Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Computers Don’t Do Ambiguity Well

I’ve seen several variations of the image below over the years. The last time I saw it I decided I’m going to use it with my computer science students next year.

can you read this

I suspect that most people can read that. Some may struggle with some parts of it but once you get rolling your brain takes over and deals with the misspellings and sees what it wants to see. Computers are not very good at that. Generally one has to do something specific before software recognizes that uppercase and lowercase letters mean the same thing. Or at least close enough for most applications.

I think this will serve as an example of a couple of things. Obviously how well human minds handle things that are not quite the way they should be but also how difficult it can be for computers to parse what humans mean by what they say. I’m hoping it will lead to some interesting discussion. What do you think?

1 comment:

John said...

I think it could lead to a great discussion on "Garbage-in, Garbage-out' which is how computers would treat this - the computers results would be unusable. While us humans can 'gloss over' the errors and still get the information from the reading. Neat - I might use this as well. Thanks