The Public Eye

printed 07/24/2020

People struggling to find the time to worry about one more thing can at least strike this concern from the list of possibilities: Global rule by artificial intelligence.

Although once warned about that by the late physicist Stephen Hawking, the world record holder for being smart, I can give you two solid reasons not to sweat it:

1. Being ruled by any kind of intelligence, artificial or otherwise, would be an improvement.

2. Our artificial intelligence programs have a long, long way to go before they switch from taking orders to giving orders.

I say this after receiving some email news bulletins that were apparently snatched and grabbed from legitimate news providers, translated via a computer program for distribution in Turkmenistan or someplace, and then re-translated back into English by this same algorithm for redistribution to people like me.

Here’s an actual item I received — really — from something called the Press Insider Daily. See if you can spot the translation problems. I have added footnotes for clarity.

“Ocean City, MD — Three more eating places in Ocean Metropolitan, Maryland, have quickly shut right after staff analyzed for the coronavirus.”

1. Clearly, some outfit needs to take its news-stealing/translating algorithm in for an oil change and a tune-up.

“In a Facebook put up Saturday night, officers from Dry Dock 28 and Buxy’s Salty Canine Saloon announced they would near until finally 11 a.m. Wednesday soon after a team member examined optimistic for the coronavirus.”

2. Salty Canine? Never mind being optimistically examined, just be happy this program didn’t come up with a colloquial version of Buxy’s Salty Female Dog Saloon.

Here’s the final paragraph, which I will now reveal was stolen by this computer-run story aggregator from WJZ TV in Baltimore:

“Soon following Dry Dock 28 designed its announcement, Blu Crabhouse and Uncooked Bar explained it would be closed right until even more detect following one particular staff tested positive for covid-19. Others are waiting around for check benefits.”

3. Raw bar, Uncooked Bar. I’d say that lost something in translation, but maybe that’s just me. As for those others waiting around for check benefits, go home. It will be in the mail.

This is not the only example of a hijacked story that found its way into my mailbox courtesy of this artificial dissemination, and I have to say I kind of enjoyed this one for its descriptive language.

Here’s what it should have said, “Another tropical depression is developing in the Gulf of Mexico…”

What it really said is, “In the Gulf of Mexico, there is the fashioning of a tropical melancholy …”

You know what’s really dumb about this example of artificial intelligence? It’s the fact that it saw the need to translate English into English, after a fashion. My guess is they’re probably laughing in Turkmenistan too.

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