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Test 1 / 30

My new friend’s a robot

In fiction, robots have a personality, but reality is disappointingly different. Although sophisticated enough to assemble cars and assist during complex surgery, modern robots are dumb automatons, incapable of striking up relationships with their human operators. However, change is on the horizon. Engineers argue that, as robots begin to make up a bigger part of society, they will need a way to interact with humans. To this end they will need artificial personalities. The big question is this: what does a synthetic companion need to have so that you want to engage with it over a long period of time? Phones and computers have already shown the extent|degree to which people can develop relationships with inanimate electronic objects.

Looking further ahead|forward, engineers envisage robots helping around the house, integrating with the web to place supermarket orders using email. Programming the robot with a human-like persona and giving it the ability to learn its users’ preferences, will help the person feel at ease with it. Interaction with such a digital entity in this context is more natural than sitting with a mouse and keyboard.

Test 2 / 30

Global English

Global English exists as a political and cultural reality. Many misguided theories attempt to explain why the English language should have succeeded internationally, whilst others have not. Is it because there is something inherently logical or beautiful about the structure of English? Does its simple grammar make it easy to learn? Such ideas are misconceived. Latin was once a major international language, despite having a complicated grammatical structure, and English also presents learners with all manner of real difficulties, not least its spelling system. Ease of learning, therefore, has little to do with it. after all, children learn to speak their mother tongue in approximately the same period of time, regardless of their language.

English has spread not so much for linguistic reasons, but rather because it has often found itself in the right place, at the right time. Since the 1960s, two major developments have contributed to strengthening this global status. Firstly, in a number of countries, English is now used in addition to national or regional languages. As well as this, an electronic revolution has taken place. It is estimated that in the region of 80% of worldwide electronic communication is now in English.