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Programmed for Humor

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati are trying to program computers to recognize a joke. So far, they've only gotten to the kindergarten level, by teaching computers to recognize words that sound the same (but are spelled differently) or words that sound somewhat similar and can be taken more than one way. In a word, puns. The example in the article reminds me of my daughter's first joke. She approached me carrying a broom and said, "Shh! Be quiet! I'm trying to SWEEP!" I laughed at that all day, but mainly because she was two years old and had never successfully told a joke before.

Joke recognition software could be very useful to someone like me. I'm always searching the internet for humor, but funny stories are often not labeled with the words "humor", "funny", or "joke". The program in this project allows a computer to recognize a joke, but it still cannot discriminate between a funny joke and a dud. That's fine, if you're a kindergarten humorist, but it won't lead to an improvement in joke-telling when all you receive is positive feedback (insert mechanical voice: "That is a joke. Ha ha ha"). They hope to expand the program's repertoire eventually, and learn more about human reactions to humor by replicating them in a computer. It seems like an uphill battle to me. The human brain has an almost unlimited capacity for obscure connections, which many people never use. You can tell a lot about a person by whether they understand and appreciate very subtle humor. If he "gets it", he shows a certain level of intelligence. If he gets it and still doesn't crack a smile, he may be a snob or just too serious for my tastes. Studying human reactions to humor is a complex process that most of us do without thinking.

What will this lead to? Will we eventually have household robots who not only do chores, but laugh at our lame attempts at humor? That's what we have children for!

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Apple Is Offering Free Battery Replacements for Some MacBook Models
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iStock

Want to extend the life of your MacBook Pro battery? A new offer from Apple might let you replace it for free.

Some non Touch Bar, 13-inch MacBook Pros that were manufactured between October 2016 and October 2017 are eligible for the program, and you can see if your computer qualifies by entering your serial number on Apple’s website.

The company said some of the batteries in models manufactured during this one-year period may be faulty, which is what prompted the offer. Although it’s not a safety issue, a component in the battery could fail, causing the battery to expand. Affected customers who already paid to have their battery replaced can also contact Apple for a refund.

The service takes three to five days to complete and can be done at any Apple-authorized service provider or retail store. Computers can also be mailed in to a repair center.

Before sending it away for repairs, though, it's important to check for other issues with your computer. Apple notes, “If your 13-inch MacBook Pro has any damage which impairs the replacement of the battery, that issue will need to be resolved prior to the battery replacement. In some cases, there may be a cost associated with the repair.”

[h/t The Verge]

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Amazon Will Now Deliver Packages to Your Car Trunk
Amazon
Amazon

Delivery drivers call them “porch pirates.” It’s a derisive term for people who take advantage of the fact that many residents aren’t home during the day and swipe packages from doorsteps. Bad weather, nosy neighbors, or general privacy concerns may be other reasons you’re not comfortable leaving shipments unattended. Now, Amazon has a solution: Today, the company is introducing Amazon Key In-Car Delivery, a new method for dropping off packages that virtually guarantees they’ll be in one piece when you get home.

When shoppers opt for Amazon Key at checkout and own a vehicle that supports app-based unlocking, the delivery driver will be able to pop open your trunk and deposit your items inside. Essentially, your car doubles as a storage locker.

Your car may be sitting in your office parking lot during the day, but that’s no problem. Drivers will be able to pull up to your car there and make the same drop-off. When you’re done with work for the day, your packages will be waiting. Your car can be parked anywhere within a two-block radius of the delivery address and still be eligible for the service.

But how would a driver find it? The In-Car Delivery program requires a few things in order to work. For one, you need Amazon’s Key app; you also need to give the company permission to lock and unlock your vehicle. Your car must support app-based access, like 2015 or newer GM cars with OnStar subscriptions or recent-model Volvos with a Volvo On Call account. These vehicles have partnership agreements with Amazon that make them compatible with the Key software, as well as GPS functioning that allows drivers to find them when parked offsite. You’ll also need to be in one of 37 markets where Amazon dispatches their own delivery staff.

If this delivery approach is embraced, it’s likely that other carmakers will help Amazon widen their distribution platform. Amazon Key also offers in-home delivery service in select cities, which allows drivers entry into your home to leave packages inside.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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