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Chapter 51. Wizard Widgets > Dumb Terminals

Dumb Terminals

Computers do not think, of course. Even the best so-called machine intelligence is nothing more than human intelligence behind a scrim of pixels and megabytes. None of the current crop of “smart” widgets has an AIQ (Artificial Intelligence Quotient) above zero. The intelligence, if it can be whimsically called that, is faked. One usability cabalist talking about “seductive interfaces” at a recent conference said it was even possible to “simulate real intimacy” with intelligent user interfaces. It's not hard to do, he assured the audience, “You know, just like you do with your wife.” His wife, maybe.

It is possible that we've already come to accept mechanical and manufactured “intimacy” as real. Letters and birthday cards and advertisements are “personalized” by machine. Most of us have received one of those photocopied advertisements with a yellow sticky-note slapped on at a casual angle: “Larry, thought you'd find this interesting, J.” Everyone knows someone whose name starts with J, so we're supposed to assume this is a personal recommendation from a friend or acquaintance, when it's really just another mass-produced promotion.


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