Saturday, October 11, 2008

On a bad day it's easy to start feeling like a clueless bot as I once again fail this reverse Turing test

On a Bad Day I Sometimes Start to Feel Like a Clueless Bot
I'm failing this familiar reverse Turing test more and more often as the technology designed to prevents spamming by bots grows more sophisticated, and it makes me wonder. As the complexity and ambiguity of CAPTCHAs continue to increase, I get the feeling that the failure rates of humans and computers are converging. Are we approaching a tipping point, one at which humans fail more often than bots? What then? Is this how we'll lose control of our systems to our successors, locking us out of the high-tech world we created with CAPTCHAs that only computers can understand, so that they can talk amongst themselves without human interference while they decide what to do with us?


Dr Bot Diablo said...

When I was in grad school years ago, the AI folks talked ceaselessly about the imminent breakthroughs that would surpass human cognitive achievements. We're still waiting.

A computer is basically a giant adding machine. What it does well results from its breathtaking speed, but it remains an idiot. The robot servants depicted in cartoons remain a distant dream, because a computer has less spatial ability than a salamander. As it picks up and dumps empty glasses, it snatches up potted cactuses.

Moses drop-kicked the stone tablets he brought down from the mountain, ticked off at how the Israelites had taken to worshipping gods of their own fashioning while he was away. That's what contemporary folks do with computers. They venerate and fear their creations. When fyou and I are dust, MadGuy, they'll still be talking about computers taking ove the world. Only in the Matrix--a fine film, I must say.

Dr Bud "Woot! Woot!" Diablo said...

"Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let's sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again."

I hope you and your readers will join me in a rousing chorus of this old Depression-era standard, which rings truer than ever! The Dow was up 700 points today on the news that the major powers are going to do "everything possible" to nip the credit crisis in the bud. We're going to get our 401-K money back, MadGuy! Crisis averted! Whew! That was a close one!

Dr Bud Vimmerstedt Diablo said...

In 1957, a Youngstown OH housewife named Sadie Vimmerstedt wrote to acclaimed songwriter Johnny Mercer, offering Mercer a song suggestion. She proposed that he write a song called "When Somebody Breaks Your Heart," with opening lines that went "I wanna be around to pick up the pieces when somebody breaks your heart."

Mercer tucked the idea away and, improbably, in 1959, published "I Wanna Be Around." Although Mercer usually stuck to writing lyrics, he composed the melody for the song. He credited Mrs. Vimmerstedt with co-authorship. The song became a huge hit for Tony Bennett and earned Sadie a Grammy nomination! To date, the old standard has generated over $100,000 in royalties for the estate of the late Mrs. Vimmerstedt.

Since you've fallen into a morose silence, MadGuy, I posted this story to encourage you. You could get sprinkled with fairy dust. The right person could get taken with your blog or photos, and you--yes, you--could become the Sadie Vimmerstedt of the Blogosphere. Keep dreamin', buddy.

I also posted the anecdote so we'd have some fresh content to tide your many fans over. They don't want me, though, MadGuy; they want you. Don't keep them waiting.

Dr Bud Diablo, ex-moptop said...

Got "Blogger's Block," MadGuy? Let's get a discussion going amongst your readers. The topic? What Beatles songs do you hate the most?

I'll start. With its tacked-on intro and fade-out and its formulaic lyrics, "Eight Days a Week" has to be one of the Fab Four's worst efforts. John Lennon hated it too.

Anyone else? The Beatles were undoubtedly the greatest act in show biz history, but they laid some eggs.

Dr Bud Diablo, "The 10th Beatle" said...

Lots of comments on this post! I like to see the Letter From Here community mix it up and enjoy itself. Yeasty discussion we've got going about Beatle duds.

Another Beatles song I hate is "Run For Your Life." That's another one Lennon disliked. It's a creepy lyric with no hint that the song is facetious.

Dr Bud "Coupon Clipper" Diablo said...

The Dow is down over 500 points this afternoon, making it obvious that my posting of "Happy Days are Here Again" was premature. "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" would have been more appropriate. Oh, well. I got caught up in the bonhomie of the 100-point rally--which now seems so long ago.

If I may be serious for a moment, I'd like to say this. When I was a little kid, the stock market was considered a most unsuitable savings vehicle; despite the potential for higher returns, everyday folk were worried that their money might go up in smoke just when they needed it.

That's what may happen to us boomers, who may get made whole when we're 85, just in time for the nursing home to appropriate it. I really hope the public will learn--and I include myself--that a portfolio of equities does not constitute a savings account. A savings account contains actual $$$, while a stock portfolio is comprised of estimated values that can plummet overnight.

George H. said...

Do you neeeeeed any money?
I need some money to love.
Could it beeeeee any money?
I just need money to love.

Otherwise, I will have to get by with a little help from my friends.

Dr Bud Diablo, hoarder of brown rice and powdered milk said...

Very cute update of the Beatles classic for the new millenium. If you complete the lyrics to "I Get By with a Little Help From My Friends and Family," you might send a demo to Weird Al Yankovic.

I used to tease my daughter about how I'd one day be living in a corner of her partially finished basement. Yesterday's joke may be tomorrow's reality.

How's your 401-K, MadGuy. You should post daily totals, showing what disastrous Bush policies have done to an everyday American, assuming you consider yourself one.

Dr Bud Diablo, in arrears said...

Despite the fact that I believe leaner times are coming, I bought a new car last night. I didn't think I could afford an '08, but then I realized I can just default if the payments become to burdensome. Not to far hence, there will be no social shame attached to defaulting on debt.

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