Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm ok if you're ok. Ok, stop it.

Is sexual harassment the new Turing Test?  Alan Turing postulated that we can tell if machines could think by whether they act like they can think.  The way his test worked was that...

... a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with a human and a machine designed to generate performance indistinguishable from that of a human being. All participants are separated from one another. If the judge cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. The test does not check the ability to give the correct answer, it checks how closely the answer resembles typical human answers. The conversation is limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard andscreen so that the result is not dependent on the machine's ability to render words into audio.

Siri, Apple's new personal assistant inside the iPhone 4s wants to act like a human assistant.  She doesn't just understand your words she understands your meaning.  Or at least she seems to.  

Wait was I just been referring to a talking box as "she"? 

Jonathan Mann, of song a day fame, raises the stakes by adding inappropriateness to the mix.  Jonathan professes his unrequited love to Siri who reacts with remarkable aplomb.  First she tries to ignores it.  Then she redirects.  She restates her objection.  Then she uses humor to diffuse it.  In short, she acts like a smart woman who is trying to send the right signal to a harasser; "not a chance, dude, get over it."  

In fact, it's Jonathan who comes off as not understanding what the hell is going on here.  Score one for Siri.

Then she starts tossing around mildly obscure cultural references.  Douglas Adams' answer to the meaning of life.  She quotes the first artificially intelligent villain in pop culture, HAL.  She's pretty funny in the face of his creepy behavior.  

But eventually, when Jonathan can't catch a clue, Siri has to lay down the law.  Stop.  Just stop.

Seems like a pretty intelligent response to me.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hiding in Plain Sight

We're super excited that the New York Times featured the Thing Tank designed Wispr portable vaporizer in their Style section article "Legal Marijuana Sells Vaporizers."

While our client, Oglesby & Butler cannot make claims about the health effects of vaporization, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School can.  He said, “Vaporized marijuana is virtually free of whatever toxic properties come with burning the plant."    

I just wish that the writer, Jed Lipinski, had attributed the design of the object correctly!  They attributed it to Sequitur Creative, our brand/identity/packaging/web partners on the project. 

But the big news here is that the Wispr is a luxury product, aimed at design savy folks.  That's a response to a growing shift in people's attitudes around marijuana use.  Its gone from something you need to squirrel away when you are in decent company, to an accepted part of modern life.  Paper Magazine is picked up on this trend in their recent article linking the Times piece with a recent Gourmet article "Beyond Pot Brownies."    

"Here we learn about pot-infused wine and beer and other delicacies inspired by 'marijuana's culinary trip from wacky weed to haute herb."

Stay tuned for more Wispr news...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Shhh...Its here

The Wispr vaporizer from Oglesby & Butler is here!  Thing Tank did the design of the object, and Sequitur Creative did the identity, packaging and website.  Sequitur's awesome work was just honored on The Dieline, the coolest packaging website ever.  

I'll be telling the whole story in an upcoming post, and there's going to be some major coverage coming up, so stay tuned!