Smart assistants. How smart are they, really? Many people report that three times out of four, they don’t get the answers they were looking for from Alexa, Siri, and a number of other programs designed to make our lives easier. Either the task needs to be repeated endlessly before it’s successful, or the task is just performed downright wrong.
Either way, it’s become clear that smart assistants are not quite as smart as they’re marketed to be.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun with their flaws.
That’s why the NYU Game Center’s promising director Frank Lantz decided to turn the universal trials and tribulations with smart assistants into a game called Hey Robot! Its players compete to get their smart assistants to perform a task correctly before their opponents’ does. The game comes with a selection of words, tested and found to be extra problematic. One element of the game makes them get the smart assistant to say a word without being prompted by the word itself. People have compared it to another popular game, Taboo.
“The game works because the devices don’t work that great,” said Frank Lantz, one of the game’s creators. “It’s very funny. You think, ‘Oh this is going to be easy. How hard can this be?’ Of course, it turns out that there’s nothing easy about it. But that’s just the beauty of the game: instead of having the not-so-smart assistant errors messing up the day, players can let some stress off by enjoying their shortcomings with other friends in a fun, relaxed setting.
Lantz dreamt up the idea for Hey Robot with his wife Hilary one night – right in the middle of dinner. They started playing around with Alexa, and after enough laughable mistakes they began tallying how many more she would make, calling the count “Alexa Tennis.” It wasn’t long before they dreamt up system for digging out the best of the worst Alexa moments.
“Instantly, we were hooked,” Lantz says. “We stayed up all night trying to get different words.”
With the help of their son and daughter-in-law, the Lantz’s managed to fully develop the game and are publishing the game through their company Everybody House Games. They’ve just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project, with a goal of $10,000. With the potential for party entertainment, it’s expected to go far.
The Ancient God
We Earthlings (using this term in case there are aliens out there,) have a tendency to look for God everywhere — in nature, in each other, and now even on Mars. See below a rock that resembles a Neo-Assyrian god that was spotted on the surface of the planet.
The sighting has been credited to a phenomenon called pareidolia wherein one sees a human face in an inanimate object. Or maybe the aliens are secretly worshiping their own gods.
A Wild Donut
A donut-shaped object was spotted on an image taken by NASA’s Mars Opportunity Rover. The object suddenly appeared in a set of before and after images, out of nowhere! Cue the mysterious background music…
NASA has debunked any rumor regarding this object, stating that it’s not an alien fungus but simply a donut-shaped rock dislodged by the rover. Regardless, it’s better to believe that the aliens have taken a liking for donuts!
A Hovering Spoon
A spoon was spotted on the surface of planet mars, seeming to hover over the ground. In the photo taken by the Curiosity Mars rover, the spoon-like object can be seen levitating at the bottom of this photo towards the center.
This phenomenon happens because the pull of gravity isn’t as strong on Mars as it is on Earth. As a result, fragile structures like this can hold up more easily without crumbling to pieces.
Obviously, there’s no actual way any blueberry made its way to the Red Planet’s surface. But a photo taken of the surface revealed a whole field of spherical little blue rocks that look like berries from afar!
Researchers are still trying to decipher the mystery of the blueberries in outer space, but until then, we strongly advise not to try to eat any if you end up on this planet by chance.
It seems Mars has developed a hol-(e)-y issue, but not the kind involving god. A photo captured near the planet’s south pole shows a perfectly circular hole near the surface.
The stuff at the bottom of the hole is frozen carbon dioxide, and its estimated size is at least a few hundred meters across. The correct number can’t be determined as we’ve only seen it from orbit so far.
To this date, there has been no sign of life on Planet Mars. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some bizarre sightings up there. This photo shows something that looks like an iguana.
Even though some people have asserted that it’s simply an iguana-shaped rock, others disagree. Scott C. Waring, the owner of the UFO Daily Sightings Blog, has commented how believing that it’s just a rock would be a very close-minded observation.
The Great Pyramid
It seems the ancient Egyptians reached into the outer galaxy to build their beloved structures. This ‘pyramid’ seen circled below sent conspiracy theorists and UFO enthusiasts into a frenzy.
Some have gone so far as to call it a message sent from the ancient civilization. According to Dr. Jim Bell of the Curiosity program, it’s really just a rock, but for the public, the alien theory sounds like a more interesting story to tell.
The Kirkwood Spheres
A 2012 mystery photo remains unsolved to this very day. The Opportunity rover captured a shot a decade ago of this unique formation off of Mark’s Kirkwood outcrop.
Even though the formation looks similar to those of the blueberries, NASA has stated that these spherical growths do not have the iron-rich composition of the blueberries. They also differ in concentration, distribution, and structure. These puzzling cells seem like the perfect mystery for all the alien enthusiasts!
