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I’ll Die With My Buzzer In My Hand III

December 16, 2010

Looking forward to Watson’s appearance on Jeopardy!, last night’s episode had a category that will absolutely slay a computer.  I can’t find the exact questions (they’ll show up here sometime today I imagine) but essentially the category was “two false things and one true thing” about a person.  So you had questions like “this dame married a Jonas Brother, this dame had seven Oscar nominations in 2001-2007, this dame won the Nobel prize” or some such.  So if you could focus on “Dame Oscar 2001-2007” and the “ring of truth” about it and discard the “nonsense,” you’d know it was Judi Dench – but a computer (unless IBM has some very big surprises up its sleeve) doesn’t know bad info from good – it will try and parse all the “information” in those questions and hit a dead end, unable to reconcile all the data and unable to split it up (at least in the time allotted) into what does and doesn’t “sound right” – into truth and fiction, in other words.

That’s the problem with thinking too mathematically about the future of AI – math is “elegant,” because you can’t complete a formula on a blackboard without all of it being true; numbers can’t lie etc.  But applying the assumption of truth to all the “information” written on the blackboard of the Internet (or Jeopardy!), when so much of it is mis- or disinformation, will trigger a system error when a program tries to reconcile it.  As it exists now, AI can sort the facts by popularity, but it can’t find the truth.  The Nobel Prize will eventually go not to Dame Judi but to the programmer who can build a “bullshitometer” into the algorithms that drive our Internet searches.

[Edit – I don’t follow much Facebook news so I missed this until this a.m. when I was reading about Microsoft’s latest improvements to Bing.  Turns out MS is partnering with FB to use FB’s “like” feature to improve Bing recommendations – exactly the sort of hand-correction of the Matrix that’s necessary, though unfortunately to benefit from it you have to surrender and not only join but actively use FB *and* have enough like-minded “friends” for the results to be effective.]

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