Q: What is the meaning of life?


“Q: What is the meaning of life?

A: The Meaning of Life is the title of a 1983 Monty Python film. Alternatively, according to Douglas Adams in the HH’s Guide to the Galaxy, it is 42.”
This is the answer given by 82ask, a mobile text knowledge service.  You can text your question (a £1 a go) via your mobile (from any one of the 183 GSM countries the company serves) to a text number and it sends you back an answer…apparently within minutes (as an example on the website, the answer to the question: ‘How tall are smurfs?’ was returned in 2 minutes.).
 
According to a BBC article, the service works by having humans doing your surfing (not smurfing) on your behalf, plus building a database of questions and answers for automated responses.  If they don’t know the answer, you don’t get charged. (It is not clear what happens if there is a dispute…e.g. I’m thinking of asking: “What number am I thinking of?”…even if they guessed correctly, how could they prove it?).
 
I wonder when/if the phone operators will launch their own ‘Pay-As-You-Know’ service…?
 

Comments (5)

  1. Actually, tecnically, 42 is just the answer to, you know, Life, the Universe, Everything.
    I don’t believe Douglas Adams (or Zaphod Beeblebrox or Arthur Dent or Trillian or Ford Prefect for that matter) ever pondered the Meaning of Life.

  2. Bryan Archer says:

    http://www.82ask.com/privacy.cgi was producing an Access Forbidden error!

    I got an answer in seconds:

    "Thanks for letting us know, we’ll look into it"

  3. Clinton Pierce says:

    Back when I was a kid, this was called "Calling the reference desk at the Library." Times, they are a-changing.

  4. Pete Martin says:

    I discovered 82ASK have a policy of not guessing anything – so if you ask "What number am I thinking of?" they will come back with something like: "We are sorry, but there is no publically available information with which we can answer your question. You have not been charged." I’m quite hooked on using their service as their answers often contain interesting extra info, and if you need to know something fast they are great. The fact you can sign up on their website and get some free credits is a bonus!