Tue, 09 Sep 2003

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the tower of babble

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A script that translates a phrase through several different languages before retranslating it back into English: "Lost in Translation"

If you're fortunate enough to be running MacOS X, a standalone (well, not really, since you still need access to Babelfish) application is available: Babelizer for OSX. OK, it's not exactly the same thing. This just translates a phrase back and forth between English and a language of your choice until the phrase stops mutating.

17:39:09 9 Sep 2003 > /computers/AI > permalink > 0 comments

Mon, 01 Sep 2003

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targetted advertising

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Now, I don't know if this is really targeted advertising, but the ads on amazon.com do tend to shadow whatever it is I have purchased or I have searched for, for example Basic Flight Physiology, given my recent obsession with space medicine.

But then, the second ad on my home page is for the Anna Kournikova Molded Multiway Sports Bra. First off, I was shocked (in a ha-ha funny way) that the tagline for this ad is "Because the only thing that should bounce is the ball." Besides mixing borderline transgendered metaphors (boobs? balls?!), it made me ponder just exactly the kind of in-roads Fox TV has made in our culture. It is now perfectly OK to say things like "ass" and "piss" in cartoons, much less prime time. You can refer to the penis as a "wiener." You can make jokes about clitorises (hmmm, is this Latin? Should it be clitores?)

But back to the point. I was secondly insulted. What is Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com trying to tell me? That I need a bra? That I'm a fucking fat ass with (to steal a phrase from Chuck Palahniuk) "bitch tits"? That I'm a raging alcoholic with severe cirrhosis to the point that I have gynecomastia? Bastards!! (OK, OK, maybe I should cut down on the cimetidine. And the Stoli martinis. Damn. Now I'm really self-conscious.)

At least amazon.com doesn't sell dildoes. (Not "your dildo." "A dildo." Anyway. That's from "Fight Club" [entry on imdb.com][Project Mayhem])

14:07:58 1 Sep 2003 > /computers/AI > permalink > 0 comments

Sat, 23 Aug 2003

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the gender genie

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Supposedly, this script can tell whether the writer is male or female. Details of the algorithm can be found on nature.com.

The results, however, are not encouraging, given that it is right only 50% of the time. I tried plugging in some of my old blog entries into the script, and it was right about "kid a" by radiohead but wrong about But Now What?. I also plugged in one of R's blog entries (sorry! I couldn't resist! I hope you don't mind!) and the script got it right.

Interesting thought, though. If the script actually worked, you could use it to guess the gender of an anonymous blogger. Heh.

Ken (aka 1moredork online) experiments with the Gender Genie. (Link from littleyellowdifferent.com)

And I was highly amused by Ken's comment.

16:22:46 23 Aug 2003 > /computers/AI > permalink > 0 comments

Sun, 17 Aug 2003

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pervasive advertising

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Do you remember that scene from "Minority Report" where ads would pop-up directly targeting Tom Cruise whenever he would pass by the hot spot?

The technology to do this is probably already here. It's just about deployment now. First, there is Counter-Googling (link from popdex.com), where, because of blogging, people are voluntarily pumping large amounts of data about their private life and preferences, and companies can easily harvest potential targets. Then there is the fact that I feel like the wireless revolution is finally in full swing, with the cel phone/PDA convergence rapidly occurring and actually becoming practical, while Bluetooth and 802.11b is being deployed in real-life, and sometimes large scale applications. The idea of pervasive computing is easily possible, with persistent connectivity to the net, whether through 802.11b and public access hotspots, or perhaps through GSM/GPRS. Text messaging is finally taking off in the U.S. (whereas in Asia, even 5 years ago, it was already ubiquitous, existing even in developing nations like the Philippines.) Imagine if the utilities stuck 802.11b access point/routers or cel phone towers at key locations, even underground in subway systems, on freeways, in public parks.

Of course, it would have to withstand the apparent economic disincentive for providing these kind of luxuries. I mean, if corporations have no desire to update the electrical infrastructure, we could be at the onset of a technological counter-revolution, but instead of the people rising up against the corporations, like the Luddites, it's the corporations that are holding the people down.

15:22:06 17 Aug 2003 > /computers/AI > permalink > 0 comments