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7.1.18

From the Editor

O, brave new island that has such editors in’t. (Or on’t.)

I have decided to replace myself with an algorithm. (If, that is, I haven’t already been replaced by one without my knowing about it my knowing about about it knowing.) There are still many details to be worked out. But, in the spirit of transparency that defines all of our decisions, and indeed defines the innumerable algorithms controlling your intake of information today, I thought I’d share some of our thinking here at Martha’s Vineyard. “At Martha’s Vineyard” you cry! “Who says ‘at Martha’s Vineyard’?” To which I need only refer you to the first three lines of code:

If (“Martha’s Vineyard” = Martha’s Vineyard Magazine) then preposition = “at”

Else if (“Martha’s Vineyard” = Island) then preposition = “on”

Else if (speaker = off-Islander) then preposition = “in”

To the makers of algorithms such as the one I am replacing myself with, this is known as – I kid you not – “the dangling else problem.” If you doubt me on that, look it up. But rest assured, that is the last you will ever hear or read from either me or my algorithmic replacement about any “dangling else,” whether such should appear under the cliffs of Aquinnah or among the boulders and dunes of Lucy Vincent Beach. Again, to the code:

If (“dangling else” appears) then kill story idea

Else if (“dangling else” reappears) then consult publisher

It’s not all Boolean around here either. Another term of art that you may not be familiar with, but that our team of artificially intelligent programmers is working hard on, is “hash-based conditionals.” Back in the early 1970s, hash-based decision-making was far more popular on the Vineyard than it is today, or at least more out in the open. Nowhere more so than at Lucy Vincent Beach, which was then known as Jungle Beach. Part of the hash-based conditional code we are developing for descriptions of days there back then includes:

raw_input (“enter the mood you are in that you want to comment on:”)

known_moods = {

“mellow”: “oh, wow man, just listen to the surf,”

“really mellow”: “oh, wow man, just listen,”

“totally mellow”: “oh, wow,”

“seriously mellow”: “oh...oh...,”

Lucy Vincent, by the way, was voted the top beach in this year’s Best of the Vineyard contest. This despite the fact that neither I nor my algorithm is allowed to go there. Even if I keep my algorithm on a leash. This is the main reason why I am replacing myself with artificial intelligence, rather than crowd sourcing. My algorithmic replacement came very close, in fact, to cancelling the whole Best of the Vineyard contest. But not because more people voted for Lucy Vincent than the previous perennial winner, South Beach. No. It turned out a Russian hacker named Fancy Skunk had slipped a bit of code from the White House into our algorithm:

If (“any good thing was created by any predecessor”) then call terrible and undo.

Comments (1)

David Ewald
Chesterfield, NH
Your not-so-tempestuous paraphrase of Shakespeare's great line by Miranda: "O, brave new island that has such editors in’t. (Or on’t.)", managed to hash out a distinction between the covert clarity of computer programming, and the degrees of recreational brain programming openly attained by locals in the Seventies with "fumes that mantled their clearer reason", to paraphrase Prospero.
July 4, 2018 - 4:28pm
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