Artificial canine intelligence

One bark: Feed me! Two barks: Feed me! Three barks: Feed…you get the idea. As it turns out, there may be more to canine communication than incessant pleas for Milk Bones.

According to news reports, Hungarian sceintists are working on computer software that analyzes dog barks so people can recognize basic doggy emotions.

Apparently, the software testing process involves distinguishing the emotional reactions of 14 Hungarian Mudi herding dogs to six situations: When the pooch is left alone, when it sees a ball, when it fights, when it plays, when it encounters a stranger, and when it goes for a walk. There was no word on whether “when it rolls in filth” or “when it humps a stranger’s leg” would be added to the list.

After analyzing more than 6,000 barks, the software reportedly recognized the emotional reactions of dogs in 43 per cent of cases. Humans, meanwhile, judged correctly in 40 per cent of cases. Another three per cent victory for high technology.

In response to the Hungarian software announcement, Dr. John Doolittle of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, England, claimed to have correctly recognized 100 per cent of the barks, and to have translated them into cat, squirrel and jabberwocky.

Top 10 reasons why dogs do not use computers

Given the last item, it seems like a good time to unveil the Top 10 Reasons Dogs Don’t Use Computers:

10. Can’t stick their heads out of Windows Vista.

9. “Fetch” command not available on all platforms.

8. Hard to read the monitor with your head cocked to one side.

7. Too difficult to “mark” every Web bite they visit.

6. Can’t help attacking the screen when they hear “You’ve Got Mail.”

5. Still trying to come up with an emoticon that signifies tail-wagging.

4. Oh, but they will (with the introduction of the Microsoft Opposable Thumb).

3. Three words: Carpal Paw Syndrome.

2. Saliva-coated mouse is tricky to maneuver.

1. Annoyed by lack of alt.pictures.master’s.leg newsgroup.

IT glitch at the gas pump

Tired of being gauged at the pump? A computer glitch in Germany recently led to petrol and diesel fuel being practically given away.

Instead of increasing the price of gas by three cents a litre, the computer system mistakenly sold the fuel at three cents a litre (the correct price was more than $1.80 a litre). There was no word on whether fill-ups included a free car wash.

The error is estimated to have cost around $15,000. The gas station was closed with the assistance of local police after more than five hours of predictably brisk sales.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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