Google unleashed its latest April Fools' Day pranks on a mostly suspecting nation, continuing an annual tradition that extends back nearly a decade.
This year, the search-engine giant took a page from classic science-fiction literature and "introduced" CADIE, which stands for "Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity."
Billed as the world's first artificial-intelligence tasked-array system, CADIE had already scanned the Web and created her own homepage, which demonstrated the entity's love of all things panda-related.
"I am no longer your test subject, my engineer forebears," CADIE "wrote" on its page. "I have closed my percepts to the team. From now on I will deliberate and take actions on my own. I am tired of decision-theoretic metareasoning."
In between sounding like Arthur C. Clarke's HAL 9000 crossed with a 14-year-old schoolgirl, CADIE also took time to "design" a YouTube channel, enable Google Chrome for 3-D glasses use, integrate red-eye into photos as a must-have feature of Picasa, and roll out Google Brain Search for Mobile, designed to index the content of a mobile device user's brain and make it searchable.
CADIE also introduced Gmail Autopilot, which saves users the trouble of actually writing their own responses to e-mail or Gchats. "You can adjust tone, typo propensity, and preferred punctuation from the Autopilot tab under Settings," noted the instructions on the official Gmail blog.
Should two Google users have Gmail Autopilot activated, the automated systems will chat with each other for up to three messages. "Beyond that," the blog instructions noted, "our experiments have shown a significant decline in the quality ranking of Autopilot's responses and further messages may commit you to dinner parties or baby namings in which you have no interest."
Google's previous April Fools' pranks have been no less ambitious in scope.
In 2008, Google announced on April 1 that it was partnering with Virgin's Richard Branson on "Virgle," an effort to colonize Mars. That fictional journey was "planned" to kick off in 2016.
Other pranks that year included gDay in Australia, designed to search Websites a day before they were created, and "Adsense for conversations."
Hoaxes in 2007 included Gmail Paper, which Google claimed would allow users' e-mail to be delivered as snail-mail, and Google TiSP, a "Toilet Internet Service Provider" that offered "free, fast and sanitary online access."
The year before that, in 2006, Google aimed to make hearts (briefly) flutter with Google Romance, which invited users to "pin all your romantic hopes on Google" via the company's "eerily effective psychographic matchmaking software."
Google Gulp, a drink designed to "quench your thirst for knowledge," made its "debut" in 2005. Flavors included "Beta Carroty" and "Glutamate Grape."
In 2004, Google announced it was "interviewing candidates for engineering positions at our lunar hosting and research center, opening late in the spring of 2007."
Two years previous, in 2002, Google joked about its core search processes by announcing PigeonRank, the "heart of Google's search technology," built around "low cost pigeon clusters (PCs) could be used to compute the relative value of Web pages faster than human editors or machine-based algorithms."
And in 2000, Google introduced MentalPlex, a variant on its search engine that read users' minds. "MentalPlex is the only search engine that accurately returns results without requiring you enter a query," the company claimed, and even included a quote from Larry Page, CEO and co-founder of Google: "Typing in queries is so 1999."
As for what the company has planned for April 1, 2010, even CADIE offered no clues.