Open Thread Thursday: Watson (artificial intelligence software)

From Wikipedia (Watson (artificial intelligence software))

Watson is an artificial intelligence program developed by IBM, designed to answer questions posed in natural language.[2] Named for IBM’s initiator, Thomas J. Watson,[3] Watson is being developed as part of IBM’s DeepQA research project.[4] The program operates on POWER7 processor-based systems.

In 2011, Watson competed on the television quiz show Jeopardy! as a test of its abilities.[3] In a two-game, combined-point match broadcast in three Jeopardy! episodes broadcast from February 14–16, Watson bested Brad Rutter, the biggest all-time money winner on Jeopardy!, and Ken Jennings, the record holder for the longest championship series.[5][6] Watson received the first prize of $1 million, while Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter received $300,000 and $200,000, respectively. Jennings and Rutter pledged to donate half their winnings to charity, while IBM divided Watson’s winnings between two charities. This was the first human-versus-machine competition in Jeopardy!’s history.[7]

In the match, all contestants, including Watson, had to wait until the host spoke each clue entirely, then a light was lit as a signal; the first to activate their buzzer button won the chance to answer. Watson typically activated its button faster, and only had trouble answering a few categories, such as clues for the names of keys on a typical computer keyboard, or recent events. For each clue, Watson’s 3 most probable answers were displayed by the television screen. Watson had access to 200 million pages of structured and unstructured content consuming four terabytes of hard disk storage,[8] including the full text of Wikipedia.[9] Watson was not connected to the Internet during the game.[10][11]

This is our Open Thread. Feel free to discuss the moral implications of thinking computers and the future of the human race. Or, whatever strikes your fancy.

About WonderGoon

WonderGoon is seeking enlightenment and questions everything.
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4 Responses to Open Thread Thursday: Watson (artificial intelligence software)

  1. Skatha says:

    Aren’t we all lazy enough as it is? I know Wall-E was a children’s flick, but there was an important message in it, too. Allowing computers to become so intelligent that they take over and pretty much do everything for us will make us fat and extra-ordinarily lazy.

    And, as another robot (still a computer) infested movie, I Robot, pointed out, while you can be very intelligent and all sorts of “smart” things, emotion does come into play in a lot of the things we do throughout our lives. It’s a mixture of our emotional intelligence and our book intelligence and “street” intelligence and the levels of each that makes us who we are. There will come a time when it’s not a matter of doing the “smart thing”; that one’s emotional intelligence comes into play. Sure, there are humans who lack emotional intelligence, but we don’t seek to duplicate them do we? No, we label them sociopaths and psychopaths and seek to lock them up and keep them away from society. In many ways I don’t see much of a difference between an “intelligent” computer and a socio- or psychopath.


    • WonderGoon says:

      The problem, as I see it, and this is probably from reading/watching too much robot-related sci-fi, is that intelligent computers might think that we are no longer required and seek to end us, ah la Battlestar Galactica or Terminator.

      Thanks for commenting.


  2. storydad says:

    I love AI research. Fun stuff, I wonder how it does on other practical tests, like acting as a medical expert system doing diagnosis.


    • WonderGoon says:

      Don’t know about its other applications. I imagine we will learn more about it as it develops.

      Aside: Personally, I’m getting used to saying “Hail Watson! Lord of Earth!” so when it does take over, I can survive the Purges. 😀 😉 (There’s that sci-fi influence, again!)


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