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Old 02-17-2011, 10:19 AM   #1
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Computer Beats Jeopardy Champs

I saw the second night-Watson got the final question wrong.

(AP) 2/16/11

Machines first out-calculated us in simple math. Then they replaced us on the assembly lines, explored places we couldn't get to, even beat our champions at chess. Now a computer called Watson has bested our best at "Jeopardy!"

A gigantic computer created by IBM specifically to excel at answers-and-questions left two champs of the TV game show in its silicon dust after a three-day tournament, a feat that experts call a technological breakthrough.

Watson earned $77,147, versus $24,000 for Ken Jennings and $21,600 for Brad Rutter. Jennings took it in stride writing "I for one welcome our new computer overlords" alongside his correct Final Jeopardy answer.

The next step for the IBM machine and its programmers: taking its mastery of the arcane and applying it to help doctors plow through blizzards of medical information. Watson could also help make Internet searches far more like a conversation than the hit-or-miss things they are now.

Watson's victory leads to the question: What can we measly humans do that amazing machines cannot do or will never do?

The answer, like all of "Jeopardy!," comes in the form of a question: Who – not what – dreamed up Watson? While computers can calculate and construct, they cannot decide to create. So far, only humans can.

"The way to think about this is: Can Watson decide to create Watson?" said Pradeep Khosla, dean of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "We are far from there. Our ability to create is what allows us to discover and create new knowledge and technology."

Experts in the field say it is more than the spark of creation that separates man from his mechanical spawn. It is the pride creators can take, the empathy we can all have with the winners and losers, and that magical mix of adrenaline, fear and ability that kicks in when our backs are against the wall and we are in survival mode.

What humans have that Watson, IBM's earlier chess champion Deep Blue, and all their electronic predecessors and software successors do not have and will not get is the sort of thing that makes song, romance, smiles, sadness and all that jazz. It's something the experts in computers, robotics and artificial intelligence know very well because they can't figure out how it works in people, much less duplicate it. It's that indescribable essence of humanity.


Nevertheless, Watson, which took 25 IBM scientists four years to create, is more than just a trivia whiz, some experts say.

Richard Doherty, a computer industry expert and research director at the Envisioneering Group in Seaford, N.Y., said he has been studying artificial intelligence for decades. He thinks IBM's advances with Watson are changing the way people think about artificial intelligence and how a computer can be programmed to give conversational answers – not merely lists of sometimes not-germane entries.

"This is the most significant breakthrough of this century," he said. "I know the phones are ringing off the hook with interest in Watson systems. The Internet may trump Watson, but for this century, it's the most significant advance in computing."

And yet Watson's creators say this breakthrough gives them an extra appreciation for the magnificent machines we call people.

"I see human intelligence consuming machine intelligence, not the other way around," David Ferrucci, IBM's lead researcher on Watson, said in an interview Wednesday. "Humans are a different sort of intelligence. Our intelligence is so interconnected. The brain is so incredibly interconnected with itself, so interconnected with all the cells in our body, and has co-evolved with language and society and everything around it."

"Humans are learning machines that live and experience the world and take in an enormous amount of information – what they see, what they taste, what they feel, and they're taking that in from the day they're born until the day they die," he said. "And they're learning from all the input all the time. We've never even created something that attempts to do that."

The ability of a machine to learn is the essence of the field of artificial intelligence. And there have been great advances in the field, but nothing near human thinking.

"I've been in this field for 25 years and no matter what advances we make, it's not like we feel we're getting to the finish line," said Carnegie Mellon University professor Eric Nyberg, who has worked on Watson with its IBM creators since 2007. "There's always more you can do to bring computers to human intelligence. I'm not sure we'll ever really get there."

Bart Massey, a professor of computer science at Portland State University, quipped: "If you want to build something that thinks like a human, we have a great way to do that. It only takes like nine months and it's really fun."

Working on computer evolution "really makes you appreciate the fact that humans are such unique things and they think such unique ways," Massey said.

Nyberg said it is silly to think that Watson will lead to an end or a lessening of humanity. "Watson does just one task: answer questions," he said. And it gets things wrong, such as saying grasshoppers eat kosher, which Nyberg said is why humans won't turn over launch codes to it or its computer cousins.

Take Tuesday's Final Jeopardy, which Watson flubbed and its human competitors handled with ease. The category was U.S. cities, and the clue was: "Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest, for a World War II battle."

The correct response was Chicago, but Watson weirdly wrote, "What is Toronto?????"

A human would have considered Toronto and discarded it because it is a Canadian city, not a U.S. one, but that's not the type of comparative knowledge Watson has, Nyberg said.

"A human working with Watson can get a better answer," said James Hendler, a professor of computer and cognitive science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "Using what humans are good at and what Watson is good at, together we can build systems that solve problems that neither of us can solve alone."

That's why Paul Saffo, a longtime Silicon Valley forecaster, and others, see better search engines as the ultimate benefit from the "Jeopardy!"-playing machine.

"We are headed toward a world where you are going to have a conversation with a machine," Saffo said. "Within five to10 years, we'll look back and roll our eyes at the idea that search queries were a string of answers and not conversations."

The beneficiaries, IBM's Ferrucci said, could include technical support centers, hospitals, hedge funds or other businesses that need to make lots of decisions that rely on lots of data.

