Jeopardy Watson Foretelling The Future

Recently I watched an excellent public broadcasting show on artificial intelligence.  No, I’m not talking about the intelligence you run into in a singles bar, but the real deal that computer scientist have been working at for decades.

The latest milestone in this endeavor is a computer to compete in the popular television show Jeopardy.  The computers name is Watson, probably named for the late head of IBM, and Watson has been exposed to vast areas of knowledge on the internet.

Watson is a virtual Wikipedia with so much trivial knowledge he is the size of ten refrigerators and has a 15 trillion byte memory.  It’s full of information like about all of the great literature, mathematical and scientific formulas, Oscar winners, kings and popes and all other sorts of trivia (note to self … hmmm, wonder if Watson knows about the WoodChips).

Artificial intelligence made a big public splash when computers first started playing chess, ultimately beating Grand Masters of the game.  But chess is easy by comparison to Jeopardy when it comes to artificial intelligence.  Chess has a narrowly defined set of rules and a very small and limited vocabulary.

A major challenge for Watson is to simply understand the question.  This is a far more open and messy problem – there are days when I have trouble understanding the question.

But I predict ultimately that Watson or his ilk will win and become close to, if not, unbeatable.  It’s a John Henry thing, really — perhaps inevitable.  And there are those that predict that computer artificial intelligence will surpass ours in a few as twenty years.  That’s not so far off if it comes to pass.

But like all progress, I predict problems.   Jeopardy will need to do something to fix their sagging ratings as all the boring robots play on the show.  I suggest they get Vanna White to come over from Wheel of Fortune and be a contestant in her off hours.

I think ratings might go back up if that were to happen.   You heard it here first at the WoodChips.  What do you think?  About anything (chuckle).

Have a nice day – J. Daniel

Leave a Reply