Not cheating but task support

Summary:Three British persons were convicted of cheating a casino by using an unorthodox approach to playing poker. Their setup included a miniature in-sleeve camera (for imaging cards from beneath as they were dealt); an inconspicuous earphone; a wireless video link; and a truck containing a video recorder (to slow down the footage so the cards' faces could be easily read).

Not cheating but task support
Three British persons were convicted of cheating a casino by using an unorthodox approach to playing poker. Their setup included a miniature in-sleeve camera (for imaging cards from beneath as they were dealt); an inconspicuous earphone; a wireless video link; and a truck containing a video recorder (to slow down the footage so the cards' faces could be easily read). During the game, the playing member of the gang was kept up to date (via the earphone) on the contents of her opponents' hands. This gave her something of an advantage, and the group accumulated roughly 250,000 pounds before being caught. (Greed was their undoing. In their last session, they made the mistake of winning 34 out of 44 hands, which a back-of-the-envelope calculation by alert casino staff revealed was just ever so slightly above the statistical average.)

So what?

Cheating at poker has long been a research interest of mine, so I was especially happy to run into this item. Well, not exactly cheating at poker.

My research interest is actually in real-time, inconspicuous mental support. The way I've always imagined it, you'd have a headset in one ear that would transmit the conversation around you to an inexpensive (presumably off-shore) professional researcher. She in turn would rapidly check others' facts, find evidence to support your arguments, and just generally work to make you "smarter." Her results would be whispered into your ear or perhaps displayed on your smartphone or a heads-up display built into your glasses.

It wouldn't stop there. She'd also respond to specific questions (of course) and serve as a broker for other knowledge sources as necessary. Stuck on a tricky bit in a proposal? Instantly bring up an MBA or an industry expert or a professional writer. Yelling at your teenager? Dog throwing up? Sparks shooting from the kitchen outlets? Can't remember your mantra? No problem: Bring up a child psychologist or a vet or an electrician or a genuine yogi in no time at all. These are expensive resources, of course, but 1) you may be desperate and 2) you may only need them for short bursts (1-5 minutes), so their high hourly rates needn't be a barrier.

This notion of short, instantly-available bursts of expertise is extremely powerful. It could simplify and democratize access to experts while at the same time dramatically increasing demand for their services. And who knows? With a surreptitious videocam on your glasses and a statistician whispering quietly into your ear, you might even play better poker.

Topics: Tech Industry

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