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I’ll Die With My Buzzer In My Hand V

January 14, 2011

So IBM’s Watson has (according to Engadget in the mandatory Machines Vs. Us lingo) “destroyed all humans” in a sample round of Jeopardy!, beating both Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter (looking much fitter and trimmer).  However, all questions and categories were weighted towards the machine’s skill set, with all responses “easily” accessible through Pure Reason, at which of course a computer excels – no puns, no wordplay, no rhyme time.  I certainly hope this isn’t a sign of how the real game will be structured – of course a computer can take the words “Hawes Minoan Island” and come up with Crete or figure out that “Kenyon excavation city Joshua walls” equals Jericho.

Filling in the blanks in children’s book titles posed a bigger challenge to Watson – the longer they were, and the longer the string to be filled in, the less certain it was of the correct answer.  And in the “MC5” category, where MC = a name with the initials M.C., it couldn’t shake “motorcycle club” as its second best guess at an answer even as it became clear that MC = a person’s name (Mario Cuomo, Maurice Chevalier, etc.). 

Fine – now let’s see how it plays a less “linear” set of problems.

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