English Department Replaced by a Computer

May 3, 2011 9:00 am
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English Department Replaced by a Computer

In response to the controversy surrounding declining enrollment in the humanities, Stanford has decided to replace the English department with a 15″ Macbook Pro. The computer will perform all of the functions of a current English professor, including generating papers and classifying essays.

“We’ve determined what we need this computer to do, and have selected three PhD researchers create the software,” explained Harry Elam Jr., the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. “I’ve heard it’s very advanced.”

The computer will read millions of pages of text across genres and will use high order Markov models and n-gram language models to produce research.

Butrus Lindau, the PhD student in charge of the software talked to the Flipside to explain the details. “In terms of grading essays, we have reduced it to a simple machine learning problem of classification. We just have to detect salient indicator words like ‘aforementioned’ and ‘juxtaposed.'”

The current English department is trying to fight the changes, but administrators have insisted that you just can’t beat a computer in terms of cost and efficiency. Said Elam, “The computer can grade 25,000 essays per second, and we aren’t seeing this kind of throughput from any professor in the department.”

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