Brutus One

In 2003, Selmer Bringsjord (of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York) unveiled a computer program which, after seven years of development, was capable of writing short stories. When one of its creations was slipped in with three other stories and published on the Internet, only 25 per cent of 4,000 readers were able to guess which had been composed by Brutus.

Impressive though his accomplishment was, however, Bringsjord was quick to acknowledge the program's limitations: "Brutus One is only the first version of the program," he explained. "

[It] is a good imitator of styles that we feed into it, but so far it can produce only 500-word stories written from a male point of view about betrayal in a university setting."

[In 1996, Panasonic unveiled a Japanese Web browser with the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker as its "Internet guide." Though the browser worked brilliantly, the company promptly cancelled its planned product launch. The problem? An American staff member noticed that the ads featured an inappropriate slogan: "Touch Woody -- The Internet Pecker!"]

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