Re: [BITS] Skewering AI for Fun and Profit -- 230 Final Exam

Gregory Alan Bolcer (
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 11:20:10 -0800

I was just using off the cuff numbers, but there are all sort
of factors that I drudged out of my brain from reading somewheres.
1997 America Reads Challenge and the 1994 National Assessment of
Educational Progress both cite numbers that more than 40%
of fourth graders cannot read at the most basic level, indicating that
they could not understand the "overall meaning of the text". Now
of course 4th graders I know don't go through the drive throughs
at McDonalds, and hopefully neither do the legally blind. They
also found in a 1993 Survey of Adult Literacy that some 90 million
Americans, nearly half the adult population, have severely limited
literacy skills.

Start adding in non-English speakers, attention deficiters, and yes even
far-sightednessers. You are starting to talk about a major chunk
of the big mac buying public.

Illiteracy has many definitions, not just the complete inability
to read and write. There are many degrees of illiteracy. Having
little or no formal education, inferiority to an expected standard
of familiarity with language and literature, violating prescribed
standards of speech, can all be interpreted to apply here.

As to your most relevant question, what percentage of adults is
unable to read a meal order from a large illuminated display?
I don't know and the best approach is to just do it. Those who
can't read will be too ashamed and take what they can get, what
they server thinks they ordered. Perhaps another relevant statistic
is what percentage of people knowing what they ordered and had
confirmed it on the large illuminated screen, actually turn back
and complain to get their order right? I would guess it's less
than 1 in 5. That's the paradox of fast food.


> > [...] No matter that 40% of all adults
> > in this country have some reading disability even to the point of
> > being illiterate [...]
> What exactly does this sentence mean? At first, it seems to imply that 40%
> of the adults in this country are illiterate or almost illiterate due to
> some reading disability. But actually it states only that 40% have some
> reading disability (does this include far-sightedness?), and that some of
> these are consequently illiterate. The relevant question is, what percentage
> of adults is unable to read a meal order from a large illuminated display?
> Any guesses, or better yet, actual facts?
> - Joe