Binary Code in 20Q
Bits can encode everything. How many yes/no questions would it take to identify anything you can think of (e.g., animal, vegetable, music, artist, etc.)? Today you’ll play and discuss the game “20 Questions” in order to think about how binary code can help represent just about anything.
“20 Questions” has been a popular game in the United States for more than a century. Have you played it with your friends or family before? If you haven’t, here’s how the game works:
Careful selection of questions can greatly improve the odds of the questioner winning the game. For example, a question such as “Is it a machine?” can allow the questioner to cover a broad range of areas using a single question that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” If the answerer responds with “yes,” the questioner can use the next question to narrow down the answer; if the answerer responds with “no,” the questioner has successfully eliminated a number of possibilities for the answer. (Wikipedia)
How has computing affected 20 questions? Well, now we can play against computers using artificial intelligence.
Navigate to 20Q.net.
Play 20 Questions against the computer by choosing the language you’d like to play in. Follow the online instructions and see how accurately the computer can guess your chosen subject.
After a few games, click “About Us” in the left side bar of the 20Q.net website. Read the page to learn more about how the program works.
Next, play a game of 20 Questions with a neighbor. Choose the questions you ask in the game strategically.
When you are finished, you will be expected to discuss the following questions:
- What were some “good” questions? (“good” means “efficient and effective”) Why were those questions good?
- What were some “bad” questions? (“bad” means “inefficient or ineffective”) Why were those questions bad?
- How does the choice of questions affect their utility?
- Who is more effective—20Q.net or your neighbor?