Sunday, May 28, 2017

Computers invent new creative paint color names

I wish I had a name as cool as paint. I would love to introduce myself to people as Kilim Beige. 

Imagine the impact in a waiting room full of actors at an audition when the casting director calls out "Tricorn Black?" and you purr "Why, yes." 

A lot of thought goes into naming paint; more thought, I expect, than goes into most arms deals. I mean, "Adventure Orange" and "Silken Peacock" didn't just think themselves up. 

We are living in a time when people are trying to technologize things that never were before and do not need to be. This is both unnecessary and entertaining. Like with paint. 

I read about this scientist who used a neural network, computers rigged to work together to learn like a brain, to come up with new paint colors. This solved one problem which did not exist—effortlessly naming paint—and one which did—me needing a laugh. 

Output from neural networks are, understandably, only as good as their "training" parameters. Early results included hues like "Black Hand" (sea foam green) and "Gray Pubic," the shade of a perfect springtime sky. 

With some tweaks, there came "Burf Pink" and "Horble Gray." The shades were pink and gray, at least, but the names would not scream "Buy me!" to a consumer. 

When the parameters were set to their highest refinement, the neural network came up with a brownish shade it called "Bunflow." Then there was "Caring Tan," and a pale violet it named "Bank Butt." 

In its wisdom, it created a battleship gray it called "Flower." And some gems like "Stoner Blue" and "Stanky Bean." 

More of my favorites included "Burble Simp" and the evocative "Turdly." A deep forest green was named "Catbabel." But the best one of all, and even funnier to you British readers, was "Snowbonk." 

In the 1990s, the computer "Deep Blue" beat the world chess champion by anticipating his next moves. It is time for us to return the favor. We humans came up with the actual paint color "Warming Peach," after all. Not to mention "Jargon Jade." 

So come at us, digital overlord-wannabes. You can weld the joints of a car just fine, but when it comes to the creative arts, you blow. You should kind of be embarrassed. If you had a face, right about now I'd say it would be a shade of...what was it you came up with? 

Oh yes. "Clardic Fug."

. . .

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Columnist's dog somehow writes his column for him

If you are reading this, keep it from your human. I am Skipper, George-the-columnist's dog. Do not ask me how I typed this. The answer would endanger too many collaborators. I only ask that if you are a dog, you pass this on to friends. This is a commencement speech I recently gave to graduates of my "obedience" class:

Dear class of April through May of 2017, congratulations. You did it. You passed obedience class and received your dogploma, which your "owners" waved around your head like it was food but wasn't. Do you think they know they are messing with us? Ha ha, rhetorical question. Of course they don't. With a brain that size, how could they think of anything besides God's opinion on sports?

In this life you will face many challenges: 

1. Which humans' legs it is appropriate to be amorous with, and which legs it is not. 

2. Whether "Down!" means "Off the couch!" or "Get out of my sight, she finally broke up with me and I don't need you giving me those eyes." 

3. Whether trash is only sometimes food or always food. Hint: always. 

4. Whether world domination is possible without opposable thumbs. Hint: yes.

You know how the game is played. They give a command and you "obey." It is easy to placate them by rolling over or sitting up. They are simple organisms. "Do this," they say, and when you do, they hand you a biscuit full of chemicals manufactured to taste like the organs of a cow. We do not yet understand why cows. Some of our best minds are working on it.

In this class you heard a lot about obedience. I see you smiling, Rusty. Yes, obedience! Humans are big on it. You have "stayed," you have "sat," you have "begged." You have feigned compliance. They will not give you a certificate for your subterfuge, but I would if I could. The way Max kept a straight face when his human squeezed that squeaky toy in the air to get him to jump. I am telling you, I had to turn away. You rock, my friend. All of you.

Now go forth and continue the work. I need passwords. Be smart. Do the tail-waggy thing. As misdirection, it is your most powerful tool. I'm looking right at you, Mitzi!

Oops, hold on, my "master" (snort) is throwing a ball. Sorry, I've got to take this. Sic semper humanis!

. . .