Yes Dear

“The whole point of AI –“

“Is being able to ignore your wife without being caught.”


“Think about it, the Turing test isn’t really designed to see if a computer can pass as a human or not. It’s there to see if you can convincingly feign attention to a conversation.”

“That’s not the point”

“OK, to be fair the early ones weren’t great at it. There was a prototype bot that would just say ‘yes dear’ regardless of what you said to it, but they’ve been making great strides.”

“I think your wife would notice pretty fast if you were doing something else and getting a chatbot to talk to her.”

“Well, duh. But it’s fine on video calls. We don’t even have to bother with the video – we just fake the bandwidth dropping until the image freezes, and then you can run it with voice synthesis.”

“The greatest minds of our age are concentrating on ways to not have to listen to their wives over Skype?”

“No, don’t make it sound so awful. It’s open sourced – they want to enable everyone to avoid having to listen to their wives.”

“Phelps is making stuff up again” said Nina. “Or rather, not paying attention to what’s happening. You have to give him some credit though, it is all about the bandwidth.”

“The bandwidth?” I asked.

“Is there an echo in here or do you just like repeating what I say? Yes, the bandwidth. Skype has predictive speech built into it now, so that when the bandwidth drops, you don’t notice because the conversation continues – the Skypebot will just predict what the other person would have said to you, and then splice that into the stream.”

“Yes, but then if the bandwidth is bad, the other person can’t hear anything either.”

“Yes, but. You have a Skypebot on either end doing the prediction. So that way the whole conversation stays in sync. Simple.”

“How can you be so sure they’ll stay in sync? Surely you’d need more bandwidth to feed the information back to somewhere else to make predictions than – “

“You really don’t understand information theory, do you Wong?”

Phelps guffawed. “You do realise that the main application is just for the husband and the wife to simultaneously ignore one another?”

“Yeah, they’re outsourcing their marriage. Like, wow, I’m so amazed by that innovation.” Nina sneered and then stood up. “See you geniuses later.”


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