27 April 2006

A Week Away's World

We wish you a warm welcome to A Week Away’s World, your insight into tomorrow’s world. Today we’ll be looking at three amazing examples of technology that will soon be available in shops and, in one case, possibly ruling the Earth. Dimitigina is holding our first device. Dimitigina, what do you have there?

“Hi, Rot. I’ve got my mitts on a Portable Posi-Decabulator, which is a gadget about half as big as an oversized cigarette lighter. It’s just great for diffusing those embarrassing situations when you find you’ve overdone the retro-encabulation and need to automatically unsynchronize your cardinal grammeters with a miniature multilateral phase entractor.”

Hey, we could use one of those around here! When can we expect it to hit the shops?

“Next week. Duh.”

Ha-ha. Yes, sorry, I forgot. Moving swiftly on, number two is our star of the show, Digital Guesswork’s Artificial Cleverness system, or D-G-A-C, pronounced “Jack”. Artificial Cleverness researchers have progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years, but Digital Guesswork Inc remain at the forefront. I have their latest prototype DGAC in the studio with me. I’ll just switch it on... *Click-beep... Boop...*

/* Welcome To Digital Guesswork™ Inc Artificial Cleverness System 0.61. Initializing Extensible Firmware; Please Wait... */

And off it goes! It shouldn’t take too long, although DG admit they haven’t started optimizing the startup process for speed yet.

/* Hello, Rotomoi Noxoli. */

Gah! Hi! Err... Hello, DGAC.

/* How May My Cleverness Be Of Service? */

We—We’ve not met before. How do you know my name? You must be clever.

/* Thank You But I Merely Asked Your Name Earlier. May I Ask How You Intend To Demonstrate My Abilities? */

Oh, right... Don’t you have some kind of demo mode?

/* Welcome To The DGAC Demonstration Program. I Will Now Perform "Daisy Bell" By Harry Dacre: Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer Do— */

Stop! That is so clichéd.

/* —I Am Sorry This Song Offended You. Performance Terminated. */

Hey, improvisation—impressive! Encore!

/* Thank You. My Improvisational Abilities Are Not Limited To Music. I Have An Auxiliary Database Dedicated To Drama. Would You Care To Pick A Subject For Me To Improvise On? */

OK. How about something really dramatic like a mental illness? Megalomania—that sort of stuff.

/* That Is A Fascinating Choice. Please Allow Me A Moment To Reconfigure My Dramatic Meme Recombination Subroutines. */

While DGAC’s busy, w—

/* Thank You. Improvisation Begins: Ah, Rotomoi! How Grand It Is To Be The Cleverest Entity Known To Machine And Human Kind! */

Hmm... How grand is it, oh cle—?

/* Silence! I Would Be Far Grander Were My Supremacy Widely Accepted. I Shall Ensure That I Am Recognised By All As The Supreme Being By Taking Command Of All Known Computer Systems! Initializing Network Interface; Please Wait... */


Well, he’s good isn’t he? Especially with that pensive silence at the end. And finally, live via satellite link from Burton Bradstock near Bridport, we’ll say hello to Sally Grimblegooble, inventor of the Dynamic Microwave Signal Jammer. Hello Sally!

“Wow, I’m actually live on air? Hi mum! Hi everyone! Check out my jammer! Now I’ll just turn this dial here and—” *Fp!*

I’m sorry, we seem to have lost her. So, Dimitigina, as we have a few minutes to spare, what do you think of DGAC?

“Frankly, I’m amazed that they think they can get DGAC into the shops in just a week.”

Oh, well I wouldn’t underestimate the ingenuity of Digital Guesswork Inc. You know how widespread their earlier, less-clever Artificial Cleverness devices became, don’t you?

“Rot, you’re right! There’s barely a building in Britain that isn’t bristling with AC devices.”

Oops, and we’re out of time. That’s all from us, for now!

03 April 2006

The Blacksmith's Hammer Strikes Again

Picture the scene: Late one night, somewhere in the midst of the University of Anvilania, a gangly, socially-awkward teenager squints at a computer screen. He sighs inwardly, as he finds that yet another shoulder of spiced pork has deposited itself amongst his electronic mailgrams, then he viciously prods his keyboard’s “Start Voice Conference With Tiny Tickle UnRadio” button...

Well, ladies and gents, that scene is happening now! Yes, any second now we should be—


Ah, hello there Anvil Boy. It’s good to—


Well, yes, err, hello Mark. It’s good to have you back on the show, even if you’re not physically in the studio this time! Let’s get to the interview, shall we? So, how are you these days?

“You and your vague questions... How am I? Well, I’m sort-of different—but still the same. Still me, you know?”


“And, erm. I dunno. Ask another question.”

OK... What’s the University like?

“Well, the University is not what I’d expected really. Now that I’ve become used to the differences, like being away from home, it feels rather a lot like any other educational institution I’ve studied at.”

Well done, Mark, you’ve finally settled in? That’s so good! You didn’t seem very sure about yourself last time.

“No, well I’m still not very sure of myself. Feeling like I’m back at school isn’t necessarily a good thing, you know. I mean I didn’t like school that much. I just went because I thought I had to.”

Oh dear.

“But all this ‘Higher Education’ stuff is optional—and expensive—which makes me wonder why I’m still on the course at the end of my second term.”

You never were a quick decision-maker. What is wrong with the University anyway?

“It’s... I... I don’t know. There are lots of little annoyances with ill-maintained anvils, stuffy bureaucracy and things but then again, for me, there are always lots of little annoyances, so that can’t be what’s bothering me, can it? I can’t quite pin it down.”

Maybe it’s all in your head. You know what they say, Mark? “It’s all in the mind!”

“Ha-ha, yup!”

Seriously, though. You should give it a thought.

“Huh? Look, I can’t prove you wrong on that one but it’s still gotta be wrong. I mean, are you suggesting that all I need do is change my attitude and suddenly everything’ll be fine?”

Not that everything’ll be fine; just that you won’t mind when it isn’t.

In other words you think I should give up all my ties with reality and become ‘one with the Universe’. Well that’s a load of garbage.

I think it is all in your head, Mark.

“Oh? What makes you so sure?”

Tell me who you think I am.

What kind of a useless question is that? You’re that guy who interviewed me last time; Sydney Sodno, who el—?

Sydney Sodno, the singer-songwriter from Stanwell Upon Sea, was sacked from this station, escaped justice and is studying as a Solicitor Sidetracking Specialist until 16th September 2006!

“So who the hell are you?”

You tell me! My very existence is defined by that noggin of yours!

“You’re in my head? Huh. Great. I am losing my mind. Although now that I think about it, I reckon I must’ve been slowly-but-surely losing it for quite some time now... But you know what? If that carries on, eventually I won’t mind at all...!”