Thursday, July 25, 2013

Idea for a Class Exercise: Reverse Engineering Annoying and Embedded AI Software

I initially blamed age for a sudden increase in the number of "typos" that were actually correctly spelled words, but out of context. Then I started suspecting that stupid (or rather annoying!) word completion algorithms was responsible, and recently I've started catching it. My favorite artificial intelligence (AI) gaffs are

"wild west" ended up as "mild west" (the 'w' in "wild" changed to 'm' mid-way through the phrase though I didn't correct it until I was done ripping off text)

"dinner party" ==> "sinner party"

"cutting and pasting" ==> "cussing and pasting"

These mistakes lead to funny results -- in most cases the auto-correction on various platforms is just plain screwy, and in other cases of course it works well, but these are generally cases when I've completed the word, its flagged as an incorrect spelling with red underline and there is a change. It seems like some software is just trying to be TOO proactive and TOO helpful, perhaps like some people are some of the time.

I would prefer slightly more patient AI ... AI without the emotional needs.

Having my AI students do a thought experiment, reverse engineering such software, will be a neat exercise in my AI class, I think, because while this software is really, really annoying, and just plain messed up, it (or its developers) is a lot more interesting and instructive in its neediness than I first appreciated!


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