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IBM Television Science Technology

Jeopardy-Playing Supercomputer Beats Humans 220

An anonymous reader writes "Ok, this was just a practice round. But in a short demonstration today IBM's Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, a whiz by the name of Watson, thoroughly bested two talented human contestants. IBM has been working on this artificial intelligence project for years to prove that a computer can be programmed to understand conversational speech and wordplay. In today's demo, Watson seems to have proved the point: it started out on a roll in the category 'Chicks Dig Me,' about women and archaeology. The real man versus machine face-off (in which the same contestants compete for a $1 million prize) will be taped tomorrow, and aired in February."
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Jeopardy-Playing Supercomputer Beats Humans

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:43PM (#34866670)

    Call center employees aren't allowed to be smart. They have scripts that they must follow. They're reduced to a very simple algorithm, executed by human beings only because there are still people who prefer talking to a other people over interacting with a machine, and because speech recognition software is still not ready to deal with what some people call speech.

  • A Rising Tide (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bughunter ( 10093 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2011 @03:44PM (#34866682) Journal

    Best quote from the article:

    Jennings says it’s worth noting that humans built the thing. Whoever wins, we win.

    Truly. Although it sounds threatening to some, the practical applications of the natural language parsing technology will ultimately benefit everyone.

    Until, that is, you dial your bank's customer service number from a noisy restaurant, and try to talk to Watson to ask him why your Visa was denied.

    (Rutter's quote was a nifty Skynet allusion, but its syntax was mangled by the reporter/editor, so it comes in second best.)

  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @04:10PM (#34867108)
    The local fire warden won't care about their secrecy if he gets alerted to a hazmat issue.
  • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Thursday January 13, 2011 @06:27PM (#34869230)

    Think for a moment about all the stuff you just hand-waved away, and you will begin to appreciate the problem. Let's take your "chicks dig me" example. You correctly identified that "chick" could mean baby chickens or females (it can also mean any young bird or a small child). "Dig" has a bunch of meanings, both as a noun and a verb. "Me" you just brushed off as "no relevance", but there are two problems with that: first, how is a computer supposed to know the word has no relevance, and secondly, it is VERY relevant to the category. Because of the wordplay, "me" is not referring to a person, it is referring to a LOCATION that was EXCAVATED by a FEMALE, so your answer had better either be an archeological site or a female archeologist. And it just keeps getting harder from there.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.