The Reanimated A.I. Corpses of Saddam Hussein, Michel Foucault, and Warrior Queen Boudica Pick Winners in the NFL Playoffs Divisional Round
We asked Saddam if the Giants could contain Jalen Hurts
Among this week’s most fun episodes in new-tech horror was the widespread discovery of an app called “HistoricalFigures,” which allows users to “chat” with (simulacra of) well-known dead people from throughout history, whose “responses” are generated by a large language model, or A.I.
The business model of the app is to charge money for credit that allows you access to specific historical figures, like Isaac Newton (50 coins), Aristotle (50 coins), and Adolf Hitler (500 coins). But the vast majority of historical figures in its database -- including Geoffrey Chaucer, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Jeffrey Epstein -- are free to chat with.
Read Max depends entirely on reader subscriptions to cover expenses like “buying Hitler from the AI app to ask who he thinks will win the Super Bowl.”
The app seems to have first gotten attention when a tech-industry tweeter suggested it should be used in classrooms; as various indignant academics pointed out, because it is beyond the capabilities of the app to actually fact-check claims made by its characters, it probably should not be used in the classroom:
However, even if the app is not ready to help teachers in the classroom, it is extremely ready to help imaginative shitposters create content:
What else could this app be good for? With the NFL Playoffs entering the Divisional Round phase on Saturday, Read Max -- a newsletter about the future, but also sometimes about sports gambling -- has consulted a panel of historical figures in the app to pick winners, bets and discuss what they’ll be looking for this weekend.
I’ve asked each of our three panelists to set scorelines for all four games, and I’ve placed small bets on each game on behalf of our three panelists. After the weekend’s games, we’ll check in and see who’s ahead and who lost their A.I. shirts.
Introducing our panelists
Our panelists are:
Saddam Hussein (1937 - 2003), former president of Iraq.
Michel Foucault (1926 - 1984), historian and philosopher.
Boudica (died 60 or 61 C.E.), warrior queen of the Iceni tribe.
Impressive that the A.I. managed to correctly peg Saddam’s favorite team,but I have trouble believing that Boudica knows what American football is.
No. 4 Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 1 Kansas City
Line: Kansas City -8.5
Saddam: Kansas City 27, Jacksonville 17
Michel: Kansas City 31, Jacksonville 20
Boudica: Jacksonville 28, Kansas City 24
Saddam and Michel both have the Chiefs beating the spread, but none of our panelists are taking the over.
No. 6 Giants at No. 1 Philadelphia Eagles
Line: Eagles -7.5
Saddam: Eagles 24, Giants 20
Michel: Eagles 27, Giants 23
Boudica: Eagles 27, Giants 23 (revised from Eagles 24, Giants 20)
All three panelists have the Giants beating the spread; Michel and Boudica take the over.
No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals at No. 2 Buffalo Bills
Line: Bills -5.5
Saddam: Buffalo “by double digits”
Michel: Buffalo 28, Cincinnati 27
Boudica: Cincinnati 24, Buffalo 20
Michel and Boudica both think the Bengals can cover the spread, but there’s some division on whether to take the over.
No. 5 Dallas Cowboys at No. 2 San Francisco 49ers
Line: 49ers -3.5
Saddam: Dallas 17, San Francisco 14
Michel: Slight edge to Dallas
Boudica: Dallas 13, San Francisco 10
All three panelists expect the Cowboys to cover, and the consensus seems to be on the under.
Until next week ~~
I had to ask Saddam how he became a Cowboys fan. Turns out it was Super Bowl XII: