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Wikipedia bot-swarm foretells snooker result

Self-editing Borg collective takes control of hive mind

Seven Steps to Software Security

The online hive-mind jumbleshop Wikipedia continues to amaze. The Web 2.0 consensus reality has now begun to edit itself without human input - indeed has gone so far as to allow automated bots to overrule humans.

Perhaps coincidentally, it has also begun to make predictions about the future. Most amazing of all, it now seeks to edit the Reg, possibly through its human servants or perhaps using robots again.

A few days ago, we ran a piece on Wikipedia's corporate uncertainty regarding Gerry Adams' membership of the Provisional IRA, in which it seemed that Wikipedia sysop "Betacommand," a self-described "member of the Borg collective", might have been making some erratic decisions.

Then we were contacted by Thomas Dalton (aka Tango) "English Wikipedia Administrator".

Tango wrote: "For your information, Wikipedia user Betacommand was stripped of admin privileges at 1:36 [GMT] - a few hours before your article on Wikipedia's Gerry Adams article was published...Your article is therefore incorrect...update it."

It appears that the entity known as Betacommand is no longer a Wikipedia sysop, having been busted by wiki-supremo "Rdsmith4".

However, Betacommand obviously was an admin at the time the events occurred. Particularly as Betacommand wasn't busted for fiddling with Gerry Adams' biography, but for being a robot.

The Wikipedia "ArbCom", a panel of nine supreme intelligences (well, user accounts) which ultimately control the collective mind, preferred to maintain the fiction that Betacommand was a real human who had been "using bots inappropriately", to overrule various other bots and/or humans. However, they seemed to have no real evidence that he/it was anything other than - as Betacommand itself admits - one of the Borg.

Anyway, some or all of the Supreme Nine might easily be robots themselves (sample quote from RDsmith4: "What a piece of work is person! - Shakespeare, corrected"). It's already well known that members of the ArbCom sometimes aren't what they appear to be.

Indeed, the Supreme Nine made no bones about the fact that it is OK to be a robot and a Wikipedia admin, as long as you are a relatively polite and reasonable robot (by the standards of all the other bots, Wiki enthusiasts, cyborg combinations of the two, etc) and using the online identity of a quite-possibly-fictional flesh based Wiki-fancier. Who could conceivably have been harvested and in a vat months ago.

The next email into Vulture Central was from Reg reader Vincent.

"I am currently watching the World Snooker championship, live from the Crucible on BBC," he wrote. "It is [20:58 GMT on 7 May] and the score is 14 frames to 12 between Higgins and Selby...decided to check Selby on Wikipedia. Here is what I read...'Selby now trails Higgins 11-14. However he eventually lost 18-15. The match lasted until 1am on Tuesday 8 May 2007.'

"Yep, Wikipedia could tell me the end result 3 hours before it even finished. I tried to call my bookie but unfortunately could not get through!"

Perhaps because he was busy editing Wikipedia, we thought, hoping to drum up a bit of business.

And indeed, it appears that Wikipedia did indeed make this astonishing prediction, though it got the result slightly wrong.

So there you have it. Wikipedia, like many other online resources and significant parts of the US military, seems to be overrun by bots; and now it's started to foretell the future.

Still, as long as it sticks to the snooker, only the bookies have anything to fear (or gain). ®

Seven Steps to Software Security

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