Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Computerized Tasseography

Computers programmed to read tea leaves
  (+3, -1)
(+3, -1)
  [vote for,

This is a system of software and hardware tied together to generate a fortune by reading the patterns created by random tea leaves on the inside surface of the cup. The system actually takes into consideration established tea leaf reading interpretations when creating the fortune. The loose tea is prepared in the standard manner, and the guest must drink nearly all of the cup, leaving a bit of liquid at the bottom. This liquid is swirled around and then the cup is inverted, first letting the remaining liquid run out into the saucer, and set onto a scanner bed. The cup must be placed so that the handle is oriented properly.

The scanner has been modified to allow it to read the inner surface of the cup. When the inner surface is scanned, the software will then analyze the image, re-orienting for its own clarity where necessary. It will search and compare through a database of preset images, mapping the location of the image with respect to the handle of the cup, as well as proximity to the bottom or lip of the cup and other imagery in close vicinity, and must also note the vertical orientation. (A right-side-up palm tree near the bottom of the cup, 20 degrees to the left of the handle, means something totally different than an upside-down palm tree near the lip of the cup, opposite the handle.)

Upon processing all of the identifiable imagery and formulating the fortune, the option to display on screen and/or print a hard copy would be given.

I came up with this because tea leaf reading lends itself particularly well to computer enhancement. I've seen hokey setups with palm reading using scanners and the like (and know some programmers who've written them). They invariably are not based on actual principles of palmistry.

This is not to suggest that I believe in such practices. I do not, but I think it would be interesting to write a program that adheres to the principles and actually generates a fortune based on what it 'sees', rather than pull one from a list of prewritten paragraphs.

I had an aunt who used to do this as a bit of an entertaining parlour trick, and it always fascinated me to watch her when I was a kid.

waugsqueke, Mar 31 2003

Some interpretations of tea leaves http://www.soyouwan...aves/tealeaves.html
(Originally contributed by DrCurry) [waugsqueke, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]


       If you pour the swill from the tea cup into the back of your computer, then you could interpret the pictures in the clouds of smoke it gives off.   

       Anyway, as I think I said last time round, the essential element in reading tea leaves, palms, bumps on the head, Tarot cards, etc., is the reader's knowledge of the victim, er, subject. A skilled practitioner can very quickly ferret out the "right," highly specific fortune by the subject's responses to initially vague statements.   

       So your computer should, in the background, be using the Internet to find out everything it can about the subject - credit history, careeer and medical information, marital status, etc. - then basing its actual predictions on that.
DrCurry, Mar 31 2003

       Excellent scam! I'm sure there are hundreds of mindless idiots who would love to have their tea leaves read by a computer.

I suggest a website where one can submit their own scanned photos of the bottom of their cups and a credit card number and get an instant reading.
ato_de, Mar 31 2003

       The thing about this system, no matter how great its scanning and pattern matching abilities are, is that it will not succeed. Ultimately, practices of mysticism depend on human interpretation to make it believable. If it were not so, then it would become a science that can easily be proven or disproven. By having a computer handle the interpretations, you remove the element of mysticism and the supernatural. Perhaps instead the computer can _help_ identify patterns or _help_ detect patterns that are not easily perceived by the human eye. Then, a "fortune teller" would "interpret" this data for the end-user as the "future."
wan-fu, Mar 31 2003

       The implication of that statement is that mystics using current methods do succeed. That's debatable.   

       But neither here nor there, really. This issue came up before. I blame it on a basic misunderstanding of the idea. The intent here is not to succeed in the same way as a mystic or medium would (notwithstanding that I think that's a bunch of hooey anyway), but to succeed solely on the merits as described in the idea. So, really, medium interpretation is irrelevent to the idea.   

       That said, I would bet this system would have an equal likelihood of being just as 'accurate' as any medium.   

       [ato_de - the operative motive here, from my perspective at least, is described in the second-from-last paragraph.]
waugsqueke, Mar 31 2003

       I think the operative motive here is money. There are fools who will spend money on anything. (Psychic hotlines, palm readings, phrenology, astrology, religion, etc.) Accuracy is unimportant, it is all about the show. Creat a "Mystic" web site and they will come, bringing their wallets behind them.
ato_de, Apr 01 2003

       //There are fools who will spend money on anything//   

       How people spend their "entertainment" money (or practice their religions...) should not be judged so harshly, ato-de. I personally think spending money on race cars, paintball, roller-skates, video games, and rap music is foolish. But, hey, it's their money.   

       And this gets a + from me. It would go well with my computer astrology program, tarot program, palm reading program....
OpheliaFrump, Apr 01 2003

       Psychology professor (and expert skeptic) Ray Hyman wrote an interesting article, in which he claimed that some divination practices, like dowsing for water, are actually rational methods of making a decision even though they have no scientific basis. Because if you have to choose between different options and you have no way of telling which is best, using a random method to make predictions is better than standing around just thinking what to do.
pottedstu, Apr 01 2003

       I want to know why some schmo who goes to all the trouble to set up image recognition for a palm-reading program would not actually try to make it conform to palm reading practices. If you were just going to make something up, you could do that without the image recognition. Sort of like the adventure games I used to program on the Apple II: you could type in any phrase you wanted, but a random number generator decided what you saw and how you fared.   

       I like palm reading better than the tea leaves because it would not entail drinking tea.
bungston, Apr 01 2003

       //I'm sure there are hundreds of mindless idiots who would love to have their tea leaves read by a computer.//   

       Me, for one. Croissant.
FloridaManatee, Apr 01 2003


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