It seems like some devils follow you whether you’re on Earth or in space. The occurrence of dust devils was confirmed on the Martian surface as a hazardous phenomenon, something future humans will have to figure out how to protect themselves from.
First spotted by the Opportunity rover, the weather phenomena confirmed all the theories scientists had about there being little twisters on Mars. Now, all the rovers that go there are equipped against dust devils.
Is it Beaker?
The Muppets seemed to have spread their magic all across the galaxy, from Earth to Mars. An image taken in Mars’ south pole area shows a shape on the surface that looks like, you guessed it, Beaker the lab assistant from the Muppets.
The conclusion for this cartoon’s appearance has been credited to the areas of frozen carbon dioxide that are chock full of mesas and pits that sometimes form interesting shapes.
The Jake Matijevich Rock
This super famous rock (not to be confused with all-around hero Dwayne Johnson) is one of the most well-known from the planet of Mars. It’s made a name for itself as it is composed of minerals typically found in Earth’s core. Another unsolved mystery for the researchers…
The rock has been named after NASA engineer Jake Matijevich, who was involved in developing the Sojourner, Spirit, Curiosity, and Opportunity rovers.
Bigfoot or a Statue?
It seems like Earthly mysteries have also been making secret sojourns to outer space. In 2007, the Spirit Rover captured yet another unusual photo. What you’re seeing showcases some rock formations that look like a statue, or maybe even Bigfoot!
UFO Daily Sightings has blamed the aliens, stating that they put up a female statue there. However, The Planetary Society debunked that claim, saying that it is most likely just an optical illusion.
The Egg Rock
This smooth meteorite was discovered by the Curiosity rover in 2016. The egg rock was spotted at the base of Mars’ Mount Sharp in the Gale crater and is made of rare iron and nickel.
The golf ball-sized object might resemble an egg, but there is nothing food-like about the rock. According to scientists, the meteorite may have fallen to the surface of Mars millions of years ago. At least it got to keep its cool name!
In 2021, the Curiosity Rover managed to capture an unfamiliar and shiny object on the red planet. Scientists have since confirmed that the strange sighting is most likely a part of geology on Mars.
The most astounding part of this finding is that the entire photograph covers just 1.6 inches, so the fact that the rover was able to pick it up at all is pretty impressive! What do you think it resembles?
A Human Bone
This was an image that set the conspiracy theorists’ minds on fire and gave birth to many new ideas about the galaxy. Many believe that this fractured resembles a human bone!
Despite what the object looks like, it is in actuality just a bone-shaped rock. Even knowing that, it’s hard to distinguish between a human bone and this suspicious-looking rock. Or maybe the ancients just got there before us, right?
A Martian avalanche has been caught on camera several times. Similar to how it happens on Earth, once the weather warms up and the ice (made from carbon dioxide) starts melting, avalanches are triggered on the cliffs of Mars.
These icefalls were first sighted on Mars back in 2008 and the most recent image was taken in 2020. There is no doubt that the phenomenon is a spectacular sight to behold, especially on the Red Planet.
It seems Mars is pretty good at deceiving humans, and that’s no surprise considering its namesake is the Roman god of war. This captured photo shows a crater that resembles a tadpole to an astonishing degree.
After much deliberation, it was determined that the tail slithering out of the body was actually just water movement and Mars remained as amphibian-less as ever. Sorry to disappoint!
These dragon scales are in actuality anything but. They’re in fact part of a hillside that looks like scales due to water erosion. Scientists are still at loose ends trying to figure out the nature of the water that caused the erosion.
Some experts believe that it could’ve been the dry ice sliding down the mountain. Whatever the truth is, we think that this looks like a close-up of a scene out of Game of Thrones. Who’s with us?
At first glance, this photo — captured by the Curiosity rover — appears to be an ordinary shot of the surface of Mars. But a closer inspection reveals what looks like a strange creature hiding in the creases of the cliffs.
A Facebook group resorted to decoding the mystery themselves and zoomed in on the strange creature, finding it to resemble a crab monster. The scientists have since debunked this and attributed the image to a play of lights and shadows.
The Kissy Face
The phenomenon of pareidolia is a regular occurrence while going through the photos taken on Mars. This photo shows some sort of humanoid making a kissy face! To whom, we can’t really say.
Even though it is true that the most hardcore skeptics will find it hard to argue with this likeness, in actuality it’s just another rock formation. Or maybe it was Valentine’s Day in outer space that day!
Martian Morse Code
It seems like the Men in Black might have to get back to business because this looks serious. The Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this unusual photo of some odd formations on the surface of Mars that could pass as Morse code.
