Artificial intelligence birthday present

On February 16, 2011, a supercomputer called Watson won the Jeopardy! game show on national TV, playing against the top human champions.

It was a feat designed to draw comparisons to the famous 1997 defeat of chess champion Gary Kasparov by the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue.

And it got some journalists thinking about artificial intelligence. Richard Powers wrote in a NYTimes editorial:

This raises the question of whether Watson is really answering questions at all or is just noticing statistical correlations in vast amounts of data. But the mere act of building the machine has been a powerful exploration of just what we mean when we talk about knowing.

It was also a reminder that spectacle matters when it comes to teaching the public about computer science and encouraging students to study it. One CS professor reported that several new students showed up to a departmental party to watch the Jeopardy! showdown.

As for the technology itself, I think Powers puts his finger on it: “Information is growing many times faster than anyone’s ability to manage it, and Watson may prove crucial in helping to turn all that noise into knowledge.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.