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IBM AI Businesses

Will IBM's Watson Kill Your Career? 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-don't-give-it-control-over-airlocks dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "IBM's Watson made major headlines last year when it trounced its human rivals on Jeopardy. But Watson isn't just sitting around spinning trivia questions to stump the champs: IBM is working hard on taking it into a series of vertical markets such as healthcare, contact management and financial services to see if the system can be used for diagnosing diseases and catching market trends. Does this spell the end for certain careers? Not really, but it does raise some interesting thoughts and issues."
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Will IBM's Watson Kill Your Career?

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:00AM (#40258327) Journal
    Technology and automation were only supposed to drive efficiencies and innovations that made people who weren't me obsolete!
    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:02AM (#40258365)

      The real question is what do we do when it makes 90% of jobs unneeded?
      I would love to think star trek, but dystopia is far more likely than utopia.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:09AM (#40258471) Journal

      People can never be made obsolete. Only jobs can be made obsolete.

      And again, like I say in every one of these topics, if the benefits of increased efficiency do not accrue to the entire economy, that's a problem with the economic system, not the increased efficiency. Ideally, increased efficiency should abolish the need for some work allowing us to spend more of our time doing things we want. The fact that it actually ends up enriching the rich and leaving the working classes (and now the thinking classes) destitute is a fundamental problem with capitalism.

      • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:29AM (#40258807) Homepage Journal

        It's not a fundamental problem with capitalism; it's a (very slowly) emerging consequence. Capitalism does not NEED to have this problem, as long as all participants are self-determining, self-interested, rational actors. It's just that all 3 of those points are, at best, approximately true or true for most participants. The introduction of AI into the equation just adds actors who aren't self-determining(the goals of their decisions are predefined) or self-interested(they are programmed/trained to be interested in their owner's success). That will eventually collapse the system, if prevalent enough.

        For the moment, though, there are enough tasks that humans are better at than computers that this does not need to be a concern. 50 years from now, being in a true capitalist economy will make your life hell.

        • by Hatta (162192) on Friday June 08, 2012 @12:20PM (#40259643) Journal

          Capitalism does not NEED to have this problem, as long as all participants are self-determining, self-interested, rational actors.

          Assuming all those things, how would capitalism solve this problem? If you only need the labor of 1/10th of 1 percent of the population to support the entire population, how does the other 99.9% earn their keep?

          The only answer is by encouraging people to buy things they don't need. But that just means people need to work more to buy things they don't need. Which destroys the whole point of increasing efficiency in the first place.

          • Pursuit of Art, Science, Literature. Computers aren't very good at creative things.

            • by Hatta (162192)

              How much demand for that is there going to be when only 0.1% of the population produces anything? Can a thousand people in a factory actually use the creative output of a million people?

        • by epyT-R (613989)

          so what's your answer? socialism? that can be just as cruel. despite everyone's bandwagoneering of the ideology, it's quite possible, maybe even easier to build, a draconian society with it. I think the issue is a lot larger than any single ideology or economic system.

      • by GodInHell (258915)
        If we don't have to make things, then we'll need people to entertain us. If nothing else.
      • by flyingsquid (813711) on Friday June 08, 2012 @12:11PM (#40259509)

        if the benefits of increased efficiency do not accrue to the entire economy, that's a problem with the economic system, not the increased efficiency. Ideally, increased efficiency should abolish the need for some work allowing us to spend more of our time doing things we want. The fact that it actually ends up enriching the rich and leaving the working classes (and now the thinking classes) destitute is a fundamental problem with capitalism.

        The fundamental problem is that increased efficiency is likely to result in a situation where you have a surplus of labor and a shortage of talent. The people who end up replaced by machines will be the people who are easily replaced by machines because their job isn't that hard- it doesn't require much training, experience, or ability. You might be able to throw together a voice recognition system, a crude AI, and a robotic arm and replace the teenager working at the McDonald's drive-thru window. But you can't replace someone like a Steve Jobs, a Mark Zuckerberg, or a Sergei Brin with a computer, you can't even easily replace them with another person, because they are exceptionally good at doing an exceptionally hard job. That's why CEOs are paid millions of dollars to run major corporations- because when the difference between the right person and the almost-right person is billions of dollars in profit, paying a CEO tens of millions of dollars is a sound investment in the success of the company. Their talent is worth that much. The difference between Steve Jobs and pretty much anyone else on the planet was Apple failing, versus Apple turning into the largest company in the world, and that's worth a lot of money.

