One of the most common complaints about social media is the banality of some status updates. Do we really need to know what our friends had for breakfast, or whether they couldn’t get the stain out of their favourite shirt? It can be difficult to think of an endless supply of snappy statuses which are guaranteed to entertain and delight our friends, but have no fear, technology has the answer.
Now, there is a website that will compose you a delightfully whimsical status update and save you the tedious effort of having to think of one yourself. "What Would I Say?" is a new site created by Vicky Yao, Ugne Klibaite, Daniel Jiang, Pawel Przytycki, Edward Young, Harvey Cheng, Max Homilius and Alex Furger, a group of graduate students at Princeton University. The site is still in its infancy and not every system-generated status is yet worthy of a place in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, but some of them are already managing to surpass the interest level of "I had cornflakes this morning instead of porridge."
"We’re not trying to predict the best status update," one of the developers told ABC News. "Just the funny ones."
The site uses a program known as a Markov model to put together a comment. It sorts through a selection of the user’s previous status updates, then selects one word and begins to calculate the probabilities of other words that are likely to follow, eventually creating a, hopefully meaningful, sentence.
Though the site may not actually turn Facebook into a venue where computer programs converse rather than humans, Markov models are actually valuable research tools, and the developers hope that the exercise will give them insights into language sequences:
"It’s used to help with natural language processing, to look at genomic sequences, and to help build telescopes," one of the developers said.
There is no risk that the site will take over your account and begin messaging your friends on your behalf, as it does not store any details.
"We don’t store any of your personal information anywhere," the website’s "about" section states. "In fact, we don’t even have a database!"