Finding perfection in a cat

BECK ELEVEN
Last updated 09:40 02/07/2012
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I must have been in the midst of a strange shapeshifting dream, because I woke up with an overriding sense of relief that I wasn't a chihuahua.

The dream may have some root in reality, because I've been researching dogs for an upcoming feature and also my cousin bought one recently. Either way, chihuahuas are very small and they really feel the cold, so as it was a frosty morning, I remained pleased I was no chihuahua.

At this point I realised I was definitely human because I was thinking of dogs. You see, brainy souls at Google have created an artificial brain from 16,000 computer processors. They sat it down with an internet connection where it started thinking about cats.

Just brilliant. You pile exorbitant amounts of expertise, technology and money into a computing system along with millions of random images from YouTube videos for three days and this artificial "intelligence" teaches itself to recognise cats. Lots and lots of lovely cute little cats.

Sure, laugh it up, but behind the cute, furry wall, it does have important ramifications. The brain trained itself to recognise things that humans hadn't specifically instructed it to take an interest in. We know Google can search for anything you care to type into the search field, but this research means Google may be able to find things it hasn't been asked to find such as (probably) catnip, vulnerable birds and goldfish, dying flies, laps and maybe even cat terrorist cells.

It isn't really surprising the artificial brain began to obsess over cats. Everyone knows the internet is comprised mostly of web pages about cats, with Google returning 104,000,000 page suggestions and more than 688,000,000 images.

This is followed closely by a large number of boobs, news and celebrities extracting themselves indelicately from cars. So when the research revealed the artificial brain also learned to recognise body parts, we can probably take a guess as to what those particular anatomical features might have been.

I got carried away with researching the vast majority of those 688,000,000 images. There were normal cats, whacky cats, cats wearing a variety of hats, including headwear fashioned out of melons and bread, and one picture of a stew from China allegedly containing claws.

I suppose I'm a bit zeitgeisty really. I've been thinking about cats for years.

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For a long time, I was never much of a pet person.

You know those people who can't help themselves but give any passing dog a bit of a ruffle up? I was never one. I'm still not, really, but I do enjoy a good cat.

I went through a phase a few years ago of wanting a cat, but I was living in my friend Ruby's house and she wasn't much of a pet person either. The furthest Ruby let me go was to keep a box of Whiskas on the fridge to entice a neighbour's cat in on occasion.

Hmm, that really doesn't look so good now I've written it down.

Anyway, the irony is that reading a story about an artificial brain thinking incessantly of cats made me start thinking incessantly of cats.

Well, not all cats, just this one cat called Monty that I looked after for six weeks last year while his owners were away.

Monty always looked a bit pissed off.

Anyway, I challenge this artificial brain to see a picture of Monty and then try to think of any other cat. I can't.

- The Press

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