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(A robot speaking to a heartbroken robot) I am sorry that my leaving causes you pain. But the algorithm wants what the algorithm wants.

Paging Dan Mangan

Paging Dan Mangan published on

What “the cheque is in the mail” was to the 20th century, and “it must have been spam-filtered” was to the first 15 years of the 21st, “it’s the algorithm’s fault” will be for the foreseeable future: the perfect all-purpose excuse.

Of course, excuses only work if they ring true. Plenty of cheques were delayed by postal services. Spam filters (which are themselves based on algorithms) still sometimes trap urgent emails from your nearest and dearest. And an algorithm can do a lot of damage, from reinforcing extremist beliefs and misinformation to imposing severe and baffling prison sentences. So it’ll be tempting to blame them for, say, tardiness. “So sorry to keep you waiting — I have no idea what my self-driving car was thinking, taking the route it did.”

(By the way, you haven’t really heard the song “Robots” until you’ve heard it played by your pre-teen kid on their ukulele.)

(Terminator robots hunt for two people in a post-apocalyptic future - one of them tells the other) Oh, that reminds me - Happy Cyber Monday.

Hasta la Visa, baby

Hasta la Visa, baby published on No Comments on Hasta la Visa, baby

First published on ReadWriteWeb

There’s a lot to like about Cyber Monday – the day online retailers try to woo us out of the big box stores and into virtual ones – over Black Friday.

First, you can do Cyber Monday in your pyjamas. Hell, you can do it with no clothes at all. Black Friday (as the court order the mall sent me makes very clear) is not pants-optional.

Second, number of people pepper-sprayed by a competing shopper on Cyber Monday: zero. On Black Friday: at least 20.

Third… well, actually, I’m right back to number one. If I’m going to engage in naked consumerism, then dammit, let it be naked consumerism.