‘Read Aloud’ is no match for the natural intelligence of the human brain…

Somewhere on your tablet, laptop, or desktop you may have created a folder or sub-folder to store general items that you think are interesting and might be of use at some stage in the future. The content may, for example, include information and pictures accumulated over time from websites, items from social media or streaming services, and interesting facts, figures, and slides from presentations given by others. If, like the Badger, you have such a folder then the content probably languishes there rarely used. That’s certainly true for Badger who this week came across a subfolder of old ‘that might come in handy’ items while doing some overdue hard-drive housekeeping.

Most of the subfolder’s old content was moved to the Recycle Bin, but one 15-year-old item from the internet was a reminder of the marvel that is the human brain. That item was simply the following paragraph of misspelt words. See if you can read it.

Fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too. Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny smoe plepoe can. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheeachr at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, mneas taht it dseno’t mataetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproarmtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig, ins’t it? And you awlyas tghuhot slpelnig was ipmorantt!

The majority of people can read and understand this jumble, and the reason why is in the jumble itself. The human brain is magnificent.

On finding this item, and with Artificial Intelligence seemingly everywhere these days, the Badger wondered if the ‘Read Aloud’  function in Microsoft Word embodied ‘intelligence’ that matched his brain’s ability to read and speak the jumbled words coherently and correctly. After turning auto correct off to type the jumbled words into Word, hitting ‘Read Aloud’ on the toolbar resulted in the words being spoken exactly as written, that is in a babble as if they were an obscure foreign language! Clearly any artificial intelligence in ‘Read Aloud’ doesn’t match the natural intelligence of the human brain.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is, of course, a broad field. It’s also a field in which marketeers liberally associate their products with AI when actually it’s an algorithm rather than ‘intelligence’ at the heart of their product. So, what does the Badger conclude from his simple test? Simply that even though AI seems to be a dominant theme at this year’s CES event in the USA, the human brain remains streets ahead when it comes to true intelligence. And long may that be the case…

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