Jeopardy: Watson Speculation
It's important to speculate NOW because his/it debut is Monday on Jeopardy. But first...a brief overview.
What is Watson?
A computer IBM built, to see if they could make an AI that could compete and win on the quiz show Jeopardy. It is named after one of the company founders, and not Sherlock's sidekick. It is NOT connected to the internet.
On the surface, this quiz show looks like something a machine would ace...kind of like math. However, that's only because most people take understanding extremely for granted. "Obvious" facts like people named Henriette tend to be female, and milk is not 'non dairy' are taken for granted by everyone...however to a computer they're totally wild concepts to grasp. Mostly because computers don't have life experience, and anything they 'know' at first has to be programmed in. The clues are also full of puns, double-meaning words, gags and other things that throw computers and their rules for a loop.
As you can see, THIS show presents a really unique challenge, one that IBM's been working on for 4 years to see if they could make something that was up to it. And with all that manpower, you know it had to be seriously rough.
The most famous incident of "man vs machine, man loses" was of course, Deep Blue.
This was the chess playing computer who beat the world chess champion Gary Kasperov a while back. Though the game didn't appear to 'finish-finish' Gary got up in a very huffy manner and stormed away, which I guess means that you lose at chess. I don't know much about chess, but ragequitting is the same everywhere? GK is actually more famous for this loss than anything else.
However, the important thing about this match was first off, that DeepBlue didn't fight like a human. It has no strategy. It pounds numbers so hard and crunches so many variables in the same manner as a "Choose your own adventure" book that it grinds the win out. It runs every game move all the way to the finish before it chooses one. There's bazillions of possibilities (possibility tree with base so wide...) but THAT is what computers can do that humans can't...look at those huge numbers and make sense of it all in an instant or two.
This upcoming match may not be SEEN by the general population as something more than what Deep Blue did (if it wins) however, it certainly will be a greater feat. "Machine Learning" <-- a very interesting term, DO look it up if you don't know it, its fascinating. Takes place, as well as the fact that it can learn from its own mistakes and other contestant's answers during the game. (DB never did either)
So will Watson win?
If you have not seen the NOVA (PBS show) dedicated to it, you might think it a shoe-in for the title. However, it's often funny struggles, its many mishaps & etc you see on Nova cast a doubt at it. It should actually be a real serious competition, as they're running Ken Jennings & the top Jeopardy winner of all time against it in the charity matches. (it's playing for 1 million)
On the Nova show, you go behind the scenes with its creators, who get genuinely offended when their faux-host makes fun of Watson when it answers wrongly or in a funny manner. However, Watson is deaf--it could never hear him. You'll also hear Ken's wish to stand up for the human race as he faces it. You'll hear the creator's wish that Watson-like helpers could save lives in hospitals with their vast knowledge available in a second.
Hoping Watson wins. It'll be a huge tribute to technology and AI research. It might spawn harder looks at that area of the sciences. It'll sure be interesting to see. However, no matter who wins the charity challenge, the general public, kids, parents, students and everyone will be exposed to this fascinating computer. It'll spark people's interests and create new scientists & future researchers...and when that happens: everybody wins.