Tag Archive for Siri

Ambiguity of Natural Language and Computer Language Interpretation

Bad Cop Good Cop Language Abmiguity

In his book “The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature”, Steven Pinker gave the following defense of language ambiguity: Imagine you are stopped by a traffic cop for a violation. You would rather not get a ticket, and consider offering the cop a bribe. You have options: no bribe and definitely get the ticket; try a bribe and hopefully the cop will accept and let you go free this time. But what if the cop is an honest cop and doesn’t accept bribes? Then you just bought yourself a trip to jail for bribing an officer! That’s the worst possible outcome — a traffic ticket is better than a trip to jail AND a traffic ticket. But what if you just “sort of” offer the officer a bribe? Wave a wad of cash without actually offering it to the officer? A dishonest cop might take you up on the offer and let you go without a ticket. An honest cop could ignore the whole cash waving and write a ticket; or he could ask for clarification: “Are you trying to bribe me?” “On, no, officer. Of course not!” And you are left with a traffic ticket…

Special Preview: Affective Computing

Pong Interface

Some 25 years ago, I came up with tiny application: each day, a person picks a color that represents his or her predominant emotional state; the collection of color moods are mapped onto a calendar and displayed as an animated film, summarizing the emotional life of person. It was simple and easy and very effective. And in some way, this was also part of the affective computing — computers that use emotion as part of HCI. [Note: This could and was done with watercolors as flip book some 40 years ago when I played in my art class in school.] Affective Computing, I feel, is only recently became part of the “vocabulary” of computer-based developers. When I first started working in this field, graphics were non-existent, thus Pong. In the early nineties, my business partner and I met with the president of Organic, a web design firm in San Francisco, who promptly informed us that his business had no need for Interaction or Interface Designers, that’s what graphic artists were for. Now, psychologists, sociologists, and sociologists are routinely hired by creative firms to help solve design problems. Times change! There are a lot of posts on emotional design on this…