bonar crump

bonar crump
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Friday, February 18, 2011

It’s Official: The Computer’s Smarter

"The IBM supercomputer named Watson has beaten two Jeopardy! champions in a three-night marathon. The computer was awarded a $1 million prize, but the BBC reports that “the victory for Watson and IBM was about more than money. It was about ushering in a new era in computing where machines will increasingly be able to learn and understand what humans are really asking them for. Jeopardy is seen as a significant challenge for Watson because of the show’s rapid-fire format and clues that rely on subtle meanings, puns, and riddles; something humans excel at and computers do not.” With his final answer, Ken Jennings, one of the human competitors and the winner of 74 consecutive Jeopardy! shows (a record), wrote, 'I for one welcome our new computer overlords.'" 


What did Watson the Computer Do?
"That’s what Watson — the I.B.M.-built computer that won a game of  “Jeopardy” last week over two human opponents — does. It’s just a bigger and fancier version of my laptop’s totally annoying (spell check) program. It decomposes the question put to it into discrete bits of data and then searches its vast data base for statistically frequent combinations of the bits it is working with.  The achievement is impressive but it is a wholly formal achievement that involves no knowledge (the computer doesn’t know anything in the relevant sense of “know”); and it does not come within a million miles of replicating  the achievements of everyday human thought."


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