[Beowulf] IBM's Watson on Jeopardy tonight

"C. Bergström" cbergstrom at pathscale.com
Wed Feb 16 07:38:38 PST 2011

Robert G. Brown wrote:
> On Wed, 16 Feb 2011, "C. Bergström" wrote:
>> Lux, Jim (337C) wrote:
>>> 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)
>> Doesn't this then raise the question of why we aren't modeling computers
>> and programming models after the brain? ;)
> We are, but that problem is, well, "hard".  As in grand challenge hard.
I wonder how you'd really describe the human brain learning in terms of 
a programming model....
> There are other problems -- brains are highly non-deterministic (in that
> they often selectively amplify tiny nearly random signals, as in "having
> an idea" or "reacting completely differently depending on our hormonal
> state, our immediate past history, and the phase of the moon").  Brains
> are extremely non-Markovian with all sorts of multiple-time-scale memory
> and with plenty of functional structures we honestly don't understand
> much at all.  We don't even know how brains ENCODE memory -- when I've
> got Sheryl Crow running through my head in what SEEM to be remarkably
> good fidelity,
I wonder just how good it is?  If I had to guess I'd say pretty bad.  
(no offense)  I wonder how much actual "space" it takes up.  I'd bet 
from a physical size perspective we're possibly ahead of nature in terms 
of data storage density.  (Without the packaging/cases.. etc)
> there is absolutely no way to determine where that
> detailed, replayable music is stored or how it is encoded or how it is
> being reproduced or how the reproduction is being conceived in the
> background of my mind right now as I'm "doing" something else with my
> fingers and my attention is only partly on these words, that are
> appearing out of -- exactly where?  They're being synthesized, but how?
I think motor functions are better understood than pure thought.
> Our computers, on the other hand, tend to be mostly deterministic and
> usually serial unless (as everybody on this list understands very well)
> we work HARD to parallelize their function.  Our programs tend to be
> insensitive to noise and to not use random numbers (unless we
> DELIBERATELY use random numbers in the programs) and if we do the
> latter, we are ultimately sampling an ensemble of possible dynamical
> outcomes with little theoretical reason to believe that our sample will
> be a "good" one.  Not that this isn't true of humans as well, but it is
> both a sometimes strength and a frequent weakness.
I don't believe in random, but it may appear that way.
> Humans can "almost" remember somebody's name one day, for example, and
> then another day know it immediately,
cache hit
> and another day still not even
> recognize that they once knew it.
cache miss

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