This popped up yesterday and has subsequently created something of a moral dilemma. The Original Poster (OP) is a game developer (according to their bio) and I don’t follow them, but this got Tweeted into my feed and therefore attracted attention.
Now, I know immediately what these people are referring to. There is sufficient explanation in each of the comments to support a logical conclusion: cats have done this for centuries. It is not a new phenomena. Therefore, a word already exists in language to support it:
This is the first time I’ve encountered the situation where more than one person has hoped the Internet can provide them with an answer, where that solution is a word they never have been taught. Part of my brain supposes that maybe these people never had a cat or were close to one growing up, or simply don’t realise that certain things that particular animals have specific language associated with them. After all, this level of literary sophistication is no longer required to live or exist, especially with the presence of the Internet itself, particularly AI such as Siri.
Imagine, if you will, asking your mobile phone: ‘Why is my cat vibrating?’
One assumes that if your phone ‘assistant’ can locate at least one other person who has asked this question, and it is ranked high enough in a search engine to be picked up by an AI, then suddenly vibrating cats gain a measure of legitimacy. What should happen with AI, of course, is that it/they look at this question and think ‘look, human, that’s not vibrating, it’s called purring, so let me provide you with the correct word and move on’ except the day artificial intelligence can do that one assumes that humanity will also have become surplus to requirements, and we’re into Terminator ‘no fate but what we make’ territory. Also, one assumes that synthetic brains wouldn’t have pedantry programmed in as standard, and would understand that ignorance can be easily addressed with education.
Just so we are clear: people are not more stupid than they were. This cannot be solely blamed on educational failure, however ‘funny’ that might be. The key difference between twenty years ago and now is that individuals are exposed to far more information than was ever the case before, but have not yet fully grasped how to absorb it effectively. People are more willing to ask questions anonymously when they are confident their question will not be met with immediate ridicule or contempt. Most importantly of all however, you as a person are interacting with far more people than was ever the case for your ancestors.
Everybody has questions, but not everyone has the answers.
The key here, it seems to me, is not to use other people’s ignorance for entertainment: however, when entities such as the Darwin Awards exist to do just that, curiosity may well be the bigger casualty. We all like to point and laugh at other people’s stupid, ad programmes like Jackass exist purely to prove that we, as a race, are often as dumb as rocks. In my ideal world, I’d now make a video explaining this blog post with some funny GIFs and a genuine earnest conclusion: sometimes, shouting your question into the void is not the answer. When the only things that might be listening are AI, this has the potential to turn a bright future into a place where ignorance is derided.
The future should be education and not entertainment at others expense.
[PS: Yes, I’m overthinking this. What of it? ^^]