As usual, while TS makes a serious and well-intentioned sharing about iPads and new Artificial Intelligence engines, I go off on an irreverent off-tangent:
[Addendum: Here is the shared article from TS about iPads and the new A.I. engine:
Marvin is a New eBook Reader App with Artificial Intelligence
Marvin, the Paranoid Android and “maniacally depressed robot”, the epitome of A.I. and probably my favourite character from Douglas Adams:
Marvin, the Paranoid Android, is a fictional character in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. Marvin is the ship’s robot aboard the starship Heart of Gold. Originally built as a failed prototype of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation’s GPP (Genuine People Personalities) technology, Marvin is afflicted with severe depression and boredom, in part because he has a “brain the size of a planet” which he is seldom, if ever, given the chance to use. Indeed, the true horror of Marvin’s existence is that no task he could be given would occupy even the tiniest fraction of his vast intellect. Marvin claims he is 50,000 times more intelligent than a human, (or 30 billion times more intelligent than a live mattress) though this is, if anything, a vast underestimation.
A Marvin quote:
“Simple. I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself in to its external computer feed. I talked to the computer at great length and explained my view of the Universe to it,” said Marvin.
“And what happened?” pressed Ford.
“It committed suicide,” said Marvin and stalked off back to the Heart of Gold.
Now the world has gone to bed
Darkness won’t engulf my head
I can see by infra-red
How I hate the night
Now I lay me down to sleep
Try to count electric sheep
Sweet dream wishes you can keep
How I hate the night
But wait, Marvin can only be my second most favourite character from Douglas Adams; my favourite Adams character will have to be the one and only, Agrajag or more famously know as the “Oh no, not again” bowl of petunias:
Agrajag is a piteous creature that is continually reincarnated and subsequently killed, each time unknowingly, by Arthur Dent. Agrajag is first identified in the novel Life, the Universe and Everything, but it is revealed that several of Arthur’s encounters in the first and second novels (and in previous chapters of the third) were with previous incarnations of Agrajag. The first occurs in the novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, when a bowl of petunias is suddenly yanked into existence miles above the planet Magrathea, and begins falling, having only time to think, “Oh no, not again,” before crashing to the ground. The reason behind the bowl’s lament is revealed in the novel Life, the Universe and Everything, when Agrajag identifies the bowl of petunias as one of his prior incarnations, and tells Arthur that he had seen his face in a spaceship window as he fell to his doom.
Very cute picture of a plush, stuffed and lovingly crocheted Agrajag/bowl of petunias with his equally pitiable companion, the flying sperm whale:
[crochet pic from http://www.flickriver.com/groups/do-not-panic/pool/interesting/]
“But where are we?” said Ford who was sitting on the spiral staircase, a nicely chilled Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster in his hand.
“Exactly where we were, I think…” said Trillian, as all about them the mirrors showed them an image of the blighted landscape of Magrathea which still scooted along beneath them.
Zaphod leapt out of his seat.
“Then what’s happened to the missiles?” he said.
A new and astounding image appeared in the mirrors.
“They would appear,” said Ford doubtfully, “to have turned into a bowl of petunias and a very surprised looking whale…”
Another thing that got forgotten was the fact that against all probability a sperm whale had suddenly been called into existence several miles above the surface of an alien planet.
And since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity as a whale before it then had to come to terms with not being a whale any more.
This is a complete record of its thoughts from the moment it began its life till the moment it ended it.
Ah!.. What’s happening? it thought. Er, excuse me, who am I? Hello? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I?
Calm down, get a grip now…oh! this is an interesting sensation, what is it? It’s a sort of…yawning, tingling sensation in my…my…well I suppose I’d better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for the sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let’s call it my stomach.
Good. Ooooh, it’s getting quite strong. And hey, what’s about this whistling roaring sound going past what I’m suddenly going to call my head? Perhaps I can call that…wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do…perhaps I can find a better name for it later when I’ve found out what it’s for. It must be something very important because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it. Hey! What’s this thing? This…let’s call it a tail — yeah, tail. Hey! I can can really thrash it about pretty good can’t I? Wow! Wow! That feels great! Doesn’t seem to achieve very much but I’ll probably find out what it’s for later on. Now — have I built up any coherent picture of things yet?
Never mind, hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, I’m quite dizzy with anticipation…
Or is it the wind?
There really is a lot of that now isn’t it?
And wow! Hey! What’s this thing suddenly coming towards me very fast? Very very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like…ow…ound…round…ground! That’s it! That’s a good name — ground!
I wonder if it will be friends with me?
And the rest, after a sudden wet thud, was silence.
Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the universe than we do now.
Sperm Whale and Bowl of Petunias: