[Beowulf] IBM's Watson on Jeopardy tonight

Lux, Jim (337C) james.p.lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Wed Feb 16 06:22:06 PST 2011

On Feb 16, 2011, at 3:27 AM, Jonathan Aquilina <eagles051387 at gmail.com> wrote:

> To be tied with a human though i feel means they are on par with humans.

At answering questions on Jeopardy or playing chess (deep blue). These are designed to do a very specific task well.


Indeed, but I don't think that detracts much from the accomplishment.  It's readily acknowledged that the machine has different capabilities than the human.  Most people can't do N-body gravitational simulations in their head, but that's a pretty straightforward task for a machine like Watson. 

I think it will be a while before a machine has the wide span of capabilities of a human (particularly in terms of the ability to manipulate the surroundings), and, as someone pointed out the energy consumption is quite different (as is the underlying computational rate... lots of fairly slow neurons with lots of parallelism vs relatively few really fast transistors)

Watson is a particularly impressive natural language understanding system, with a fairly constrained user interface.  But for other aspects of "life" or "human-ness" other researchers are doing pieces of the puzzle (perhaps not to the level of Watson or Deep Blue).  There are self organizing and self replicating robots (granted, with the "intelligence" of less than a flatworm).

A big advance will be when the machine not only can build its own tools, but can independently figure out what tools it needs to build.  The former is more a matter of physical manipulation, the latter requires creativity and thought.  That's a pretty high bar; there are humans that can't figure out what tool is needed to solve a problem, independently, without having seen someone else do the task.


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