double layer of perforated metal screen."
If it shimmers, thanks to embedded motors that cause the facade to undulate gently like sails in the breeze, great, but I doubt that’s the case.
It’s good to see the block filled; beats a parking lot. Perhaps the economics of the site meant it had to fill out the space entirely with no setbacks, and it’s possible the lower-level parking ramp’s lack of windows will impart a sense of urban compression to the street, and WHO AM I KIDDING? I’m making excuses for what appears to be a dull tower that wandered in from an LA suburb c. 1967. Better than nothing - but it seems like another missed opportunity.