Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Thursday, September 7 2023, Ryan Patrick Smith

Methinks the setter doth protest too much!  Today's puzzle has a suspiciously synthetic theme - a lot of ominous references to the world of robotics and artificial intelligence, apparently clued by an AI which has reached a sufficient level of self-awareness to throw in a whole bunch of clumsy misdirection to convince you, the solver, that it is actually a human doing the setting.  Just the kind of tactics you'd expect from a robot, or android, to throw us off the scent.  The scent of overheating silicon, that is!  

Really, this was a whole lot of silly fun.  The theme clues are all quite lengthy, each containing "I'm a real human, honest!"-type disclaimers, so I won't transcribe them here.  In addition, though, there are other little "slips" sprinkled throughout the grid, as though our mechanical setter just can't help revealing its coe identity.  Hilarious!  The whole thing starts out with IROBOT, which the setter assures us he isn't - and culminates in TURINGTEST, the famous thought experiment conceived by computer pioneer Alan Turing, as an indicator of the "intelligence" of a machine.  Of course, the setter assures us that he'd pass the test, and why wouldn't he - he IS a human after all :)  I rather think that today's AI such as ChatGPT would pass the Turing Test with flying colours, certainly by the standards originally conceived.

Much to appreciate in the rest of the grid, as well.  I think my favourite QMC was the brilliant "What often has a heart beat?" (SPADE).  And in yet another possibly unintentional reveal, "Two, for the binary number system" (BASE) refers to the ones and zeros that comprise the very lowest level of a computer's operating system - its brain, if you will.  A real human would know that a prankster says "GOTCHA", not GOTYA, but of course it wouldn't have fit into the grid in its "correct" form.

Full disclosure - FWOE today, thanks to OHOK instead of AHOK for "I get it now", which survived a careful review of the puzzle post-solve.  NERTS to me!

I'm not doing this puzzle the justice it deserves.  Good work Mr. Smith!



  1. I really enjoyed this one. Chuckled all the way through. And I liked the tricksy "Adam's apple locale" - "neck" fits, but no, it's EDEN. Is that because the robot doesn't have an Adam's apple?? And good catch on GOTYA. Ha!

  2. Also - was delighted to see 48A "Portugal's ____ Miguel Island" - We just left there a couple days ago! :)