IT developments

What computers can do: four astonishing links

…and two really entertaining ones. Well, if you share my sense of humor, that is ;-). Computers from a different side.

Springtime. Conference season is still in full swing. For those writing blog posts now and then, this means getting back to “hunting and gathering” ;-). Going hunting for inspiring new links – and gathering new contacts. I managed to hunt some down (links, not contacts).

Some of them took me completely by surprise – I had not seen them before. Others I already knew about, but they fit well and struck a chord with me because they touch on a topic that was subject of an engaged debate in the office last week:

Will we ever be able to get customs declarations done with three clicks?

Why we discussed this question is a topic for another time (after all, it’s springtime now, not harvest time). I myself rather wonder about it: if it’s possible with three clicks, then one click will be sufficient at some point, too. And whether we will really need that last one then…? Hold on, I’ll quickly ask the computer – “Computer says ‘no’ – Little Britain”.

OK, admittedly, it takes a special kind of humor to appreciate the comedy. But somehow, there is also reason for the laughter to stick in one’s throat… The role of the travel agent, who solely relies on the computer for questions about train destinations, seems retrospectively almost prophetic… or should I say apocalyptic?

Anyway: Let’s ask the computer, what computers are already capable of today.

Without (much) further ado, here are the links to the results of my personal trophy hunting at www.spread-festival.de:

  • (Granted…), a bit of a nerdy website on the topic of “deep learning” that shows what machines are capable of learning independently already today: www.tensorflow.org
  • An example from advertising demonstrates semi-artificial intelligence – as I would call it – taking complex decisions in the artificially intelligent poster. Much more complex actually than it would be required for a customs declaration…
  • The quality of computer-based image analysis is well-known nowadays (despite visual search engines still being only at the “baby-step stage”). But I didn’t know about “WordsEye” yet: it’s somehow an extreme twist of the concept “computer paints picture in words”. Just tell this processor what your vision of a picture looks like – and it will paint it for you.
  • OK, WordsEye’s baby steps are far from reaching a toddler’s stride. And whether IT will ever be able to create art is yet another topic… Wait a second, let me ask the computer about it. No again? I guess computers can be mistaken – just take a look at this.

Let’s not go into whether this isn’t art yet or whether it’s no longer art… It’s all rather impressive either way. And also somewhat relevant to answer the question of how many clicks a customs declaration will still require…

As usual: I welcome any opinions and links on social media –  Right here (on XING), or here (on LinkedIn).


P.S.: If you enjoyed the humorous short films from Little Britain, you can find all episodes of the legendary cult series “computer says ‘no’” here. Funnily enough, this version shows Swedish sub-titles – which grants me an elegant transition to the commercial break: AEB can now also be found at www.aeb.com/se – in Swedish.

P.P.S.: Stay with the short film until the end. It’s good fun to see to what the computer will eventually not respond “no” to.