04/25/22 – How To Get Answers

Spacetrawler, audio version For the blind or visually impaired, April 25, 2022.




Enjoying this running joke about Ruddock and computers. I know if I were a computer, I’d find his charms irresistible.


  1. Jude

    I love your humour, Christopher! πŸ˜€ I’m perfectly fine letting others write about various philosophical views regarding certain strips of yours. And I’m happy to read their views too even if I don’t agree with them. But I best enjoy simple silly humour, especially when, or maybe because, there are too many serious and distressing things in our world. I really liked Bikkie’s single-minded focus and still miss him. Now Ruddock, with his simple insight, is a perfect ending for my day. He’s my favourite and most likable character in this third series.

    1. 0z79

      Computers just think talking Earth-based canines are that cute? Maybe some kind of unforeseen glitch in advanced AIs.. it’ll cost the galaxy trillions to go through the code and patch that out, if that’s true. :p

  2. Rikard

    Inescapable logic. No one told the computer /not/ to give command and full access to talking coyotes named Ruddock.
    Reminds me of teacher’s college. Some 120 terminals in one room for students (having a computer at home was till uncommon). We were supposed to create personal log ins, but everyone knew you could use “Admin” as name and log on to the network with code”1234″.
    Cue much hilarity when the college IT/tech dep, such as it was, tried to find out who had downloaded what.

  3. someone

    Perhaps the fact the Stribs are caninoids helps Ruddock getting accepted by Strib computers. But his charisma also worked on the Spacetrawler computer. Though that one is used to working for Nogg, so of course Ruddock would seem like a big upgrade. (Plus it had been hijacked by a number of other people before getting hijacked by Ruddock. And one of them, Stangor, is a caninoid, too.)

  4. Coyoty

    We’re just so cute and floofy and irresistible to computers. Similar to the strip Freefall, where all the AIs cry “Doggy!” when they see Florence and help her whatever way they can.

  5. Pete Rogan

    There’s actually a real-world explanation for Ruddock’s commanding presence in front of Strib computers.

    We are now learning that even without conscious effort or input, AIs developed today can have racist habits and a distinct prejudice against nonwhite or even just non middle-class people. The buried assumptions about who will be using the AI, or the people it will process and decide their fate, trickle through a programmer’s fingers and into the code. Sometimes the error is more visible, as when a punishment-selection program regularly downgrades people without a vehicle in their possession, or automatically singles out recidivists for more time behind bars, because they’ve been in the prison system before. This discovery has shocked a lot of programmers, who never considered their code racist, and it causing a good deal of foment in the AI industry right now how to detect and eliminate unintentionally racist code.

    The same thing could have happened with Strib programming, only it reflects the prejudices and deferences of their caninoid developers. Innate and unquestioned modes of behavior are programmed in and never noticed, until a caninoid without such restrictions simple announces itself as taking over, and the Strib computer, as here, has no ability to resist or even question the command. Whoever’s in charge makes the decisions, and plainly here that’s Ruddock, and the logic bows down before him without question. Because that’s what the logic expects.

    You could take this argument a number of ways, which I’m tempted to do, but this ain’t my circus, and these ain’t my Stribs. I mean monkeys. But I expect a fun time watching the automatic controls unwind from the inside, and have to wonder what might happen if Ruddock opens a channel to the Strib fleet in orbit. And maybe muffs the order he’s suggested to send.

    Getting a fresh drink and settling in to grin the week away. Ruddock, you rock!

    1. mel vixen

      I could see that over the generations the stribs themself got more “puppy” like in appearance (and behaviour) but the AI code didnt change.

      Thus with the inbuild assumptions from ye olde datasets etc the AI just thinks that ruddock is the “adult in the room” and thus of higher standing then any mere child/teen.

  6. rws

    These seem to be actual intelligence’s, not whatever it is the ones we have is. One amusing story – US Army tried to create an AI to detect tanks in photos. Worked on test data.

    When they fed it new data, turns out it was looking for trees, not tanks.

    1. mel vixen

      Ah thats nothing on the aussie airforce coders … which took an American Simulator programm and reskinned parts of it.

      Cue Kangaroos with Anti-Air Misseles and Machineguns….

      1. Pete Rogan

        Actually, I’m familiar with that particular incident — it made the rounds in the Risks Digest, a summary of the Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems. The software wasn’t completed, and when demonstrated to a visiting American defense delegation, actual images of troops and tanks had not yet been added to the program. Nor had any weapons.

        So when the helicopter reconnaissance swept down, the ‘roos dodged around a copse of trees, and when they emerged from the other side, they shot…. beachballs. A good many of them, and decently accurate, too. I don’t recall the conclusion of the exercise and what it impressed on the visitors, but there can’t be many professional combat simulators that ever responded this same way.

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