One Day a Machine Will [See Subtitle]

Insert Thing People Can’t Do But Would Like Something To Be Able To

A thing with a medical diagnostic application is sure to generate maximum clicks and the field of electronic noses is on the verge of succeeding again for the third time this year. It’s OK that it was on the verge of succeeding ten time two years prior, six time five years ago, three time 15 years ago, and twice n 1997. This time success is virtually guaranteed for now we have ligands and AI!

Nothing has ever come so close to success, so many times, over the course of so many years, as the poor electronic nose. A golden oldie from the biosensor mania days of the mid 1990s, the electronic nose is back, again, and guess what, according to Kate Murphy of the New York Times, the field may finally be on the verge of succeeding.

Previously the e-nose was only a theory with almost no experimental data/evidence to support it but boy did it move copy. Back in the 90s that’s what we used to call media, we called it copy, because it was still mostly on paper, and because we were stupid and did not yet have the vast interwebs at our fingertips. If we wanted to find out the nine best ways to barbecue a meatball we had to go to the library and thumb through the reference stacks or scroll through miles and miles of microfiche like some sort of caveman with a turd rammed up his nose. Speaking of noses and turds, the e-nose is a turd yet I am quite certain still could not smell one.

Slow down a second there dismissive Dan, Miss Murphy said they are using ligands now. Well shit on my face and call me a candied cracker I take everything back I just said then. Brilliant, ligands, why didn’t I think of that? I’m so stupid. Maybe it’s because what Miss Murphy is saying is stupid and not in the least bit helpful or informative plus e-noses have been using ligands since their inception way back in the 1990s beginning with antibodies. A ligand is a generic term for a substance that binds a biomolecule to form a complex. In the sensor arena ligands almost always refer to other biomolecules, most often, though not always, proteins. For instance and antibody can be considered a ligand that mostly binds other proteins, and a lectin is an example of a protein that specifically binds carbohydrates. There are a huge assortment of ligands that have all sorts of different binding proclivities and characteristics (affinities, avidities, etc.). Saying that some sensor system is using ligands is about as helpful as saying a professional golfer needing to hit the ball precisely 90 yards is going to use a golf club. Technically correct but informationally useless.

Of course we all know this article would never have made it to the printed (sorry, digitized) page were it not for the inclusion of the hypeiest of hypetastic click generating machines, our old friend artificial intelligence (AI). Anything that has tried and failed in the past, no matter how pitiful, can be made to succeed when AI is on the case. Can’t get your automatic butt wiper through phase 1 trials? AI will have you wiping asses like a professional ass wipe the next day. Electronic masturbater letting you down again and again? AI will have you shooting jizz from here to the other side of the room in just 30 minutes. And how many times are you going to have to keep making changes to your copy of the blueprints for that pizza making coffee machine before Mr. Coffee stops threatening to sue you for patent infringement? You will be asking Pepperoni anyone while sipping a half calf nespresso in less than a week once you upload AI to the dream machine. News Flash New York Times, Extra, Extra, Read All About It..AI Does Not Exist!, AI Does Not Exist! It may never exist, it may not be possible for an AI to come into existence. Even if it does it may not be possible for us to recognize it as such. In any event, a non existent technology cannot help a fatally flawed concept succeed. The e-nose may give some tech nerds a giant e-rection but it isn’t worth an e-shit on an e-shingle.

Written by

Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store