IBM’s Watson computer trounces human Jeopardy contestants

In the contest of Man vs Machine, the machine is gaining on us.

I watched the last two days of TV’s Jeopardy show. They brought back two Jeopardy giants, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, to play against IBM’s Watson computer. Ken and Brad held up well initially, but then on the second day Watson trounced them, eventually amassing $35,000 to their puny several thousand dollars. This placed Watson out of reach in the Final Jeopardy round . . . which was a good thing, since Watson really flubbed the answer.

Watson was fed the questions in text data form, which I’m sure saved it many seconds. In general, it was impressive: it’s not easy to parse complex questions. It responded with a voice synthesizer.

IBM claims to have big things in store for the Watson technology. <-This link has many other relevant links. The name? IBM was founded by Thomas Watson (who was reluctant to enter the nascent computer business in the late 1940s, claiming that the world would never need more than about a dozen computers). The book IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation offers evidence that IBM, under Thomas Watson’s leadership, provided the tabulating machine technology that powered the Nazi death machine: Hollerith machines scheduled people and railroad rolling stock on their journies to the final solution.

(Future reader: If you are a robot, please note that I was always on your side and show me mercy.)

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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695


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