On the one hand, you, my dear 91-year-old Settimana Enigmistica, buy it from a newsagents – if you're lucky to find one that hasn't failed yet near your house – and then touch it, rub it, smell it, roll it up and consume it in seven days, with the strokes of an imperishable pencil. Confirm and erase passes while you occupy your mind and keep your memory trained. And on the other hand, that strange innovation that everyone embraces even if few understand what it really means, inconsistent and formless, and which wanders in an indistinct world around us, which is called Artificial Intelligence (AI, congratulations on the originality of its acronym). ) And they tell us that everything will change until they replace us. Past versus future, man versus machine, ancient versus modern: welcome to the most disturbing (and extravagant) challenge possible, one that may drive us crazy, but may also offer unexpected certainties.
who will win? Should we be worried? Are we already broken up? But above all, AI – defined as “the underlying technology that allows the operations of human intelligence to be emulated by creating and applying algorithms embedded in a dynamic computing environment” – is capable of solving a crossword puzzle, which is what we humans are. Do you do that for 90 years at home, on the tram, in the waiting room, before bed? A big challenge, there is no doubt about it, and if you are instinctively inclined to focus on the talk, remember that Settimana Enigmistica has so far resisted the tsunami waves that over time have overwhelmed and upended the world of information and entertainment: radio, television, the Internet, social media, applications, virtual reality. The numbers say so.
From 1932 until today our lives have changed in almost every way, but SE (from now on we will also abbreviate it…) has always remained the same – on the newsstands every Thursday, a point of reference for entire generations – never mind the moment of maximum crisis for print newspapers And, in fact, continue to make profits. According to ItaliaOggi, the weekly crossword puzzle sells 400,000 copies every week and “according to balance sheet data of Bresi srl, the Milanese publishing house, in 2022, total revenues amounted to 49.1 million euros with 10.95 million euros in net profits.” . In 2021, revenues reached 49.8 million with profits of 12.78 million. And in 2023, based on the estimates, the results will be better than in 2022.” Not bad for a product without ads that currently costs 1.90 euros.
But let's get back to the very precise challenge. After resisting every devil invented in the last nine decades, will Settimana Enigmistica also give a boost to artificial intelligence? Or will it be swallowed up and humiliated? The experience is interesting, it is better to start with the basic definitions of easy crosswords. 1 Vertical: Alpine quadruped. For the artificial intelligence, the answer is “the marmot, which is considered a symbol of the Italian Alpine troops.” Ooops. but how? And the poor mules? Maybe it's a coincidence, let's try something simpler. 5 Vertical: Mickey's friend Peeta. The AI's response was misleading and inadequate, like when we hadn't studied in high school and on the exam we repeated random, generic things: “Mickey Mouse's best friend is Donald Duck! They are inseparable and have many adventures together.” We're not there, and I think Etta was also the guy who arrived from the future…
Let's test the pun, the initial like 29 horizontally: the end of the tango. There's nothing to do: instead of a simple “go”, the AI shoots us with a pippotto that begins with “It can be interpreted in different ways: some see a feeling of sadness or even separation, while others see…”.
Helps. last chance. 60 Horizontally: a nest of ant-like insects. “It can belong to different species like wasps and bees…”, the AI tells us (a termite mound was the correct answer for the most curious), which is now clear, and is a real crossword failure: it doesn't solve the free-plot problem, Not to mention the “Partizaghi” proposal. Actually, let's try. 47 Horizontal: realistic display of adventure travel in stages. The answer (in this case is not difficult) is Beijing Express, but the very heavy AI gives us a reason (“Traveling in stages offers adventurous and engaging experiences, allowing you to explore places in greater depth. Through virtual reality, you can experience breathtaking adventures” , immersing yourself in exotic places or exploring different cultures, all without leaving your home,” which takes us towards virtual reality. Bah.
In short, the challenge has no history, and Settimana Enigmistica emerges triumphant from the comparison with this very modern technology, which objectively scares us a little but, at least in solving crossword puzzles, still has a lot to study. The success of the old in the face of the new is the unexpected response that fortunately gives us certainty. But there is also a curiosity: Will artificial intelligence at least be able to understand cartoons “to refresh the soul… …between one mystery and another”?
“Internet trailblazer. Travelaholic. Passionate social media evangelist. Tv advocate.”