Do you feel like the Stanford Bear?

I was asked just now if I felt like the Stanford Bear. I had to laugh, because sometimes I do.

What's the Stanford Bear, you ask? That's a good question. I'll tell you what I know..

I heard a story recently of an introductory computer class at Stanford University where the Teaching Assistants were so tired of answering the same questions over and over again that they programmed a machine to answer all the commonly asked questions. They added voice-recognition software to it and packaged it up nicely in a large teddy bear that sat on a shelf at one end of the class. Now, when a student had a problem or question, the TA's wouldn't help the student unless they knew that they had gone to the bear first. This relieved much of the workload from the TA's so that they could focus on the problems that really required their attention.

I'll admit that I don't know how much truth there is in this story. I spent some time scanning the internet and I couldn't find any pages to corroborate the tale. I'd like to think that it's true though.

True or not, it got me to wondering as to whether or not you could program something to give out canned answers on Software Testing to commonly asked questions.

I don't think that you could do it so that it would recognise every possible context and provide you with an appropriate response for every situation. (While a cool idea, let's be realistic here!) However, within a particular context - say revolving around the particular testing procedures for a particular class or industry, I'd think this might be do-able.

Better yet, I think it might be cool to program a Testing Bear that's hooked up to a central database somewhere. That way, people could program the Bear to answer all the common questions within their context, but then people all over the world would have access to the same questions and answers.

Now that might be something! Hmm.

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