That idea has potential

Hover your mouse over the image to get the best part of the joke.

And according to my sources it isn’t all that difficult to build a program which can read a few conversation threads on a topic then make short comments that are indistinguishable from a live person on a similar thread. I would write something to do that and haunt the comment sections of the anti-gun websites but they disable comments or we outnumber them about 100 to 1 already. Hence human labor ends up being “cheaper” than automating the task.

It would be even easier to automate the task of responding as an anti-gun person to all the pro-gun websites—so I did:

namespace AntiGunComment
{
    using System;

    class Program
    {
        static void Main(string[] args)
        {
            string[] commentCollection =
            {
                “ban armor piercing ammo”,
                “ban assault weapons”,
                “ban cop killer bullets”,
                “ban plastic guns”,
                “ban Saturday Night Specials”,
                “ban sniper rifles”,
                “ban the shoulder thing that goes up”,
                “close the gun show loophole”,
                “get illegal guns off the streets”,
                “keep guns out of the hands of children”,
                “license gun owners”,
                “reduce gun availability”,
                “register all guns”,
                “require an arsenal license”,
            };
            const string commentFormat = “We need to {0}. It’s just COMMON SENSE!”;
            Random randomNumberGenerator = new Random();
            int index = randomNumberGenerator.Next(commentCollection.Length);

            Console.Write(string.Format(commentFormat, commentCollection[index]));
        }
    }
}

In case the source code is a little too obscure here is an executable for up to date Windows machines.

It’s a little scary to think someone could be replaced with such a small number of lines of code. With a little more work the capabilities could be enhanced such that it could respond to Bing News alerts by making a blog post. This could replace most of the anti-gun bloggers out there (hmm… maybe I could do that next weekend). I wonder what Joan Peterson and MikeB302000 would think of that… but then, maybe they already have been replaced. That would explain some things.

16 thoughts on “That idea has potential

  1. Reminds me of this shirt from thinkgeek.com.

    When someone repeats the same thing over and over, stuck in an endless loop, unable to hit Ctrl-C and escape, it might be disappointing, but obviously their brain is one easily mimicked by a machine. It’s actual free and independent thought that is considerably harder to simulate (not impossible though), but that’s expecting a lot from a bunch of bigots regurgitating false informatoin about what they don’t know or understand.

    As for the automated Bing search, it would work for some blogs, though I mainly read for the original thought(here amongst others) and endless snark and whit(Thanks Tam!)

    Also begin grammar Nazi mode:

    I would right write something to

    End grammar Nazi mode.

  2. Fixed.

    Thanks.

    I know better but sometimes the wrong words come out of my fingers. Other common mistakes are (by v. buy and there v. their). I don’t have any problem getting it right if I read it carefully enough. But I don’t always do that.

  3. Scary and brilliant (love the CSharp code). However, I think there is a flaw in your cunning plan — your auto generated comments are slightly more rational than the average anti-gunner.

    After reading this blog, and a few others, I’ve come up with a hypothesis about how the folks on the other side approach issues: given a choice between two propositions they will always choose the one they find the most emotionally stimulating and satisfying. Any argument, based on rational though, against their position will either be ignored, attacked or rejected out of hand.

    I’ve got a whole post written about this, just need to get around to finishing it. Ah well.

  4. Since I lost interest in “how computers work” once they told me DOS was gone, what kind of code is that? Or what kind of language? (In other words, if I want to learn how to write that, what do I have to learn? What kind of book do I need?) It really looks pretty logical. (Ha! I know that sounds like a joke.)

    In case you’ve ever wondered, HTML reminds me of early WordPerfect programs (or typesetting on the dinosaur machines) so I never bothered to learn it.

    I’d like to learn how to do advertising and webpages on the internet but I haven’t really tried to figure out what languages I would need to learn. I believe javascript and HTML would be part of it — but what else?

  5. ubu52,

    That is C# code. It can be used for desktop or website code. On the web it replaces Java. But knowledge of HTML is still very useful on the web.

    It’s my language of choice for writing websites such as these:

    http://field.modernballistics.com/
    http://blacklist.joehuffman.org/

    You can download a free trial version of all the tools you need to start writing programs like the one above or the websites from here.

    Books? I’m not so sure. The one I learned C# from five years ago wasn’t very good and there are probably much better ones out now. If you need one at all. If you have written code before then you probably can pick it up from the documentation in Visual Studio.

  6. I hope this doesn’t sound dumb, but is that just “C” or is that “C Sharp”?

    I remember an advanced computer person telling me years ago he needed to learn to program in C because that’s what all the new programs were being written in. Is it the same thing? (Now that I think about it, he told me that back around 1987 so I’m sure this must be something more advanced.)

    I’ve never written code that I know of but I’ve been around computers since the 1975 so I feel comfortable around them.

    Is Visual Studio the Microsoft program for creating webpages? I don’t own that. I thought about buying it once but I keep thinking that I need to take a class to understand all this. I get lost right at the beginning — since I don’t know how to get a blank page with no coding on it to create my own codes. Does that make sense? I probably need to get a really basic book on creating webpages.

  7. I’d recommend adding “No one is talking about banning Y” before “We just need to ban X, it’s just common sense.”

  8. ubu52,

    C and C# (C Sharp), despite being similarly named, are two very different beasts. They are two languages that are almost entirely different. The specifics is a can of worms that would be somewhat counterproductive to open at the moment though.

    That said, it sounds to me like you need to take a big step back and evaluate what you’re actually wanting to do. If all you wish to do is create web pages, you’ve jumped light years ahead of where you should be concentrating.

    Languages such as C# and Java (which Joe mentioned above, there are others) are almost exclusively server side languages meant to implement advanced functionality well beyond what someone just starting out should be worrying about.

    My suggestion is to get yourself started with HTML and CSS and establish a firm working knowledge of both languages. I would also suggest learning some javascript from a current and up-to-date source (older practices are notoriously bad). Once you’ve established yourself a knowledge of the above, then you’ll be in a better position to explore server-side languages such as C#.

    http://www.htmldog.com would be a good place to start

  9. Hank,

    I think it is mostly scare mongering. The biggest key to that conclusion was his claim that the Y2K problem rendered the data inaccessible. This is totally false. I’m certain that even if every program with the Y2K problem had not been fixed every bit of the data would still have been accessible.

    I could see a few cities being nuke making records unavailable for a few weeks or maybe even months. But nearly all the data would eventually come back on-line. The server farms I am familiar with back up their data to some site far far away. It would take very targeted attacks to wipe out both the primary and secondary storage. And then you would just get that particular targeted company data. Granted targeting the largest bank in the country could result in a large “payoff” but it wouldn’t wipe out all property records. There would still be thousands of county, title company, and other records to reconstruct from.

  10. The ideals of liberty are very simple and oft repeated. That they might be codified in such a program, or even a simpler one, doesn’t make them silly or stupid. Complexity in rhetoric is the refuge of the unprincipled. “I don’t want something complicated, Baby. I just want something simple like the truth.” — The Jets

  11. Thanks, Joe, this hit a chord for me – a few years ago I was doing purchasing for a small company. The owner decided that he didn’t want us to keep written copies of our purchase orders. He felt that the electronic records would be adequate. Both the payments clerk and I were finding tracking difficult.

    I ended up leaving shortly after this, not specifically because to this, but it was a factor. The payment clerk also left and she left specifically because they were having so much trouble tracking purchases — she thought that sometimes people carelessly changed numbers and items on the electronic copy without notifying the suppliers, etc.

    Anyhow, the owner (who I’m still friendly with) blamed all the confusion on me and her, but did go back to keeping hardcopies.

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