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Jordan Heron - The Vanity Card Series

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So Watson is playing Jeopardy.

Living in the middle of nowhere, without cable or satellite, I'm not actually watching the shows as they air. However, an advantage of decent internet access at work means I can keep tabs on most events after the fact, which is good enough for me. I'm not yet completely attached to this instant information world.

If you're reading this, I can't believe you're far enough under the rock to have missed the story on Watson. Watson is IBM's latest Artificial Intelligence computer software. And it is preparing to take on the world's most important and challenging issue - winning the TV game show, Jeopardy. They play this week - Watson against two of the most succesful human competitors to ever appear on the show. Well, the shows air this week. It was pre-recorded, so someone already knows how it all turned out - but they aren't telling.

The first story I heard on this upcoming battle of the brains was early this week. Good to know the technology guy was wrong, at least so far. He said it would be a bloodbath. What he didn't know was on which side. The commentator I heard thought that the knowledge base contained within Watson was unparalleled, and I'm sure he's correct. So, if the software algorithms allowed Watson to translate the questions appropriately to parse into the algorithms to search the appropriate databases for the answers (or, since it's Jeopardy, translate the answers to come up with questions) then the computer would slaughter the humans. If, however, the computer couldn't manage the language skills to understand the questions, the humans would slaughter the machine.

That sounded good to me (hey, what do I know?) but apparently, after one session (of three) the machine and one of the two humans are tied. For some completely unknown reason, that pleases me.

Again, the commentator was all about praising IBM and what looked to be a computer that understood the nuances of language, and could - if allowed to peruse social media on the web - understand and predict human events. Oddly, in the review I read this morning of the first game, the big complaint was that the computer didn't seem to understand the nuances of the language. Huh.

So, what's the point of this rant? Technology is still not at the point of frightening me. The interview I heard ahead of the game got me thinking about Big Brother again. The review I read after the game got me thinking that the machine's not good enough yet.

I'm wondering if it will ever be good enough. I mean, like, if I need a pod bay door opened or something...

16 February 2011

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