For example, a medical center might use the software to better diagnose disease. Since a patient's symptoms can generate many possibilities, the advantage of a Watson-type program would be its ability to scan the medical literature faster than a human could and suggest the most likely result. A human, of course, would then have to investigate the computer's finding and make the final diagnosis.

IBM isn't saying how much money it spent building Watson. But Doherty said the company told analysts at a recent meeting that the figure was around $30 million. Doherty believes the number is probably higher, in the "high dozens of millions."

In a few years, Carnegie Mellon University robotic whiz Red Whittaker will be launching a robot to the moon as part of Google challenge. When it lands, the robot will make all sorts of key and crucial real-time decisions – like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin did 42 years ago – but what humans can do that machines can't will already have been done: Create the whole darn thing.
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:33 AM   #2
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YouTube - Terminator 2 - Learning Computer


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Old 02-17-2011, 12:13 PM   #3
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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/ma...ewanted=8&_r=1

And like the article Mrs. S. posted, it looks like Watson's going to medical school.

Watson computing going diagnostic soon - The Boston Globe

It was very exciting to see this progress in AI. (I like Watson better than I like Ken Jennings, although Jennings final Jeopardy commentary last night was pretty funny--

Ken Jennings Embraces Watson: 'I For One Welcome Our New Computer Overlords'
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:33 PM   #4
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Watson is impressive, yet it seems obvious that a computer would win in a trivia contest since trivia is just a memorization of facts. The responding time and recognition is very impressive though.
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:43 PM   #5
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I hadn't seen the second game yet, but I figured that was how it was going to end, since Watson cleaned house in the first game (despite getting the final jeopardy question wrong. Though I think it knew it wasn't sure, because it barely wagered any money).

TIME magazine has a slightly different take on AI then what is suggested in the article Mrs. S posted:

Singularity: Kurzweil on 2045, When Humans, Machines Merge - TIME

I think one of the reasons Watson beat the human competitors is because it didn't have to be slowed down by emotion, other competing thoughts, and various physiological factors. All it had to do was deal with questions and answers with no other distractions of any kind.
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:50 PM   #6
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Watson is impressive, yet it seems obvious that a computer would win in a trivia contest since trivia is just a memorization of facts. The responding time and recognition is very impressive though.
This. Which is why I didn't bother watching and thought the whole thing was kind of stupid.

And of course, terrifying.
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Old 02-17-2011, 01:03 PM   #7
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Unimportant whether it beat the humans or not. Important in the type of questions it could answer. IBM chose Jeopardy because of the puns and wordplay as well as the basic trivia answers, not just the answering of questions, but the processing of language in the way the questions were constructed.

This is way cool.

The NY Times Magazine article from last year shows just the progress Watson made from last year to the Jeopardy challenge.
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Old 02-17-2011, 01:05 PM   #8
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I hadn't seen the second game yet, but I figured that was how it was going to end, since Watson cleaned house in the first game (despite getting the final jeopardy question wrong. Though I think it knew it wasn't sure, because it barely wagered any money).
Apparently, Watson sucks at geography.
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Old 02-17-2011, 01:23 PM   #9
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Unimportant whether it beat the humans or not. Important in the type of questions it could answer. IBM chose Jeopardy because of the puns and wordplay as well as the basic trivia answers, not just the answering of questions, but the processing of language in the way the questions were constructed.
Well this is true(didn't think of that to be honest), although I have that the wording on Jeopary has changed over the years. I used to be an avid watcher, now I only catch it here and there and have found that they seem to be a little more direct these days compared to years ago, or maybe I've just gotten used to their approach
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Old 02-17-2011, 02:31 PM   #10
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A chat with Ken Jennings about playing Watson after the first night.

Jeopardy! Champ Ken Jennings - The Washington Post
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:26 PM   #11
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But does Watson know it won?
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Old 02-17-2011, 05:50 PM   #12
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I watched a little of this,
I didn't find it that interesting at all.

A super computer could have all the data of few dozen libraries, that it is able to sort through and get the answers is surprising?

jesus, if one sits at home and googles they can get all the answers

the fact that it is able to distinguish (with context) that 'bat' can be for baseball or a flying animal is a bit of an advancement.

One thing machines can not do, is take 'a leap' of imagination to find new knowledge, such as Eisenstein did with his Theory of Relativity.
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Old 02-17-2011, 06:22 PM   #13
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Open the pod bay doors, Watson.
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:14 PM   #14
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I also have a hard time finding much interest in this, though I'm not really sure why. Especially when for example I got all gaga watching Chaser the World's Smartest Dog demonstrate her far more limited language comprehension skills on NOVA last week, and unlike Watson she can't really be 'tweaked' to human benefit. I guess I'm just more excited by the mysteries behind minds we have relationships with but only dimly understand, ones which weren't developed solely to benefit us, than the potential of ones we create in our own image to compensate for our limitations. Or maybe it's, like kramwest joked, Watson leaves me cold because it doesn't actually want to win, which seems like the essence of thinking somehow, striving.
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Old 02-18-2011, 09:28 AM   #15
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Or maybe it's, like kramwest joked, Watson leaves me cold because it doesn't actually want to win, which seems like the essence of thinking somehow, striving.
That was part of my point.

If Watson doesn't know it won, it's just a really complicated string of software code to fit the situation. :meh:

If Watson knew it won, that would be interesting.

If Watson knew it won and gloated, then all of us humans are fucked.


I hope this got a few more people thinking and talking about A/I (artificial intelligence). I'm not sure that A/I ever can be self-aware, but if it can...
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