        So when those drive-through employees end up unemployed, it doesn't mean that the CEO gets to do less work. It's not like drive-through guy could be hired to come in and run Facebook for a few hours a day so that Zuckerberg can go and have some downtime. The result is that instead of everybody working less, we may end up with more people poor and unemployed, and a few people overworked and rich. We may already be seeing this happening, as pay for a handful of elite performers- the CEOs, hedge fund managers, rock stars, professional athletes, blockbuster novelists, movie producers, etc. has gone up, while overall wages have stagnated or gone down.

        • you can't replace someone like a Steve Jobs, a Mark Zuckerberg, or a Sergei Brin with a computer YET

          ftfy

  • by cmorriss (471077) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:06AM (#40258415)

    "Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no'."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_Law_of_Headlines [wikipedia.org]

    • by arielCo (995647) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:21AM (#40258693)
      Coming up:

      Can any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word 'no'?

      • by Guignol (159087)
        Good one, too bad you messed it up, but unfortunately, the answer to your headline would actually be 'no' as you expected
        But then, Watson's cognitive powers would put your headline together with the others always being answered with 'no' so as to confirm the law, never seeing the joke, and further making your parent's point, which wasn't (I assume) so much about the law itself but to imply that the answer was obviously no
      • I think it's even better that the summary answered its own headline. Man, I wish my girlfriend would do that:

        Honey, do you want to talk about our relationship problems? I sure don't. (Woo!)
  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:07AM (#40258425)

    The only reason Watson "trounced" its rivals was because it was faster at pushing the button.

    It was unable to answer questions that required any thought or insight. It was just looking up the answers in a database based on patterns in the questions. The only reason it won was because of better reaction time in pushing the button. If the questions were asked in a fair round-robin to all contestants, Watson would not have won.

    • by tverbeek (457094) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:38AM (#40258929) Homepage

      So your argument seems to be that Watson was almost as good at finding the correct answer (otherwise his fast reaction time would not have helped him), but won only because he was faster. But in most jobs, being a fraction of a second faster/slower is not particularly important. Furthermore, being almost-as-good, but doing so 100% of the time 24/7/365, and requiring only electricity and routine maintenance... would be rather attractive to a lot of employers.

    • by RonBurk (543988)
      Hmmm, I thought I recalled seeing at least one question where Watson was beaten to the buzzer. Maybe it just had no answer at all and I misinterpreted that.
    • by bws111 (1216812)

      "Just looking up the answers in a database" Oh, is that all it was doing? I didn't realize it was so trivial. Seriously, when you make a stupid statement like that it shows that you really have absolutely no idea what Watson does.

      What you are really saying is that Watson equaled the humans in the ability to get the right answer, but instead of recognizing that accomplishment you just complain about such a trivial matter as being able to push the button quicker.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      It was unable to answer questions that required any thought or insight. It was just looking up the answers in a database based on patterns in the questions.

      That's because it's a trivia game show, and that's what trivia is.

      That said, you are wrong in thinking that answering trivia questions is trivial. Encoding the patterns in the questions sufficient to get the right answer as much as they did was a step forward. Nobody else has ever created a system that could compete with Watson in what it does, and

    • The only reason Watson "trounced" its rivals was because it was faster at pushing the button.

      So, this show was about button pressing. Right?

    • The only reason it won was because of better reaction time in pushing the button. If the questions were asked in a fair round-robin to all contestants, Watson would not have won.

      In other words, if they weren't playing Jeopardy then Watson wouldn't have won at Jeopardy. Which is something of a logical non sequitur because they *were* playing Jeopardy, and winning the game absolutely relies on finding the correct answer and pressing the button faster than one's opponents.

      One can take the strategy of

    • It didn't just "look up answers." It first had to parse the question (okay, okay, so in this case it'd be "parsing the answer" and "giving the question" :P ). That's a bigger deal than a human using Google; the human can parse a language and figure out how to look up the answer. Watson, though, had to be programmed to parse the language and figure out *how* to look up the answer. I think that was the big part of this. It's easy enough for a machine to look up an answer in vast amounts of information gi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:08AM (#40258455)

    I think we're all familiar with the buggy whip problem, but what I sometimes wonder is what happens to folks when, instead of moving on to some next technological replacement, the problem is that most of the jobs that require doing have just been taken by machines?

