Sunday, January 4, 2015
beached and other mysteries
Here at the start of a whole other year my friends have made it safely ashore. It was touch and go for a while what with the oars having been lost in the maelstrom - which you may remember, but if not:
Anyway, we'll have to wait to see what happens next to our intrepid pair and those who pay such close attention to them. What could they all be up to?
Speaking of ongoing mysteries, there's an intriguing case across the street where a small apartment building has appeared to be largely uninhabited for all of the past few years we've lived here. From the end room of our place we can see the long side of the building where there are never any lights on any of its three floors. Rarely, there'll be a window lit in one room or another at the streetfront, although never for long. In winter the sidewalk is cleared and a little smoke sometimes rises from a chimney. We've never seen a 'for rent' sign or evidence of tenants. With no further evidence than this (and our active imaginations) we've come to conclusion the place is inhabited by a wealthy recluse.
At least one mystery that's confounded a number of us in the online community does seem to have a solution as described in this fascinating excerpt from an article called Ai Weiwei is Living in Our Future:
Very recently I found another way in which Google appropriates my pattern recognition abilities to further its own cause. I had to fill in a ‘CAPTCHA’.
CAPTCHA’s are used to battle spambots. By recognizing a pattern that isn’t easy to read for a computer, you are proving that you are a human. Millions of CAPTCHA’s are filled in every hour. Luis von Ahn, a computer scientist, didn’t want to waste this cognitive capacity and invented the ‘reCAPTCHA’.
Through typing in hard to read words you helped to digitize newspaper archives and books. You always had to type in two words: one that the computer would already know and another which the computer would be a bit uncertain about. Google bought reCAPTCHA in 2009.
A short while ago I noticed that you didn’t have to type in book texts anymore when filling in a reCAPTCHA. Nowadays you type in house numbers helping Google, without them asking you, to further digitize the physical world.
Perhaps there is information about that place across the street, but personally, I prefer it remains a mystery. I stopped using Google for general searches in favor of DuckDuckGo several years ago, but Blogger is Google based so there's no getting around that. However, as you'll see if you read the article, our ideas about personal privacy have already been superseded. George Orwell could never have imagined people would eventually line up willingly to pay Big Brother.
Of course, it amused me too when we watched a couple of episodes of 'Walking Dead' and I realized the 'zombies' likely performed for free. Humans are strange creatures as Crow has remarked at every opportunity.