Before you start trying to decode this sequence, NASA has confirmed that the limited sand on Mars has caused the dunes here to create dots and dash shapes. We were also hoping for a cooler response.
Egg rocks and now waffle island. It appears that the Martians are preparing for a lavish brunch or something. This waffle-shaped island, which was snapped by the Reconnaissance orbiter in 2014, measures around 1.2 miles wide.
The area appears to look like one of our favorite breakfasts because it’s located in an area with lots of lava flows, giving that zig-zaggy waffle look. Regardless, it does look good enough to pour maple syrup on, don’t you agree?
A Human Face
This photo, taken by the Viking 1 and 2 orbiters, is probably one of the most famous shots from the Red Planet. Why? Well, take a look for yourself and see. Do you also see those masked faces on the surface that seem to jut out of the ground?
These photos, when initially taken, were with low resolution and clearly depicted human faces. However, newer and high-resolution images show that it’s actually a mountain structure that doesn’t resemble a face at all!
Evidence of Water
Humans’ obsession with Mars has only skyrocketed over the last few decades. One of the biggest questions with this planet is whether there is any liquid water. Some scientists have even suggested that the entire planet has been made up of numerous lakes.
Recent evidence indicates that liquid water did exist on the planet for about a million years, and didn’t all dry up all at once. The water exists majorly as ice today or in small quantities as vapor in the atmosphere.
Light on the Horizon
Apparently, seeing a light on the horizon in Mars does not indicate one is dying, but instead was taken as a sign of life on the Red planet. This photo taken by the Curiosity rover in 2014, shows what appears to be light on the horizon, which gave birth to multiple alien rumors.
NASA researchers were quick to dispel the extraterrestrial enthusiasts and clarified that the light was most likely caused by cosmic ray hits.
A Little Bit Fishy
At first glance it looks like there’s a fish on Mars, and a second look reveals the same result. Alas, it’s not a fish but instead a rock shaped like a fish fossil, confusing researchers and exciting the conspiracy theorists all at once!
Talking about this faux fish, NASA responded, “Mars likely never had enough oxygen in its atmosphere and elsewhere to support more complex organisms. Thus, large fossils are not likely.” Say goodbye to Nemo on Mars!
The most beautiful patterns ever created are found in nature. And it’s true for those found on Mars too. First found in 2012, these lava coils resemble corkscrew snail shells, and are the result of ancient lava flows on Mars.
The Martian lava coils are about 100 feet across which is much larger than their terrestrial counterparts that are often only a foot or so in size. It seems like Mars has the upper hand on Earth in creating beautiful patterns.
Random Metal Piece
The Curiosity rover captured an image in 2013 that showed a small hunk of metal lying on the surface of Mars. As it happens with any unusual find, the alien watchers had all kinds of theories based on the metal.
Unfortunately, the metal is most likely a piece of meteorite captured in the right light. Or it’s possible that Thor visited Mars and left his hammer on the surface, right? Well, at least that’s what we like to believe.
This photo, captured by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows a unique-looking crater that’s shaped like everyone’s favorite old-school video game hero. Could Pac-Man really be residing on Mars?
While this is one of the more peculiar sightings on Mars, the likely truth is that the impact of a crater with a crescent-shaped sand dune inside caused this. We know this answer is a total anti-climax, sorry to disappoint again guys!
An Active Volcano
Mars has many naturally occurring phenomena that make it a wonder. From the discovery of water to the lava coils and avalanches. So, when the European Space Agency’s Express orbiter took this image, many rightfully believed it was evidence of an active volcano.
However, it turned out that it was actually a small cloud that was situated very close to the Arisa Mons shield volcano. It seems like this is one wonder we’ve kept strictly to Earth.
Butt Crack Rock
Even the rocks on Mars aren’t spared from being the butt of jokes it seems. Get it? In this photo captured by NASA’s perseverance rover in February 2021, a rock with an uncanny resemblance to one’s rear was found on the surface.
Space fans had a good laugh over this funny-looking rock in the Jezero crater and gave it the moniker of butt crack rock. We think that the rock also resembles a hot cross bun. You take your pick!
Angels in Space
The European Space Agency Mars Express captured a recent photo of the Red Planet’s south pole that had space enthusiasts feeling like heaven is actually on Mars. The photo showcased the print of an angelic figure next to a heart.
Before you let your creative juices flow on the meaning of this, the explanation of this phenomenon lies in the geology of the place. The head and the halo are imprints of an impact crater, while a sublimation pit formed the hand on the left.