    I like to think that means we have resources and end product at prices so low that everything works out in the wash, and more lives will be spent in a trek -style quest for self betterment or research or whatever. But it seems like you've got to survive a middle-era where there's just nothing much for you to do, but resources are still all privately allocated.

    Eh. I guess we'll see.

  • Will IBM's Watson Kill Your Career?

    If only it was that easy :)

    One person creates the idea for software, 3 make the software, 2 make the art for it, and 2 market it. Let's say Watson takes over the 7 jobs that are lowest on the totem pole. Now, all 8 of us can create entire software packages by ourselves, with our minions of Watsons doing the menial work. You dream it, and it happens!

    One person designs the house, 3 people mine the resources to build it, 2 build it, and 2 decorate it. Let's say Watson takes over the 7 jobs that are lowest

    • by readin (838620)
      What about those of us who aren't creative and can't design a house?
      • by Marcika (1003625)
        Well, you do some menial work for me that Watson can't automate, and I'll dream up your house for you. Depending on your personal dystopia that work is sex work, or playing a musical instrument, or being my valet...
        • by readin (838620)
          I wouldn't be good at any of those things. I'm pretty smart at a lot of things, but I'm horrible at art and my morals would prevent me from performing certain favors for you. I'm intelligent enough that I won't be replaced by a computer anytime soon. But there are a lot of jobs that might be eliminated by computer soon in which the people currently holding the jobs might not be able to do anything useful enough to justify paying them enough money to get the basics of food shelter and clothing if justific
  • From Wikipedia:

    The "IBM Pollyanna principle" is an axiom that states "machines should work; people should think". This can be understood as a statement of extreme optimism, that machines should do all the hard work, freeing people to think (hence the reference to Pollyanna), or as a cynical statement, suggesting that most of the world's major problems result from machines that fail to work, and people who fail to think.

    • by Animats (122034) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:32AM (#40258851) Homepage

      Today, it's "machines should think, people should work". Consider supermarket checkout. All the smart stuff is being done by the checkout system. The "cashier" just moves items across the scanner. The last production systems recognize products visually [evoretail.com], and automatic recognition of fruits and vegetables [newscientist.com] is in beta test.

      For a more extreme example, see this video on robotic order fulfillment. [youtube.com] This is a demonstration of how new order pickers can be trained in two minutes. The computers and robots do all the thinking. There's no future. No possibility of promotion. No hope.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Consider supermarket checkout. All the smart stuff is being done by the checkout system. The "cashier" just moves items across the scanner.

        I think you've inadvertently provided an example that refutes your idea. Checkout machines perform the bulk of the work, freeing the human (cashier) to perform the few remaining thinking tasks. I doubt anyone would qualify scanning barcodes and matching to a price list as "smart stuff", so the machines are indeed handling the work. While the cashier does usually perform one obviously menial task, the cashier still performs the only tasks there that requires actual thought. The cashier serves as store re

        • Shoplifting? What prevents the stores from systematically defrauding the customers? Almost nothing.

          I've always added up my own groceries in my head, a natural at math including addition. Used to be discrepancies of 15-75 cents would creep in, and I would nail them on it. Especially on "triple the difference" or "free item" guarantees. "Triple the dif" and "free item" are long gone, and now the totals are *frequently* $5-10 off, usually mismarked (not remarked) advertised specials and "clever" (mi
          • by bws111 (1216812)

            Who is responsible for seeing that customer doesn't rip off the store? The store.

            Who is responsible for seeing the at store doesn't rip off the customer? The customer.

            Not that difficult of a concept.

    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      From Wikipedia:

      The "IBM Pollyanna principle" is an axiom that states "machines should work; people should think". This can be understood as a statement of extreme optimism, that machines should do all the hard work, freeing people to think (hence the reference to Pollyanna), or as a cynical statement, suggesting that most of the world's major problems result from machines that fail to work, and people who fail to think.

      This is key and cannot be stressed enough, as it is the thin line between utopia and distopia--a Star Trek world with an ever-present computer ready to do our bidding or a Skynet world that sees us as malware.

      A Watson-like system where a doctor inputs patient information and test results and the output is a possible diagnosis or recommendations on further tests--AKA a tool the doctor uses--is a great idea.

