Not one of the magic sisters

For various reasons, financial and wardrobe restrictions not withstanding, I tend not to attend many soirees, candlelit suppers, receptions, launches and exhibitions. I used to and I miss them, so it was very nice to be sent –  through the post mark you not online, an invitation to raise a glass to James Robertson, the newly appointed writer in residence for our course.

Apart from the staggeringly bad canapes that looked as though even Iceland (not the country) had refused them for their frozen dinner pack – 6 courses for 16 people for only £3.99, the evening was most enjoyable. There was a limited range of drinks and the only alcohol served was wine, but I manfully rose to the challenge and tried a glass of white. I used to drink wine like my life depended on it and often it did, but as I get older I find wine has become my nemesis and is guaranteed to put me in my bed for up to three days afterwards. So I allowed myself to become only marginally tipsy making sure to have the occasional glass of water to try to counter attack any possibility of drunken harpy behaviour.

Edinburgh is a small town and the six degrees of separation equation is much more like a 1.5 ratio.  Also the place is thronging with AI PhD’s. Apparently if you want to succeed in AI you go to Edinburgh or Reading – no contest there then. Having never seen the movie I still don’t really understand what Artificial Intelligence is. I think it may be funded by a covert US government body with links to Skynet and off-world mining, but other than that it is completely mystifying to me. It would seem to be a wierd hybrid blend of physics and maths with statistics, talking computers and puppy dog tails thrown in for good measure; in other words – boy stuff.

The two directors of an AI company based here in Edinburgh were in attendance at the reception and apart from being good fun and super brainy, they are involved in digital fiction and alternative reality games. I am just discovering and learning about this and the project they are working on for release later this year sounds really exciting.

If that wasn’t cool enough, one of the boys has the best name in fiction – Joe Halliwell. I can’t wait to use that name! Joe was politely trying to explain more about interactive fiction, in particular a game called Galatea by Emily Short. He handed me a device which may have been an iPhone or a funky calculator to let me try the game for myself, but I wasn’t really sure how to work the aforementioned device. Nervous about looking like a technology Neanderthal,  I grabbed David Bishop thinking he would save the situation or at the very least change the subject to something I can talk about. Like brands of gin, skincare products, shoes … or The West Wing.

David tried to teach the game how to say ‘Fxxk Off’ so was no help whatsoever.

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2 thoughts on “Not one of the magic sisters

  1. Nice to meet you too!

    > I think [AI] may be funded by a covert US government body with links to Skynet and off-world mining.

    As it happens, one of our employees used to work for Skynet – this version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skynet_(satellites)

    > A wierd hybrid blend of physics and maths with statistics, talking computers and puppy dog tails thrown in for good measure.

    That’s about spot on. You take maths, logic, linguistics, philosophy, and psychology. And then you use it to make a spam filter. Or a self-propelled hoover. Or Google search. Usually it’s subtle behind-the-scenes stuff. But you’ll be pleased to know there are also big walking robots (http://www.winterwell.com/company/news/index.php#bigdog) and self-driving cars.

    Re. the name Joe Halliwell – you know Joe Orton was killed by Ken Halliwell, right? People used to think he’d made the name up.

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