Sunday, March 13, 2011

Third Iteration

Iain found out differently when he talked to Mr. “Call me Harold” Garland. The time criterion for a genuine test was too long, and Garland had decided that it was better to modify it for client contact. In that way, DiNES 3.0 was born.

That version was easier than it looked. All Iain needed to do was to hook it up to buys of gold futures contracts, and the SPDR Gold Shares ETF, done on clients’ initiative. Thanks to March ’09, Enlightened had more than sufficient chits with three large investment firms to give DiNES a look at their archived order books. Programming the outputted sales patter was as easy as turning a receiver into a transmitter; only minor modifications were needed.

Pleased with DiNES’ first output, Iain sent its first sales script over to an old college friend. They had sat beside each other in economics class; the friend had gone into marketing. He was the best sounding board Iain could find.

After exchanging pleasantries and catching up, Iain’s old college bud said that the patter was too dull, too unobtrusive. “It’s like the guy who got fired first on the first season of The Apprentice. Polite, but no flash.”

So, DiNES 3.1 was indicated. There being no database of English words arranged by emotional content, Iain racked his brain for a while – late at night when the office was virtually empty – until an energy-drink-inspired brain flash came to him. While taking a break and surfing the news, it occurred to him that the tabloid Websites were more vibrantly written than the more restrained virtual broadsheets. That was it!

Hacking together a comparison algorithm, he cobbled together a word database tabulated by emotional impact; it was culled from comparisons of same-event headline stories of tabloids and broadsheets. Elections, wars, disasters, shocking crimes, the whole bag. When looking at the modified DiNES 3.1, he felt confident enough to begin the final modifications.

Since everyone was curious, Garland had decided to make the unveiling of the completed DiNES an office-wide mini-celebration. The retail guys had their cells hooked up to their office lines and joined too.

Although not formally announced, DiNES was a wide-open secret. Neatly working around the personnel problem and firm-policy clash, it was truly the new vista for Enlightened Capital. There was no need to bring a gold nut into the firm that would gum up the works. The rationality of a full-fledged trader-analyst computer would be Enlightened’s ticket into the burgeoning gold world. Although its trading unit had yet to be field-tested, the virtual real time testing was good enough to match it with any of those loons – better, even. It was good enough for analyst work as it was. Garland regretted the fact that Hal's schooling had to take priority over this historic event.

Iain had hooked in a speech synthesizer to the completed DiNES 3.13. Audio output fit in with the speech he was sure the top boss would make.

Wanting to be brief, Garland spent most of his time complimenting the crack programmer. Iain smiled thinly, not having much use for praise. What mattered was repeat business.

“And now, I ask our Iain Quan to output the first client presentation from Enlightened’s new Distinguished Natural English System!” Iain, hearing “our” as a disguised re-up, didn’t mind the name mangle.

Waiting a second for a dramatic pause, he pressed the “OK” button on the DiNES window and sat back in his chair, smiling. It was the moment they had all been waiting for.

The synthesized voice rang clearly through the hush:

“Are you fed up with central bank incompetence? Do you think that Ben Bernanke should retire and hide from his constituents? Then you need to invest in Gold! Gold, the time-tested way to beat back government buffoonery and politicians’ knavery… “

As he heard the historic program belt out something about the bailout being the “crime of the century,” Garland began to get ill again. His subordinates, with one exception, began looking appalled. Some looked at the computer, open mouthed. A few looked at each other. Garland himself looking at Myers concealing a smile, he resigned himself to his done deal.

Thankfully, although it was historic, it was only a computer program. A few jokes with his subordinate colleagues would make things right.

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