Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Danger of Acronyms


(I’ve mentioned this before in passing, but I thought I’d go into more detail.)

A while ago, I went to a party with people who worked at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  I was just getting into games professionally, and it was the late 90s, back when having the word “game” in your title made you cool.
That's right.  THESE GUYS thought I was cool.
I have never been good at parties, but having a cool career, having people want to talk to me, made it easier for to schmooze.  However, after a while, I realized that people were smiling and laughing at my comments and jokes in the wrong places; they’d laugh before the punch line or in the middle of something I said.  I was also getting a lot of confused looks.
These guys, sadly, didn't think I was cool.  However, that's a different story.
Finally, one of them said to me, “What do you mean by ‘AI?’”

“Artificial Intelligence,” I said.  “In games we make the enemies and other characters in the game appear to think.  We call it AI, but it’s really a trick.  Real AI work is done in labs and…”

The biologists were smiling and nodding now.

“What?” I said.

“We were just confused.  You kept talking about AI.  In biology, AI means Artificial Insemination.”

Then they all proceeded to go into graphic detail about AI in biology, including simulating the noises the male cranes made when they were, ah, stimulated to release a, um, sample.
"Come here often?"
Never use acronyms when talking to strangers.

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