A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2020 Sep 26, 20:58 -0700
Gary, you wrote:
"I guess Alexa can do everything now( I don't have it)"
I don't have Alexa either, but unless your phone is from the 20th century, you have the equivalent. Just talk to it kindly... Tell it it's a good phone, a nice phone, a special phone. Then, once you have gained its trust, you may begin the interrogation.
Start with basic mathematics. For example, you can say (Android phone), "OK Google, what is pi times the square root of two" and your phone will say, "The answer is approximately 4.442883" (more digits displayed than spoken). Next try something more difficult: "OK Google, what is the cosine of 45 degrees". It has no problem with that and answers "0.707". But ask it for the "sine of 45 degrees" and you can see the steady progress of the AIs taking over the world. As little as four years ago, if you asked your phone for the "sine of 45 degrees" it would reply "positive" because it heard "sign" not "sine". But today, it gives the right answer. The Google-beast has learned that the difference between "sine" and "sign" depends on a subtle difference of context. That's impressive.
At this point, you may think that you have gotten inside your phone's head, and so you ask it the big one: "OK Google, what is the meaning of life?" Try it a few times. Turns out it's not a simple question...
Getting back to navigation, if you're on a sailboat in the middle of the ocean, the "OK Google" feature will almost certainly no longer work (not this year, at least). Of course your phone can determine your location with very high accuracy in the middle of the ocean because GPS works off-network but with a much longer lead time to get a fix. You can't talk to your phone off-network as easily because voice processing turns out to be quite a difficult task, and you need access to a huge database of language to process even simple questions. But no matter --there's a touch screen for that.