Author Archives: W.P. McNeill

1979

Leonid Brezhnev sat in the small theater at the back of the State Cultural Intelligence Agency, receiving his periodic briefing on western media. Up on the screen an Englishman in oversized spectacles (Elton John–though that wasn’t his real name) sat … Continue reading

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Intension and Extension in Python

{n|0≤n<20 . n is even} intension = (n for n in range(20) if n % 2 == 0) <generator object> extension = list(intension) [0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18]

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Wifey

Part of speech. Part of life. Continue reading

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Every Time I Fire a Linguist Someone Cooks Me a Delicious Osso Buco

My career as an artificial intelligence engineer began in a master’s program in linguistics. There I memorized the International Phonetic Alphabet, played hunt-the-allophone, read the literature on control verbs and code switching, and generally made a good faith effort to … Continue reading

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It’s Frank’s World, the Rest of Us Just Live in It

Ferdinand de Saussure: Meaning is difference. Claude Shannon: Difference can be quantified. Alan Turing: Quantification can be automated. Go!

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At the Institute for Primate Communication

“NEW SIGN. WE MAKE. YOU SEE.” At first I thought I might have been misinterpreting BoBo, but he kept repeating the signs until it was clear what he meant. “YES YOU SEE” Dian added. “WE MAKE SIGN. YOU HAPPY.” Noam … Continue reading

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Invasion

–Why are we doing this? –Doing what? –Replacing all the humans. –I don’t know. We’re pod people. It’s what we do. –Do you want to? –Want to what? –Replace the humans. –I don’t want to do anything. It’s all just…reflex. … Continue reading

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