Monday, February 14, 2011

Mr. Watson, Come Here

"Mr. Watson, Come Here."  It is the phrase that started the information age.  Alexander Graham Bell spoke these words as the first transmission over a phone.  Mr. Watson has taken on a new meaning as of the writing of this article.  Watson is now a supercomputer.  In the very eightiesesque definition. Watson is actually a server room. Yes, he is a computer that takes up a whole room.  So, why is this important?

Watson has been programmed to play Jeopardy.  Not a Google search type of thing; Watson has been filled with knowledge and programmed to interpret the clues and come up with answers.  He is also programmed to know what he knows and know what he doesn't.  He will not try to answer unless he is sure.  He selects categories and makes informed decisions on wagering.  In short, Watson thinks.  He thinks well, too.  After one round of play, Watson is tied for the lead.  He has made some bonehead mistakes, but it is still scary.

Artificial intelligence has made a huge leap forward here.  It is now a much smaller leap to searching for Sarah Conner and attempting to kill Dave and his palls on their mission to Jupiter.  I know that the evil computer trope has been done until it is tired, but this isn't science fiction.  This is reality. I worry about anything or anyone that can think but not feel.  Maybe Watson and his positronic brain will never be a threat to humanity and will follow the three laws of robotics. I bet it could quote the three laws but doubt he was programmed to obey them.

So this week we make a huge step forward.  Maybe it is a step to future and maybe it is a step to being enslaved as biological batteries, but science is not going backwards with this.  Whatever is going to happen has now been set into motion.  I for one bow down to my new computer overlord.

Be sure to watch Watson in action on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week on Jeopardy.  Watch as humanity becomes obsolete. 

9 comments:

Emmy said...

That's fabulous. I just read an article about robots being designed to care for the elderly - only 28,000 a pop! What widower couldn't afford that? Well, they're not ready yet obviously.

I've always wanted a robot maid. I think the jeopardy robot is cute but I think the voice would drive me nuts after a while.

Budd said...

Emmy- I give it about 10 years before this AI is small enough to fit into a robot like you are talking about. I then give us 10 more years until the become self aware.

Cherie Reich said...

I'm looking forward to watching these Jeopardy episodes Wednesday. I've had to work last night and tonight, but I taped them. :)

Pat Tillett said...

Scary and amazingly exciting at the same time! Great post!

Budd said...

Cherie-hope you enjoy them. I was cheering for Ken.

Pat-the humans lost, it was embarrassing.

bhousley said...

It looked for a little while like humans might win, then the Geography category pretty much whiped them out.

bhousley said...

It looked for a little while like humans might win, then the Geography category pretty much whiped them out.

bhousley said...

It looked for a little while like humans might win, then the Geography category pretty much whiped them out.

bhousley said...

Oops, could you please delete the extras Budd?