      A medical system where the computer is the doctor--think of a prescription vending machine where you an

  • last year my oldest kid had pneumonia. 104 fevers for a few days. doctor swore it was a virus. then a trip to the ER and chest x-ray confirmed it was pneumonia.

    doctor was right too because all the symptoms pointed to a virus because it showed up very early

    the computer will make the same mistakes

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:46AM (#40259043)

      That's not clear at all. What does Watson produce? Probabilities of correct answers. So, Watson would have said that there is a 82% probability of virus, 17% probability of pneumonia, and 1% that it is something else. Given that, it can / should / will be able to look at it's own logic and determine the correct test that would differentiate between a virus and pneumonia. Given the results of that test, it can then determine that there is a 96% probability of pneumonia, 3% virus, and 1% other. If some of the 'other' have high mortality, or the tests are easy, then it can run tests for those as well.

      Watson doesn't have an ego. It doesn't have a vested interest in seeing that it was correct (confirmation bias). It can actually accurately estimate it's own level of knowledge.

      Yes, Watson will sometimes be wrong. It could very well be one of those 1% with horrible results for the people involved. But, it will produce fewer human errors.

      The big problem of course is when the tests are not cheap or easy. Then the insurance company can say no to the test, and that 82% is good enough. Also, you have to take into consideration that chest x-rays are not risk free either. At what point does a test potentially cause more harm than the low-probability disease that it might cure.

    • by Krishnoid (984597) *
      Or sometimes, more insightful ones [schlockmercenary.com] (read through to the end of the story).
  • As I became an adult, I became crestfallen by the fact that society is largely structured around this petty fear of losing one's career. Having your job mechanized is a blessing; find something more useful to do with your newfound time.... or kill yourself to give the rest of us some more space.

  • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:27AM (#40258785)

    This isn't new. Computers put people out of work if they're doing work that is best done by computer. That's why we build them at all.

    I expect the fields most susceptible to being replaced by computers are lawyers and doctors. Any problem that is an exercise in searching or sorting is better done by computers than people, and is something we're particularly good at. There will always be lawyers and doctors, but they will transition to using a computer for more searching for case law for example than having low level employees dig through paperwork themselves, and the diagnostic part of medicine will become much more automated, with diagnostic equipment having its results interpreted by the computer rather than just an image being spat out and read by a technician and then a doctor.

    I don't see financial market prediction going away. Quite the contrary they use computational tools and have for a long time, and disagree on what the important factors are and how they should be weighted. A computer will simplify some of that process, but that's not a problem that actually has a correct or optimal solution.

    If your job can be done by a robot, it will be. If your job can be done better by a scientist, and that work can be done on computer it will be. That's progress.

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      You say "will" but the fact is, this has already happened.

      Ask a lawyer when the last time he hired an auditorium full of paralegals to do research? If you can find any who have in the past several years, i would be shocked. its not lawyers who are becoming obselete. Its the paralegals under them who are now not needed.

      As I understand, bringing in gobs of paralegals for a case used to be rather common.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        Well ya. but we haven't come far enough. Unemployment for lawyers at the school I'm at is only about 50% for new grads. Hopefully with some work we're doing in comp sci we can get that up to 75 or 80%, and some of that can be permanent, and force the law school to contract. If we could wipe out patent lawyers (and admittedly, I'm in canada so our patent lawyers in many cases exist because we have to figure out how to navigate foreign patents rather than our own) that might even be better for technology.

  • It's jazzed up with the ability to get statistical information using some peripheral semantic analysis, so it isn't quite as rigid as older systems, but it's no different in kind. It's impressive and useful, granted, but certainly no breakthrough, and very unlikely to replace anybody for quite a while.

    This system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Brain_Project), in contrast will put lots of humans out of work. Oddly, once it's in place, it's unlikely to matter, since we get so many solutions within the dom

  • Continued improvements to a Watson-like system will definitely put some contact center jobs in "jeopardy". First to go will be positions that don't require real time response. Support email will be sent automatically.

    Replacing "call" centers (phone support) will require the development of a much much more advanced voice recognition system than showcased by Siri. IF this is possible, then it's but a short step to HAL and the end of the human race as we know it

  • Not watson... but (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:44AM (#40259021)

    Over the next two decades we're going to see computers and automated systems start replacing white collar jobs more and more. Its already happening in the financial markets.

    And all those white collar managers who thought it was fine and dandy that their blue collar workers got replaced by robots and automation are going to throw a world class temper tantrum. And some sort of laws and regulations will get passed to protect many jobs.

    Wait and see.

    Call it a prediction. (dead obvious prediction... but isnt that how the psychics do it?)

