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The Watson super computer...Skynet?


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#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Inspector Hammer!

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Posted February 15 2011 - 03:14 PM

Has anyone been reading about this? It's currently playing contestants on Jeopardy but the future of this thing actually sort of scares me a little...


http://cosmiclog.msn...rdy-watson-wins


I know I know, I've seen The Terminator too many times but come on there's no denying the similarities, read that article and tell me it doesn't sound exactly like the beginning of something Skynet-like, indeed the blind optimism expressed in that article reminds me a lot of the way Miles Dyson talked about it in T2.


Yes, I'm asking seriously, could a situation like the one depicted in those films happen (minus time travel and Endoskeletons of course) if a computer similar to Skynet is created and we turn too much control over to it?


I don't know, maybe it's the Sarah Connor in me talking but I think they need to destroy that thing.


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#2 of 34 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 15 2011 - 03:55 PM

I was reassured when they said it wouldn't be connected to the Internet. :)


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#3 of 34 OFFLINE   CRyan

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Posted February 15 2011 - 04:29 PM

When a computer can create brand new complex algorithms to solve new problems it faces I will take notice.  Currently, these things are just operating off more and more complex and better written (by humans) code.  These computers are able to learn and provide answers not predicted by their creators for sure, but they are still just doing what their creators programmed them to do.


But, if we want to be outlandish, we could imagine a world where Stuxnet invades a computer such as Watson. :)


#4 of 34 OFFLINE   Greg_S_H

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Posted February 15 2011 - 04:35 PM

I wish it had led off on Jeopardy with, "Greetings, Professor Falken  Shall we play a game?  Just kidding!"



#5 of 34 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 15 2011 - 04:37 PM

It was definitely interesting when it answered incorrectly. Obviously Harry Potter is not its forté. :)


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#6 of 34 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted February 16 2011 - 06:56 AM



Originally Posted by Inspector Hammer! 
maybe it's the Sarah Connor in me talking but I think they need to destroy that thing.


It's quite silly to advocate its destruction.  Nowhere in the article is there even a hint of turning over "control" to computers.  You should know by now that movie fantasies depicting such things (as well as many others) are exactly that--fantasies.



#7 of 34 OFFLINE   Inspector Hammer!

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Posted February 16 2011 - 08:20 AM

Yes well some fantasies often come very close to becoming a reality, look at Stanley Kubrick, he called more than a few of the things we have now in a movie that's 42 years-old, same with Star Trek, we now have cell phones and Bluetooth which are essentially communicators and we also have Enterprise Bridge-style flat screens that hang on our walls.


It's entirely within the realm of possibility that a super computer could impact us negatively in some form or another if developed to it's full potential which none of us can say for sure where it's limitations are at this point.


I tend to think that we are often so golly-gee fascinated by advancing technology that we can't see when it's perhaps time to stop, just my opinion.


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#8 of 34 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 16 2011 - 08:31 AM

So...has anyone watched the show? Last part is tonight. Watson is in the lead with like $34,000. The piddly humans haven't even cracked $10,000. :)


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#9 of 34 OFFLINE   Greg_S_H

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Posted February 16 2011 - 09:48 AM

I've watched it. I watch J! every day anyway. I don't really like the format, but I guess they know people wouldn't tune in for a Watson explanation show with no game. Was funny when Watson picked odd sums for his Daily Double bets.

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   CRyan

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Posted February 16 2011 - 10:14 AM

"Yes well some fantasies often come very close to becoming a reality, look at Stanley Kubrick, he called more than a few of the things we have now in a movie that's 42 years-old, same with Star Trek, we now have cell phones and Bluetooth which are essentially communicators and we also have Enterprise Bridge-style flat screens that hang on our walls."


I tend to believe that has more to do with the science and tech advisors those directors utilized than anything else.  But interesting nevertheless.


#11 of 34 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

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Posted February 16 2011 - 10:23 AM

Missed Monday night, viewed last night and plan to watch again tonight.  The performance was fairly impressive.  Along with the audience members who applauded Watson's performance; I welcome the first emissary from our future robotic overlords.

On a slightly more serious note, I expect some grand things from our advances in computing.


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#12 of 34 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted February 16 2011 - 03:06 PM



Originally Posted by Inspector Hammer! 

Yes well some fantasies often come very close to becoming a reality, look at Stanley Kubrick, he called more than a few of the things we have now in a movie that's 42 years-old, same with Star Trek, we now have cell phones and Bluetooth which are essentially communicators and we also have Enterprise Bridge-style flat screens that hang on our walls.


It's entirely within the realm of possibility that a super computer could impact us negatively in some form or another if developed to it's full potential which none of us can say for sure where it's limitations are at this point.


I tend to think that we are often so golly-gee fascinated by advancing technology that we can't see when it's perhaps time to stop, just my opinion.


The fantasy part isn't the advanced technology;  What's fantasy is the idea that


a.  A supercomputer must develop a malevolent consciousness by "accident".


b.  Humans would give such a computer physical control over themselves, or the computer could "grab" physical control via the Internet or the phone system.


c.  Humans couldn't simply turn off such a computer if they chose to.


It's similar to the Y2K hysteria.  I distinctly remember people claiming planes would fall out of the sky, cars would stop running, etc., which was, of course, nonsense.  One can always think of drawbacks to technology, but there's nothing even remotely threatening about AI research.



#13 of 34 OFFLINE   Inspector Hammer!

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Posted February 16 2011 - 03:13 PM

Well I guess I have my answer, they can make a computer as smart as they like as long as they install a switch to turn the damn thing off lol.


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#14 of 34 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 16 2011 - 03:15 PM

I don't know why Jennings didn't wager more than $1K, but I guess his confidence in 19th Century authors wasn't very high. And I guess there was no hope of him winning the whole thing anyway.


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#15 of 34 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted February 16 2011 - 03:22 PM

Did they ever explain how Watson determined his wagers for the Doubles and Final? There must have been a reason why he kept giving such odd amounts. I also don't understand why he only wagered $947 on something as simple as "US Cities" (though he then apparently wasn't aware that Toronto was in Canada), then several thousand on "19th Century Authors."


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#16 of 34 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 16 2011 - 03:32 PM

No details about its wagering rationale, but this an interesting article: http://arstechnica.c...in-jeopardy.ars



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#17 of 34 OFFLINE   Steve Christou

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Posted February 17 2011 - 05:59 AM

I'll wager 400 Quatloos on the newcomer!


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#18 of 34 ONLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted February 17 2011 - 06:16 AM

Here's an article on Watson's wagering strategy.


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#19 of 34 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted February 17 2011 - 07:14 AM

I have to admit, watching the robot mind sweep up the feeble meat brains was exhilarating television! It'd be cool to see another one of these in a few years to see if they can further refine it's understanding so it isn't so crap at art questions (IBM programmers don't seem to know anything about art ha ha). Sadly, they're going to waste it by letting it loose in the medical industry to help with diagnosing patients. Plah!  :P



#20 of 34 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted February 17 2011 - 08:38 AM

Jeopardy-playing computer Watson: (yawn) I've got "Siri". IBM spends its fortunes & man-years creating 1960s-esque, house-filling computer for the useless task of playing a specialized game show. But for a year, I've had an app on my *phone* that "understands" natural language and does useful things like finding restaurants. While IBM's doing expensive tech demos, other people are making amazing tools for daily life.






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