Cape Doctor's Heavy Dose of Medicine


THIS billboard says it all. It’s not what you think, since the Cape Doctor referred to is the Cape’s infamous wind, the South Easter. Just how much of our language is constructed through metaphor and simile? In today’s object-orientated world where computers appear to “know” more than “people”, it is becoming increasingly harder to tell the difference between man and machine. Whither language? Phrases like “Cape Doctor’s Heavy Dose of Medicine” show us just how far we actually are from real artificial intelligence (AI) since the double entendre, confuses the machine while making mincemeat of literal notions of meaning. Just think what it takes to interpret the phrase? For starters one has to divide the sentence into subject and predicate, a simple operation most pupils of school going age can perform but which computers find near impossible.  Then one has to pick apart the implications, discover the meaning, literal or figurative, overt or implied. It is something no computer today is able to do, unless the computer is taught the exception or terms, has a life, a real life outside of the object orientated language that confine machines to the realm of 1s and 0s.

Expert systems on the other hand, cover up stheir mistakes by accessing these errors. It is an interesting area of computer science, but nevetheless I have proved my point. The brain is faster than a computer when it comes to translating billboards.

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