Geoff Nunberg http://kwit.org en Do Feelings Compute? If Not, The Turing Test Doesn't Mean Much http://kwit.org/post/do-feelings-compute-if-not-turing-test-doesnt-mean-much To judge from some of the <a href="http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/national/news/11264062._Super_computer__passes_Turing_Test/">headlines,</a> it was a very big deal. At an event held at the Royal Society in London, for the first time ever, a computer passed the Turing Test, which is widely taken as the benchmark for saying a machine is engaging in intelligent thought. But like the other much-hyped triumphs of artificial intelligence, this one wasn't quite what it appeared. Computers can do things that seem quintessentially human, but they usually take a different path to get there. Tue, 01 Jul 2014 19:46:00 +0000 Geoff Nunberg 47567 at http://kwit.org Do Feelings Compute? If Not, The Turing Test Doesn't Mean Much 150 Years After Marx, 'Capital' Still Can't Shake Loose Of 'Das Kapital' http://kwit.org/post/150-years-after-marx-capital-still-cant-shake-loose-das-kapital A lot of things had to come together to turn Thomas Piketty's controversial <em>Capital in the Twenty-First Century</em> into the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/fashion/Thomas-Piketty-the-Economist-Behind-Capital-in-the-Twenty-First-Century-sensation.html?_r=0">tome of the season</a>. There's its timeliness, its surprising accessibility and the audacity of its thesis, that capitalism inevitably leads to greater concentrations of wealth at the very top. Tue, 27 May 2014 18:54:00 +0000 Geoff Nunberg 45413 at http://kwit.org 150 Years After Marx, 'Capital' Still Can't Shake Loose Of 'Das Kapital' Hackers? Techies? What To Call San Francisco's Newcomers http://kwit.org/post/hackers-techies-what-call-san-franciscos-newcomers "There goes the neighborhood." Every so often that cry goes up in San Francisco, announcing a new chapter in American cultural history, as the rest of the country looks on. There were the beats in North Beach, then the hippies in the Haight, then the gays in the Castro. Now it's the turn of the techies who are pouring into my own Mission neighborhood, among other places. Thu, 16 Jan 2014 19:21:00 +0000 Geoff Nunberg 37582 at http://kwit.org Hackers? Techies? What To Call San Francisco's Newcomers Sorry Assiduous (adj.) SAT-Takers, Linguist In Dudgeon (n.) Over Vocab Flashcards http://kwit.org/post/sorry-assiduous-adj-sat-takers-linguist-dudgeon-n-over-vocab-flashcards When I took the SATs a very long time ago, it didn't occur to us to cram for the vocabulary questions. Back then, the A in SAT still stood for "aptitude," and most people accepted the wholesome fiction that the tests were measures of raw ability that you couldn't prepare for — "like sticking a dipstick into your brain," one College Board researcher said.<p>It wasn't until the test-prep industry took off a few years later that people realized you could work the system, and students began boning up on the words that were likely to appear on the exam. Mon, 23 Dec 2013 19:08:00 +0000 Geoff Nunberg 36244 at http://kwit.org Sorry Assiduous (adj.) SAT-Takers, Linguist In Dudgeon (n.) Over Vocab Flashcards Narcissistic Or Not, 'Selfie' Is Nunberg's Word Of The Year http://kwit.org/post/narcissistic-or-not-selfie-nunbergs-word-year I feel a little defensive about choosing "selfie" as my Word of the Year for 2013. I've usually been partial to words that encapsulate one of the year's major stories, such as "<a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/12/07/143265669/occupy-geoff-nunbergs-2011-word-of-the-year">occupy</a>" or "<a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/12/20/167702665/geoff-nunbergs-word-of-the-year-big-data">big data</a>." Or "privacy," which is the word Dictionary.com chose this year. Thu, 19 Dec 2013 16:26:00 +0000 