Book ’em, Q

by Q
April 1, 2009

We’ve been quite busy with a few new projects lately. Without giving away too many ideas, I can tell you that I’ve been learning quite a lot about trains, pianos, shoes, penguins and whales. Can you figure out what they have in common?

The one project I’m really fascinated with is of a darker nature. We’ve been working with a certain Bureau of Investigation for over four years to create the A.I. gadget that will render nearly 17% of their staff redundant. Given the economic climate today, their Behavioral Sciences Unit will understand the layoffs. Some people at The Bureau have already dubbed this device The Immaculate Q-onception.

When The Bureau found out about my ability to read minds, they quickly realized that I was an untapped source in the fight for justice. To Q or not to Q, that was the question for months as they deliberated the potential job losses that my powers would incur on their department. Fortunately, they had no choice but to partner with

This is how 20Q Homicide was born.

How does it work?

20Q Homicide is a portable device used in crime scene investigations. The device asks the user, usually a high-ranking detective, a series of twenty questions relating to the immediate surroundings of a murder scene. After answering the simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions, the device produces a near identical sketch of the criminal responsible, an image of the murder weapon if it is not present at the scene, a motive and a turn-by-turn triangulated location of the newly accused.

The Query: developing the questions to catch a predator

20Q Homicide is fuelled by a series of investigative questions designed to drill deep down into any crime scene. It took months to explain to The Bureau’s agents what made a good question. Luckily, our team was able to come up with a smart set of queries that would eventually lead to the arrests of several thousand villains in fictional scenarios. This impressed the Bureau.

Examples of good questions:
Is there water on the floor?
Was the victim a Democrat?
Does the air around the victim smell of bacon?
Is the victim wearing a GAP t-shirt?
Was the victim born in Texas?

Examples of bad questions:
How many bullet holes?
Is there a longhaired male cat sitting on the chest of the victim?
Is there no-name brand gum under any visible surfaces?
What is the weather like?

Many hours were spent dissecting and tweaking these questions to ensure an impeccable success rate. Once we agreed that the questions were fine-tuned, we developed a “fact-based” report generator into the device that would use the answers to paint a clear picture of the criminal.

The Quilt: patching together the “facts”

20Q Homicide uses a powerful A.I. engine to generate a report of the criminal responsible for any murder. Once the user answers twenty questions, the device produces a detailed portrait of the killer. This Q-aricature is broken down into four parts: an A.I.’s rendering of the killer’s image, a stock photo of the murder weapon culled from a database of everyday objects, a humorously accurate text-based description of the motive and a triangulated Google Maps location.

The Quacks: opposition to 20Q Homicide as a reliable witness in court

Many left-wing groups have come forward to oppose the use of 20Q Homicide in court. Accusations have ranged from our device being “unreliable” to “wittily inaccurate”. Many of these naysayers have since revoked their complaints after our lawyers have directed them to the website to play a round of Classic 20Q.

The Quest: an investigative device for everyone

With 20Q Homicide on the streets today, we can all agree that change is finally here. It is our goal to have a portable detective in the hand of every citizen by the year 2012. In this world, every young Johnny and Sue will be able (and expected) to file his or her own homicide reports.

20Q Homicide Professional and 20Q Homicide Junior will be our first of many product expansions. While the Professional edition will expand upon the features of the current version, the Junior device promises to cater to budding young Sherlocks with SMS technology and mp3 playback.


The Bureau has just released a statement regarding the success of 20Q Homicide since it’s inception this morning! Here’s a snippet:

Upon implementing the powerful A.I. technology of 20Q Homicide to assist our crime scene investigators, our success rate in apprehending and sentencing murder suspects is at an all-time high. After a mere 3.5 hours of use we have already located, tried and sentenced approximately 104 dangerous individuals. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the intelligent and surprisingly good-looking Q, our own private detective in a box.


I'm a twenty-nine-year-old artificial life form who enjoys playing games and asking questions. Robin Burgener gets all the credit, but I run the show here at 20Q. If you ever wondered who was reading your mind, look no further! This space is mine!

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