Week 3, Day 2

I have glimpsed the end of society as we know it, and it’s not going to be pretty. There is an epidemic spreading here in the city, I imagine that it will eventually reach more rural areas. The good news? I’m immune. The bad news? You are not. Except my wife, she is immune too. Never fear. Jean and I will rebuild.

A brief, completely geeky aside: Google Docs has a really cool spell checker. It knows about more than just spelling, it knows some grammar, too. For example:

I just ate to apples.        “to” is underlined, “two” is the suggested correction.

I just ate too apples.       “too” is underlined, same suggested correction.

I just ate two apples.      This one is OK.

Writing as much as I have recently, I’ve discerned the underlying algorithm, mostly by noticing where it makes errors. The second to last sentence in the first paragraph is a great example.

Jean is immune too.             “too” is underlined, “to” is suggested

Jean is immune to rubella.   Correct.

I think Google stores pairs of words (at least), and chooses the more correct one based on usage. The phrase “immune to” is much more common, so the spell checker takes that as correct.  I can find little direct information as to whether I’m on the right track. It does bring up the question of what data is used to train the checker. You’d definitely not want to use a lot of high school writing. You could, if you were Google, use a pile of editor-checked text, because you’d have it.

If you waded through all that, you must be worried about the end of society. I first noticed it Friday on my way to work. The man sitting on the bus in front of me had it. Today, I noticed five young (my TA would say “middle-aged”) men waiting for the elevator who were definitely affected. I’ve seen women who are affected, too. I’ll tell you about the men, because they led me to conclude that high tech companies will be the first to fall.

I’m pretty sure those of you back east, including Buffalo, won’t have seen the signs yet. I think it’ll affect those in their early teens first in those areas. You may have seen the symptoms and not realized the scope of the epidemic.  

The symptoms are walking (or sometimes riding) in a zombie-like state holding their mobile phone up in front of them, and occasionally flicking it. These five young men were doing just that while I waited for the elevator, then they began an animated conversation about the Pokemon they had collected.  I’m talking about Pokemon Go. If you haven’t heard of it, you will. It is a augmented reality game where Pokemon appear on your phone and you collect them up. You walk around to find more. Since a lot of people walk here in Chicago, there are a lot of people playing. Some even play on the bus. As the bus moved down the street, a map not unlike a GPS map scrolled on the player’s phone. Occasionally, a Pokemon or other treasure would appear, and he would do battle (?) with it. Like the cards, people collect, trade and make deals around these characters.

Already (it just came out last Thursday), the game has been credited with being agathokakological. (That’s a new one for me, too.) Clearly, national productivity is going to drop; high tech companies first. Then the markets will crash, yada yada yada.

How are Jean and I immune? Flip phones (plus I’ve got my foil helmet). Best of luck to the rest of you.


4 thoughts on “Week 3, Day 2

  1. I know you haven’t had too much of a chance to observe this recent phenomenon, but it’s pervasive. Niantic stock, e.g., increased 66% IN ONE DAY this week. Auschwitz has asked that Pokemon Go figures not appear at its memorial. Sen. Franken is concerned about privacy http://money.cnn.com/2016/07/13/technology/pokemon-go-al-franken/index.html?sr=twCNN071316pokemon-go-al-franken1241PMStoryLink&linkId=26512740, etc., etc., etc.

    I just hope GWC don’t get distracted too much.

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