It appears like the dinosaurs left Earth only to migrate to Mars a million years ago. Or it might be the overactive imagination of yet another scientist and software engineer like Kevin Gill who has been credited with finding many funny rocks in rover photos.
This one was snapped by Gill with the Perseverance rover in April of 2021. And yes, this rock does greatly resemble a Brachiosaurus. However, scientists are still looking for evidence of microbial life.
It seems like there’s an abundance of faces up on the surface of Mars. From gods to mere mortals, everybody has been covered. Another addition to this weird list is the Happy Face crater, captured both during 2011 and 2020 with minimal changes.
This crater is located in the south pole and it looks either like a happy yet creepy smile. The darkening of the outline has been attributed to the changing frost cover on the ground.
The space fans are forever on the lookout for interesting things, or giving strange things even stranger backstories. One such blog for UFO enthusiasts suggested that an object spotted by the Curiosity rover was actually a cannonball leftover from a war on Mars.
This theory was popular in December of 2017 before NASA promptly took to Twitter to point out how the object was actually made up of calcium, sulfate, sodium, and magnesium.
This photo of Bigfoot’s supposed skull was captured and paved the way for many alien conspiracies to come to light. They were quick to imagine a big, hairy version of aliens after spotting this skull among debris on Mars.
The Curiosity rover’s image taken in 2016 is in fact just a random rock. However, we can all understand why skeptics thought they were on to something more.
The Rock of Perseverance
It seems that the rocks on Mars are the celebrities of the planet because they’re always being snapped by the rovers and are the constant talk of international media outlets.
So, when this odd rock was captured by the Perseverance rover in March 2021, it wasn’t long until it made the news. Scientists and space fans have speculated it’s a weathered piece of bedrock, a chunk of Mars thrown from somewhere else by an impact event, or possibly a meteorite.
Pancakes in Outer Space
NASA’s Curiosity rover snapped this image resembling a flattish rock in November of 2020. The shape and color of the rock have been compared to many food items, from pancakes to melted chocolate ice cream.
There was also speculation around the shininess of the rock which has since been cleared up as being the result of the constant pressure of wind and sand on its surface. Regardless, if the Martians are still looking to add to their brunch menu, here’s another popular dish!
The Curiosity rover captures more than just the geology, it also documents the happenings in the sky. One such documentation unveiled shimmy, iridescent clouds in the Mars sky in March of 2021.
The clouds, which look like a mother of pearls close up, appear so because of the particles being nearly identical in size. According to atmospheric scientist Mark Lemmon, this happens just after clouds have formed and grown at the same rate.
This one seemed like the enthusiasts overreached a little, but it is still bizarre enough to warrant a mention. This object on the surface of Mars looks similar to a robot leg, or maybe even a puppy toy.
Captured by Curiosity rover in 2019, this is actually neither a boot nor a bot but just a rock shaped like one. Regardless, it’s not every day you find possible links to an AI invasion of Mars, right?
This bizarre-looking formation was snapped by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2017. The snapshot is a region known as Noctis Labyrinthus or labyrinth of the night. It seems that the intrigue lies not only in the object here, but also in the name.
NASA has explained the wavy areas around the mesa as sand dunes. They also stated that the area was heavily eroded, and the mesa was probably composed of sedimentary deposits that are being exhumed as it erodes further.
Stick it On
The Curiosity Rover Twitter account shared these photos in January of 2018. The images show some stick-like figures on the surface of Mars, about a quarter-inch long.
Scientists have speculated that these figures may in actuality be crystals or minerals filled in spaces where crystals had formed and then dissolved. Some Twitter users claimed what we’re actually seeing are either tire tracks or Viking runes. We’ll let you decide!
With a title like ‘The Case of the Martian Boulder Piles,’ these formations induce mystery from the very first look. Taken by Reconnaissance Orbiter in March of 2018, this image contains a series of boiler piles in a very orderly line.
According to NASA, the neat piles could have been a result of frost heave, a process which has been observed on Earth too. It seems we do have a lot of things in common with the Red Planet, after all!
A Rover Piece
The Curiosity rover has been instrumental in finding out more about Mars. A famous incident in 2012 resulted when the rover spotted an unusual and shiny object on the ground.
Speculations and jokes ran amuck, from it being Jimmy Hoffa’s cufflinks to an AOL CD. Finally, NASA announced that the object was actually a small piece of the rover itself that had fallen off. This was, as they say, an anti-climax!
It seems there is another cartoon character up on Mars. In an image captured by the HiRise camera team for NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the spacecraft seems to look like the mascot of Planters, Mr. Peanut.
The image was formed due to a collection of pits but one can’t help but see the famous logo upon viewing it. Just give him his accessories like his top hat and cane, and he’s ready to dazzle people up in space!