This Just In
ISSUE #10 AUGUST 9, 2001

Episode II title causes AI research catastrophe
by Zeke

SILICON VALLEY, CALIFORNIA - Following the announcement that upcoming film Star Wars: Episode II will be entitled "Attack of the Clones," an unexpected disaster has struck the field of artificial intelligence research.

"It seemed the right thing to do at the time," explained AI expert Dr. John X. Kitchener, head of the federally-funded Profound Contemplation Project in Silicon Valley. "After decades of research and development, we'd finally completed the building of Profound Contemplation -- the most intelligent computer ever assembled by the human race. It was the product of every breakthrough made in the AI field; it passed every form of the Turing test with flying colours."

"Now, when we at the Project heard about the title Lucas had chosen for Episode II, we had all the usual reactions: denial, rage, insanity, and sheer befuddlement." (This reporter here notes that a recent survey found that 97.4% of the population of the western world had exhibited one or more of these reactions; the remaining 2.6% had not yet heard the announcement.) "Naturally, some of us began making exclamations like 'This is the worst title they could possibly have picked!' But sanity set in -- as scientists, we don't like to make that sort of statement without proof. And then, I must confess, it was I who made the mistake that caused all of this. I suggested that we could test that statement with our prototype."

"The others agreed, so we set up the experiment. First we told Profound Contemplation the context (choosing a title for Episode II); we then connected it to a digital copy of the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary and fed it, in alphabetical order, every possible English phrase of ten or fewer words. The object was to measure its reactions to determine whether any possible title could have been worse than the one chosen; if not, we could resume our generalizations."

The results, Dr. Kitchener explained, were dramatic. "Everything seemed to be going smoothly -- even 'Anakin Goes Evil and Becomes Darth Vader' left Profound Contemplation unfazed. But when its alphabetical search reached 'Attack of the Clones,' all its circuits suddenly paused. For a moment, time seemed to stretch out, with Profound Contemplation totally silent and a cold chill descending on the room. Then, just as suddenly, the circuits resumed -- faster and louder than ever before. We began to hear a low hum growing steadily higher and louder, realized what was going on, and ran for our lives. Moments after we escaped the building, it exploded, leaving only a smouldering ruin where Profound Contemplation had been. They say you could hear the explosion all the way to Reno."

When asked for his opinion as to what caused the disaster, Dr. Kitchener replied, "There's no 'opinion' about it. Profound Contemplation destroyed itself. The thought that 'Attack of the Clones' might be the title of Episode II was enough to drive the poor thing to suicide. This has set back AI research by 20 years or's a complete, unmitigated catastrophe. And all because of one man: George Lucas."

Response to this news has been unmixed.

"It's purely a matter of probability," commented JC Cafe founder Visigoth. "For example, one hundred monkeys at one hundred typewriters, if left for an infinite amount of time, will eventually type 'Attack of the Clones' and then kill themselves. Wouldn't you?"

"I was looking forward to reprising my role as Mace Windu in Episode II," stated actor Samuel L. Jackson. "But after this announcement and the catastrophe that followed, I cannot in good conscience appear in a film whose name alone will easily destroy my career. My shaved head will be put to a better use: Shaft sequels."

"Yeah, that does suck," observed J/Cer Lyekka. "But enough of this stuff -- let's talk about Lexx."

"Always for the silver lining must a Jedi look," mused Jedi Master Yoda, who did not yet know of Episode II's title. "Anger, hatred, fear...these things to the Dark Side lead. Surely no title completely disastrous can be, hmm?" (At this point the Jedi Master was informed that "Attack of the Clones" had been chosen.) "Spoken too soon I have. In the history of the universe, the worst single event this is. For your lives run! RUUUUUN!"

George Lucas, insanely wealthy director and Star Wars god, was recently reached for comment. "Now tell me," said Mr. Lucas, "why exactly should I give two hoots what everybody else on the planet thinks? I could crush you all like fire ants. 'Attack of the Clones' is the perfect title for Episode II. It's got clones, right? And they attack, right? I rest my case. Go away now or I'll release the banthas."

On his way out, this reporter heard Mr. Lucas muttering: "'Anakin Goes Evil and Becomes Darth Vader,' eh? Sounds like a good title for Episode III!"  

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Copyright 2001, Colin Hayman. A product of This Just Inc. All rights reserved. Star Wars, Episode III: This Notice Void Where Prohibited By Law.