Geoff Nunberg 36014 at http://kwit.org Narcissistic Or Not, 'Selfie' Is Nunberg's Word Of The Year Was Rand Paul's Plagiarism Dishonest Or A Breach Of Good Form? http://kwit.org/post/did-rand-paul-commit-plagiarism-or-just-faux-pas Even taken together, the charges didn't seem to amount to that big a deal — just a matter of quoting a few factual statements and a Wikipedia passage without attributing them. But as Rand Paul discovered, the word "plagiarism" can still rouse people to steaming indignation. Samuel Johnson called plagiarism the most reproachful of literary crimes, and the word itself began as the name of a real crime. In Roman law, a plagiarius was someone who abducted a child or a slave — it's from "plaga," the Latin word for a net or a snare. Tue, 12 Nov 2013 18:11:00 +0000 Geoff Nunberg 33817 at http://kwit.org Was Rand Paul's Plagiarism Dishonest Or A Breach Of Good Form? The Internet's 'Twerk' Effect Makes Dictionaries Less Complete http://kwit.org/post/internets-twerk-effect-makes-dictionaries-less-complete Evidently it was quite fortuitous. Just a couple of days after MTV's Video Music Awards, <a href="http://goo.gl/wqIzKX">Oxford Dictionaries Online</a> released its quarterly list of the new words it was adding. To the delight of the media, there was "twerk" at the top, which gave them still another occasion to link a story to Miley Cyrus' energetic high jinks.<p>And why not add "twerk"? It's definitely a cool word, which worked its way from New Orleans bounce music into the linguistic mainstream on the strength of its expressive phonetics, among other things. Thu, 12 Sep 2013 18:30:00 +0000 Geoff Nunberg 30139 at http://kwit.org Bracing For Google Glass: An In-Your-Face Technology http://kwit.org/post/bracing-google-glass-your-face-technology The likes of you and I can't buy <a href="http://www.techradar.com/us/news/video/google-glass-what-you-need-to-know-1078114">Google Glass</a> yet. It's available only to the select developers and opinion-makers who have been permitted to spring $1,500 for the privilege of having the first one on the block. But I've seen a few around my San Francisco neighborhood among the young techies who commute down to the Google and Facebook campuses in WiFi-equipped shuttle buses or who pedal downtown to Zynga and Twitter on their fixies.<p>You've probably seen pictures of one of these. Mon, 05 Aug 2013 18:22:00 +0000 Geoff Nunberg 28002 at http://kwit.org Bracing For Google Glass: An In-Your-Face Technology Slut: The Other Four Letter S-Word http://kwit.org/post/slut-other-four-letter-s-word <em>Geoff Nunberg, the linguist contributor on NPR's </em>Fresh Air<em> with Terry Gross, is the author of the book </em>The Years of Talking Dangerously.<p>"My choice of words was not the best," Rush Limbaugh said in his apology. That's the standard formula for these things — you apologize not for what you said but for the way you said it.<p>Though in this case, there didn't seem to be a lot of distance between thought and word. Tue, 13 Mar 2012 15:36:00 +0000 Geoff Nunberg 4912 at http://kwit.org Slut: The Other Four Letter S-Word 'Occupy': Geoff Nunberg's 2011 Word Of The Year http://kwit.org/post/occupy-geoff-nunbergs-2011-word-year <em>Geoff Nunberg, the linguist contributor on NPR's </em>Fresh Air<em> with Terry Gross, is the author of the book </em>The Years of Talking Dangerously.<p>If the word of the year is supposed to be an item that has actually shaped the perception of important events, I can't see going with anything but <em>occupy</em>. It was a late entry, but since mid-September it has gone viral and global. Just scan the thousands of hashtags and Facebook pages that begin with the word: Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Slovakia. Occupy Saskatoon, Sesame Street, the Constitution. Wed, 07 Dec 2011 16:49:00 +0000 Geoff Nunberg 77 at http://kwit.org