In my latest column for the Visual Thesaurus, I take a deep dive into deep, a word with a surprisingly tenacious hold on our shallow 21st-century minds. Deepfake, deep state, deep learning, Deep Throat: whether we want to convey complexity or mystery, we turn to a word with deep roots in the English language.
“Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey,” a series of deadpan, slightly surrealistic epigrams, originated on National Lampoon and became a recurring feature on Saturday Night Live between 1991 and 1998. Handey maintains a Deep Thoughts website with merch and a Deep Thought of the Day. Sample: “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
Full access to the column is restricted to subscribers. Here’s a taste:
The deep web — sometimes called the “hidden” or “invisible” web — is the part of the World Wide Web not indexed by standard search engines. A 2015 documentary called Deep Web explored this terra incognita: “decentralized, encrypted, dangerous, and beyond the law.” Deep learning, a sub-subset of artificial intelligence (AI), works with unstructured and unlabeled data to create everything from color names to games to medicine … or even Shakespearean sonnets. In 2018, a group of researchers trained a neural network on the Bard's vocabulary and rhyme patterns to develop Deep-Speare, which generated four-line poems that “scored high on rhyme and meter” but “overall lacked readability and emotion.” “Deep” here refers to the number of layers through which the data is transformed; deep learning architectures include deep neural networks and deep belief systems.
Read the rest of the column. Don’t miss the caption in which I reveal the origin of deep space!
Blog bonus #1:
Blog bonus #2:
California (my alumni magazine), June 2019: “Going Deep.”