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What makes 20Q even more uncanny is that you can buy the fully trained artificial intelligence baked into silicon and wrapped in plastic: it’s a toy the size of a tennis ball. I have one at home.

I remember showing it to my mum and her friends (this is pre the web being really common, when we had fewer encounters with big, uncanny mathematics). They couldn’t believe it worked so well. One, I remember distinctly, refused to speak the name of her object within hearing range of the toy, to counter the possibility that 20Q was listening for what people said.

This cost me £4.99!

I’m more amazed by big maths being cheap than I am by anything else.

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March 28, 2012

Botworld is a talk on domestic artificial intelligence, from February 2011.