Tuesday, February 15, 2011

IBM's Watson on Jeopardy

Lissen to my story;
'Tis a story true;
'Bout a might man, --John Henry was his name,
An' John Henry was a steel-driver too--
Lawd, -- Lawd, --
John Henry was a steel-driver too.
I've been watching the match between two Jeopardy champions and the IBM computer called "Watson." It hasn't been much fun. The first two days were mostly self-congratulating commercials from IBM.
One day Cap' Tommy told him
How he'd bet a man;
Bet John Henry'd beat a steam-drill down,
Jes' cause he was th' best in th' lan',--
Lawd, -- Lawd, --
'Cause he was th' best in th' lan.
But the little bit that was game was mostly horrible because the heartless machine was beating the shit out of the humans.
White Man tol' John Henry,--
"Niggah, dam yo' soul,
You might beat dis steam an' drill o' mine
When th' rocks in this mountain turn to gol',--
Lawd, -- Lawd, --
When th' rocks in this mountain turn to gol'."
The machine is not flawless. It is cowardly when it comes to wagering. While the machine is relentless where there are several clues that allows it to triangulate an answer and it has superhuman reactions, but if the question requires even the tiniest intuitive leap the machine is as helpless as a poorly tuned Yugo.
John Henry, O, John Henry!
Sing it if yo' can,--
High an' low an' ev'ry where yo' go,--
He died with his hammah in his han',--
Lawd, -- Lawd, --
He died with his hammah in his han'. ~
Construction Crew Version
A man ain't nothing but a man. His machines may be faster, stronger, and even able to process information quicker. His machines may be able to calculate permutations to a depth no human synapse can achieve. But these machines still cannot look at a falling leaf and infer gravity.  They can out tote and tally their creators but these machines still cannot reach any conclusion that was not first deduced by a human.
Artist: Palmer Hayden

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