Weekend Big Data Project For long ages past, the sages of the internet have debated one of the knottiest questions of modern times, namely: Who would win in a fight - pirates, or ninjas?
Similarly, Hollywood has sought to determine whether Aliens or Predators (Predators of course are also aliens, technically the film should have been Aliens versus Other Aliens, but hey) would emerge victorious in a head-to-tentacle encounter. Lovable Brit laughsmiths Pegg and Frost have cinematically expressed the opinion that today's military would easily quell zombie hordes in a battle*; other auteurs have begged to differ.
So in fact the Great Question is more along the lines of: In a multiway last-one-standing battle scenario, which contingent would win - Zombies, the military, Ninjas, Alien aliens, Predator-aliens or Pirates? Who, of these groups, is the toughest and most deadly? Who, in short, would win in a fight?
Then of course, no discussion of this sort would be complete without mention of vampires. The immortal sundodging blood-guzzlers have surged to an unstoppable prominence in the "science fiction"** book and movie charts in recent times, a phenomenon said to be fuelled by the perception that it is more wholesome and entertaining for a young woman to have all her blood sucked out of her neck by an animated corpse than to have any sort of sexual encounter with a living human being. The struggle between vampires and werewolves has of course been tastefully portrayed through the medium of a heavily beweaponed Kate Beckinsale clad in form-fitting PVC (often wet through for entirely valid plot reasons).
Another major class of spec-fic** combat protagonist is, of course, robots - of varying size and type, directed by artificial intelligences either run amok or programmed to aid humanity (or on both sides at different times, or in more obscure examples by brains in bubbling jars, uploaded/downloaded human personalities etc). And of course sometimes the robots are inserted inside a cloak of living human flesh; or they might take the form of a tiny brain chip implanted in an otherwise normal human, monkey butler etc - though here perhaps we find ourselves back among the zombies.
Any debate which includes both aliens and robots would generally be compelled to at least touch on the idea of Jedi masters or other employers of mind tricks, psionics, effulgent cutlery and/or other hokey religions and ancient weapons that may well in fact be a match for a good blaster at your side, kid. Though of course some might say that these are merely a kind of ninja - or that ninjas are a kind of Jedi/Sith.
It's an incredibly tricky subject, and one that's only made worse by rebellious monkey hordes, giant dinosaurs etc: and for god's sake nobody even mention elves, dwarves, trolls and that lot or we'll be here all day. It would seem that trying to decide which, of all these various types of protagonist, would win in a multiway deathmatch battle is an insoluble problem.
Time to get out the Data Hammer
But if the internet has taught us anything***, it's that Big Data can solve any problem at all. Thus it is that we here at the Weekend Register have decided to bring down the mighty data sledgehammer of the Cloud onto the uncrackable nut of the robot/pirate/ninja/vampire/etc deathmatch wrangle. Or perhaps the data cutlass of Analytics to cleave the tangled knot of simulated lycanthropic/alien/supertrooper combat.
The first thing you learn at Big Data school, of course (or alternatively you could learn it from the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy) is that you can't get a useful answer until you know what the actual question is.
Actually that's the second thing you learn at Big Data school - on day one they teach you that wherever possible you should get people to give you data for free rather than paying for it.
Thus it is that we shall slurp our data from you, our loyal readers, offering you no reward but the knowledge that you are pushing back the frontiers of human knowledge and, by so doing, settling a million arguments in a million pubs. And we shall do so through the medium of the poll below, which seeks to harvest a data set that will tell us exactly who and what classes of contender should be entered in our colossal battle of pop-culture data gladiators (bugger. Gladiators?)
Once we have the question settled, we can then move on to determine the answer (who would win in a fight), using the same technique of harnessing many human brains to achieve unparalleled processing power.
So here we go, and don't forget to click Submit at the end, so as to make sure your data reaches the Bigness:
We'll be back next week with the next stage of this fiendishly complex Big Data project, whatever that turns out to be. Please do also share your thoughts through the medium of text in the comments. We'll shovel these and their associated up-n-downvotes into our powerful analytical engines along with the pollslurp yield. ®
*At the end of Shaun of the Dead we hear the crisp no-nonsense order given: "Zombies. To your front. In your own time, go on", after which a brisk burst of gunfire settles the undead horde without difficulty. Max Brooks has the world's militaries finding the task rather more bothersome in World War Z.
**We are aware that many aficionados a) hate the abbreviation "sci-fi", b) consider that vampires are in any case to be filed rather under "horror", "fantasy" or "bollocks", c) prefer some science or anyway some spaceships in their content - or all of the above. We had toyed with the term "scientifiction", as used in some cases by sci-fi publishers of long ago, but would also advance "spec-fic" as a perhaps equally annoying contraction of speculative fiction in general.
***Other things the internet has taught us:
1) Cats are fluffy bundles of joy and not vicious, cowardly, bullying killer torturers with sidelines in inappropriate vomiting, bottom-licking etc.
2) Careers in pizza delivery or pool hygiene, far from being dull and unrewarding, are really surprisingly interesting and fulfilling.
3) Everything is free with no hidden costs.
Hmm. Maybe Big Data isn't all it's cracked up to be, maybe nobody everybody really needs all this big iron and enterpriseware and clouds and (Shut it. - The Publishers.)