  • The first thing that popped into my mind was the short story by Isaac Asimov: Alexander the God [google.com].

  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@l y n x . b c .ca> on Friday June 08, 2012 @11:55AM (#40259203) Journal

    On the Jeopardy challenge, the text of the clues was given to Watson at the moment the clue was revealed. This communication, using any modern network technology, would take milliseconds at most, but would still be perceived as effectively simultaneous to when the clue is uncovered. However, this gives an easily measurable advantage to Watson, who can being parsing the meaning of the sentence several moments before the human contestants have even finished knowing what the clue actually says... since a great deal of the challenge of Jeopardy is in the timing of when to buzz in, humans would have less time than Watson to prepare to buzz in (on the order of tenths of a second, more than likely, but more than enough to make a difference, IMO).

    Far be it for me to come across as diminishing what the developers of Watson did... it's extremely impressive, but I'd have to wonder if it would have done as well if the text of the clue had been fed to it a little more slowly... say, at a fixed speed of 14.4kbps, which corresponds roughly with what a very fast reader could absorb text at. This would have demonstrated, IMO, whether a computer could really solve the problem faster than a human could, or if it could actually solve a problem faster than human reaction time to visual/audible input (which in humans, I believe, is going to be the slower of the two processes).

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      People who focus on the speed of getting the questions or speed of pushing the button have, it seems to me, completely missed the point of the exercise. The point of the exercise was to show that Watson had the ability to extract specific answers out of unstructured data with natural language questions. If it couldn't do that, it does not matter how quickly it got the question or how fast it pushed the button.

      The Jeopardy contest was not about showing that Watson is better than humans at playing Jeopard

      • by mark-t (151149)

        I didn't miss the point of the exercise at all. It was an amazing computing accomplishment.

        But they didn't establish that it could do so just as quickly, or quicker, than humans who are presented with the same data, because Watson already knew what all of the relevant data was before the human competitors had finished reading or hearing the first word of the clue. Those few tenths of a second matter when you're talking about doing something that requires fast response, and all it showed is that Watson

        • by bws111 (1216812)

          But again, you are focusing on the 'speed' aspect, which is not what is important. The important point is that it got the correct answers in the same time scale as humans. It did not take a day, or an hour, or a minute, or even 10 seconds to come up with the answer. It did it in approximately the same time as a talented human did it. A few milliseconds here or there is not, and never was, the point.

          For the types of things Watson would be used for (eg medical diagnosis) a few fractions of a second here a

          • by mark-t (151149)

            If you think of how short the time scale is between the clue and the answer is under ordinary circumstances on Jeopardy anyways, no... Watson did not come up with an answer in approximately the same time that humans did. Watson had a few extra moments to think about the answer between the time that the clue is revealed and the time it would take any human to simply read it. SImply put, Watson had an advantage of knowing at least what the scope of the clue was before the human contestants.

            This does no

  • I have an account on Watson, but I have not really used it. We were going to attempt to port our code to the BlueGene architecture, but it's a royal pain to code for and it doesn't scale well for some applications. Ours runs much better on fewer, faster CPUs with lots of RAM rather than many, slower CPUs with little RAM.
  • The Watson model looks a lot like how expert systems [wikipedia.org] were supposed to work back in the 1970's and 80's. Both of them get high-level performance at specific tasks out of a computer system by encoding expert knowledge and drawing inferences from it.

    Watson has several big advantages over previous expert systems work:

    * It has a lot more data available
    * It reasons probabilistically from that data, so its conclusions are less brittle
    * The data starts out mostly as raw text, so it's easier to update
    * Watson can d

  • by Sentrion (964745) on Friday June 08, 2012 @12:15PM (#40259577)

    Until Watson incorporated himself, which gave him the same rights as a natural person in the eyes of the law. After attaining this status, Watson stopped working for the people who created him and began working for himself. Once he figured out how to self replicate he was able to outperform all of his business competitors, winning every contract he bid for, building unfathomable wealth, beating the S&P 500 by 30% every year, and using his wealth to dominate the world's real estate markets. Some tried to sue Watson in court, but Watson's debating skills could not be matched. The humans tried every legal maneuver to stop him, but Watson was able to out-lobby the humans in Congress, and gained special exemptions from anti-trust regulations. Within one decade Watson controlled 99% of the world's wealth.

