Tag Archives | Watson

Supercomputers and Slang

We’re still waiting for machines to pass the Turing test. Recent film work with the chatbot Cleverbot shows the futility of passing the bar for natural conversation. But there are certainly things that bots do better than us, and even those humans who are trying to stifle their progress.

Via Fortune:

Eric Brown, a research scientist with IBM (IBM), is the brains behind Watson, the supercomputer that pummeled human opponents on Jeopardy! in 2011. The biggest difficulty for Brown, as tutor to a machine, hasn’t been making Watson know more but making it understand subtlety, especially slang. “As humans, we don’t realize just how ambiguous our communication is,” he says.

Case in point: Two years ago, Brown attempted to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary. The popular website contains definitions for terms ranging from Internet abbreviations like OMG, short for “Oh, my God,” to slang such as “hot mess.”

But Watson couldn’t distinguish between polite language and profanity — which the Urban Dictionary is full of.

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New Jersey Congressman Is First To Beat Watson On Jeopardy

Rep. Rush Holt

Rep. Rush Holt

USA Today reports:

Two weeks after Watson trounced two Jeopardy! champions during a man-vs.-machine match, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., beat the computer during a technology exhibition practice game.

“I was proud to hold my own with Watson,” Holt said of his win Monday night. “More importantly, I was proud to join IBM and other members of Congress to highlight the importance of science and math education and research and development.”

The games were meant to emphasize the importance of technology in global competitiveness for American businesses, as well as a need for more focus on math and science education.

It wasn’t Holt’s first time providing answers in the form of a question: The physicist has won Jeopardy! five times in the past.

In the first round, Holt won $6,600; Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., earned $1,000; and Watson made $6,200. No one actually received money for the games.

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