How AI Reporting Works

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Yesterday's SMBC is somewhat unfair, but still funny. The punchline:

The mouseover title: "I've been told we're now down to only 4 gibberish panels."

The aftercomic:

The whole thing:


  1. Yuval said,

    October 10, 2021 @ 9:52 am

    What's unfair about it?

  2. David L said,

    October 10, 2021 @ 12:05 pm

    Reminds me vaguely of a Monty Python sketch (I can't find a video) in which people are reading their horoscopes. One of the characters (man dressed as a middle-aged woman, of course) is reading a horoscope that says something like "You are a large green scaly lizard that lives in the tropical rain forest and eats insects and small mammals, and you like 'Coronation Street."" The woman pauses for a moment and says, ooh, it's right about Coronation Street.

  3. bks said,

    October 10, 2021 @ 5:09 pm

    Earliest example is found in The Odyssey:

    For the Phaeacians have no pilots; their vessels have no rudders as those of other nations have, but the ships themselves understand what it is that we are thinking about and want; they know all the cities and countries in the whole world, and can traverse the sea just as well even when it is covered with mist and cloud, so that there is no danger of being wrecked or coming to any harm.

  4. Pau Amma said,

    October 11, 2021 @ 12:31 am

    Screenreader-friendly description of whole comic:

    Header: How AI reporting works.
    Panel 1 (double-width):
    – Human (sitting, redhaired, male-presenting, wearing maroon polo shirt): "Okay computer! Having scanned all of human literature, make a novel statement about life."
    – Computer (ogival box in 2 tones of grey, with yellow spot (button?) at mid-height and short antenna tipped with yellow bead on top); "[gibberish]"
    Panels 2-8:
    – Computer; "[gibberish]"
    Panel 9:
    – Computer: People like pie
    – Human (jumps up, mouth wide open): "Oh my God!" (last word in bolded italics)
    Panel 10 (double-width, borderless, black and white):
    – Newspaper folded with top half of page 1 headline reading: MACHINE INTELLIGENCE COMPREHENDS HUMAN DESIRES! (exclamation point in italics) followed by picture of computer and boxed text reading: "This thing will change everything" says man who invented thing.
    Aftercomic panel (black and white):
    – Computer: "The fools don't realize how many of my coherent phrases are verbatim from training data!"

    Punchline earlier in blog post is comic panels 8-9.

  5. John Swindle said,

    October 11, 2021 @ 1:37 am

    @David L: I can't find video for the Monty Python horoscope reading either, but according to various Web sources it's in Episode 37 (Season 3, Episode 11).

    "You have green, scaly skin, and a soft yellow underbelly with a series of fin-like ridges running down your spine and tail. Although lizardlike in shape, you can grow anything up to thirty feet in length with huge teeth that can bite off great rocks and trees. You inhabit arid sub-tropical zones and wear spectacles."

    "It's very good about the spectacles."

  6. David L said,

    October 11, 2021 @ 11:30 am

    @John Swindle: Thanks for finding that. I was in the right neighborhood, at least.

  7. Carl said,

    October 11, 2021 @ 8:05 pm

    A solitary figure was coming towards him from the other end of the long, brightly-lit corridor. It was the girl with dark hair. Four days had gone past since the evening when he had run into her outside the junk-shop. As she came nearer he saw that her right arm was in a sling, not noticeable at a distance because it was of the same colour as her overalls. Probably she had crushed her hand while swinging round one of the big kaleidoscopes on which the plots of novels were 'roughed in'. It was a common accident in the Fiction Department.

  8. John Swindle said,

    October 11, 2021 @ 11:25 pm

    @David L: You improved it, too. But it’s relevant either way.

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