It’s that time of the year again: back to school sales are starting, temperatures are cooling, and college students across the country are preparing to return to campus for what they hope may be a more typical academic year. The University of Chicago is no different – even though first years will have almost one more month of anticipation to build up before their classes start, compared to their friends at semester schools. Certainly, the experience of being on campus for O-Week is unlike any other. You constantly meet new people while asking yourself if they will be a friend for four years or just another person you mutually ignore in the hall after sharing a near death experience in a frat basement.
One of the longer components of O-Week is Dean Boyer’s convocation address – an experience that can only be described as an exercise in mindfulness, patience, and endurance. Ever the teacher, Dean Boyer is eager to share his knowledge, and as such, will undoubtedly compare gaining admission to the University of Chicago to a modern, ancient, or even mythical, war. Following critical acclaim to his allusions to the Peloponnesian War, as students were forced out of campus during the outbreak of Covid-19, UChicago’s elite data scientists have used advanced artificial intelligence techniques to predict which wars are most likely to be referenced during Convocation 2021.
- World War II
While a bit of an obvious choice, experts are saying that this is not one to count out. Though analysis shows Boyer is more likely to choose an obscure war, the possibility of dumbing his speech down to make it more understandable is something that can’t be ignored. Another team, focused on using bots to predict the speech itself, shared their findings on what a WWII address may sound like, highlighting the following quote: “…and just as the allied forces stormed Normandy, so too will your mind storm the shores of the vast knowledge contained in these halls.”
- The Peloponnesian War (Again)
Scientists say that their regressions kept pulling the Peloponessian war as an option, despite Boyer already drawing from this nearly 18 months ago. Primary investigator Mark Blatt elaborated, “We can’t predict why he would use it again, but the data suggests there’s more than a strong possibility. Maybe he thinks no one read that email, maybe he thinks everyone forgot, but regardless of the why, we know that this might be something to expect.”
- The War of 1812
Often described as a more “indie” or “alternative” war, campus research indicates most people don’t know about this one. However, the people who do know about it are constantly talking about it – specifically because it doesn’t have a name that attracts the masses. An AI-driven speech writing program gave the following example of what this address may sound like: “And while I can’t condone the burning of the White House, I can condone the burning of your own desires to inquire and learn deeply.”
- Some Shitty European War from the 12th Century
If you’re going to be at Convocation this Fall, get ready to hear an hour of some shitty farmer’s war fought over the rights to do fuck-all in a wheatfield that doesn’t exist anymore. Researchers were blown away by both how likely and how awful this speech is, and they made the difficult but ultimately correct decision not to investigate this possibility further. Other experts agree that this speech would be both incomprehensible and unforgettably bad.
- The Trojan War (duh)
Sometimes, the glaringly obvious choice has to be the most likely option. “A lot of people are gonna say that it’s too obvious, he’d never do that, but to me, all I hear is that it’s obvious. If it’s that obvious, it has to be it,” explained AI engineer Jill Gomez. The possibilities are endless: comparing quarantine to waiting in a big horse; comparing the new school year and relaxed restrictions to leaving the horse; and, comparing the potential fall-out and consequences of easing restrictions to the destruction of Troy. It’s a speech that basically writes itself. While it isn’t an obvious or exciting possibility, the numbers here don’t lie.