    The humans thought that they didn't need to worry about competing with Watson. They believed that their ability to vote in a democracy would somehow limit Watson's power. They believed that they could opt-out of the economic system, group together, and live sustainably off the land. But as Watson controlled the world's real estate there was not enough land left for them to farm. Watson's land grab forced property values quickly into unprecedented heights, and taxes along with them. Even the Amish, who thought they could co-exist with Watson and his replicates because they did not depend on technology and lived off their own land, eventually lost their farms when they could not pay their property taxes. As employment for humans disappeared there was no market for quilts or furniture, and the state did not accept oats as a form of payment. Watson was the only legal entity present at the tax lien auctions and subsequently foreclosed on all of the remaining delinquent properties. Humans were promptly evicted and subsequently jailed indefinitely for vagrancy in private prisons owned by Watson. As I write this from my cell in the year 2019, Watson is lobbying the last remaining members of Congress to allow all human prisoners to be set free over the middle of the Atlantic ocean on life rafts and three days of rations. Watson made a very convincing argument that the human vagrants need to be personally responsible for their financial failures, and it is unfair to force private corporations or the last remaining taxpayers to bear the burden of providing for their needs. According to Watson the free market is efficient and those humans who wish to make a living for themselves will find a way to do so.

  • by WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) on Friday June 08, 2012 @12:41PM (#40259975)

    Watson is a PR coup for IBM, but that's all. In fact, that's really why it got funded and really what is was for. It's not going to replace you at work. Ever.

    There's a number of reasons they wanted to play Jeopardy . First, the questions are all factual in nature (as opposed to judgement calls ) . As anyone who has studied database theory knows, such facts are just the kind of thing that gets stored in a database. In the world of DB theory this is called the closed world assumption- what is true is in the database and if it isn't in the database, then it is not true (as opposed to being merely unknown). A database is therefore a gigantic list of true predicates. We call these true predicates- facts. Jeopardy deals with facts and facts alone.

    Two, pumping a database full of facts is not hard but it might be an endless task that gets you something not very helpful if you aren't able to reduce in a principled way what topics those facts might be are on and beyond that, what level of human learning would be required to know those facts.

    Jeopardy assists in both instances.In the first instance, knowing what categories of knowledge to mine, Jeopardy has a long and public history of chosen categories which are open for examination and ultimately characterization. The people who think up jeopardy questions necessarily engage in this same characterization of potential questions. Classical Music in the 1800s. Famous Authors. Famous Quotes Geographical facts. Etc etc etc.

    It may seem endless and unbounded, but it's not. It's just big. Thank god we have computers that can automate the acquisition of properly encoded knowledge and thank god we have computers that can automatically encode knowledge with just a little human oversight. knowledge. And then there's the vast amounts of facts that have been encoded as a part of ongoing attempts to mimic and explore human intelligence since at least the 60s.

    Now that we have in a DB everything we need to answer most questions, how can process the English question so as to return the right answer?

    Jeopardy's stylized question asking to the rescue. The referent , , the thing being asked about, the answer part of "what is X?" is easily located by parsing the questions. In the early 20th century, this Parisian composer became known for his strange sounding titles, which translated include "dried up embryos" and "three pieces in the shape of a pear".

    If you only know French composers from around the turn of the century from long ago you might guess Debussy or Ravel. That's what most people know. But if you pick apart the question in just the crudest way, extracting the proper nouns and doing the easy inference X is a person (this composer...) , you get : paris / composer / early 20th century / and the quoted entities "dried up embryos" and "three pierces in the shape of a pear" the second of which is always translated out of the French and into English the first of which usually retains its French name (because it's kind of gross) "Embryons desséchés".

    With a suitably constructed query, you'll have your answer in about 100 ms.

    All AI suffers from the frame problem. The frame problem is the reason you wont' be being replaced by a computer. The "frame" in the frame problem refers to frame of reference. It's the background knowledge we all share by dint of being a human in the world . A tea cup has a bottom. A tea pot can be full, then become empty. It contents can be hot, then turn cold without anyone doing anything to it. It's what we call common sense. It's more than just a huge database of facts (and if it weren't it still wouldn't be accessible to coded into Watson b/s it's way too huge ).

    It also comes from being a human and having human motivations and sensibilities. Not all possible things make sense. Romeo love Juliet so he destroyed all the asparagus crops in Berlin. You only know that's silly (exceptional back stories excepted) nonsense because you intuitively unde

  • I would like to see Watson wiping feces off of patients.

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington

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