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Watson Wins Man Machine Match-up

February 17, 2011

Can Machines Think?

Alan Turing first asked the question and gave us a way of determining if it was true.

The Turing Test was introduced by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence, which opens with the words: “I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?'”

Wikipedia sums up the test thusly: “Rather than trying to determine if a machine is thinking, Turing suggests we should ask if the machine can win a game, called the “Imitation Game“. It involves three participants in isolated rooms: a computer (which is being tested), a human, and a (human) judge. The human judge can converse with both the human and the computer by typing into a terminal. Both the computer and human try to convince the judge that they are the human. If the judge cannot consistently tell which is which, then the computer wins the game.”

For more than you’ll ever need to know about the Turing Test…

2012 Alan Turing Year, Turing 100 on June 23, 2012

2012 Will see a celebration of Turing’s life and scientific impact, with a number of major events taking place throughout the year. Most of these will be linked to places with special significance in Turing’s life, such as Cambridge, Manchester, and Bletchley Park. The Alan Turing Year is coordinated by the Turing Centenary Advisory Committee.

Now 60 years after the test was proposed by Turing, Big Blue can answer boldly, yes they can. Way beyond the relatively simple Imitation Game, Jeopardy challenges machines in understanding hard questions put to it in man’s natural language with the wicked Jeopardy phrasing twists.

Not since 1997 when IBM’s Deep Blue, a chess-playing computer, won a six-game match by two wins to one with three draws against Grand Master and world champion Garry Kasparov has man been so humbled.

History was made yesterday and an important milestone reached when IBM’s Watson, named for company founder Thomas John Watson, Sr., took on the best of Jeopardy winners and whipped them good.

Artificial intelligence to transform web: Russian tycoon

12/28/10, MOSCOW — The emergence of artificial intelligence is to transform the Internet industry and social networking over the next decade, Russia’s leading web tycoon said in an interview on Tuesday.

The low-profile Yury Milner, chairman in the rapidly expanding Internet firm and CEO of DST Global investment company who built minority stakes in Facebook and other Western firms, made the comments in an rare interview with Vedomosti.

“I think that in 10 years if you ask a question on a social network and you get an answer you will not know if a computer or a person has answered you,” Milner told the financial daily.

“When you receive a question, you will not know if it has been asked by a person or an artificial intelligence. And by answering you help the computer create an algorithm.”

Milner said there had been a revolutionary change in demand for information and now there was “as much information generated in the the last two days as there was in the history of civilisation up to 2003.” Read full article…

These Man vs. Machine Match-ups are not new, here’s some history and let us not forget John Henry.

Super intelligent machines with human strength brains are not new – no sir. Check out this 1940’s dazzling display of intellect from Westinghouse.

The Thing with an almost Human Brain Elektro the Rabut!

Actually Elektro was more sophisticated than this videos shows. Here’s an extract from an enlightening article about Elektro by Noel Sharkey, professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, UK “The incredible ingenuity of Elektro’s design was topped off by his sleek exterior. There was no remote control. Instead, the robot relied on a combination of motors, photoelectric cells, telephone relays and record players to perform 26 preprogrammed routines, each one initiated by voice commands from a human co-star. These were spoken into a telephone connected to the robot’s chest, where circuitry converted each syllable into a pulse of light and transmitted it to a photoelectric cell. A second circuit added up the syllables and triggered relays to operate the corresponding electromechanical functions: a command with three syllables, for example, would start the robot’s routine, and four syllables would stop it. As part of these routines, Elektro would raise and lower his arms, turn his head, move his mouth, count on his fingers and even smoke a cigarette and puff out smoke.” Read full article…

You can watch a better Elektro video. And to see a fun video from Time about our Love/Fear releationships with smart machines go to: When Robots Attack! Should We Fear a Singularity?

And here’s the tale of John Henry, American Folk Hero

The Ballad of John Henry : Clip taken from “To Hear Your Banjo Play” a movie in the Public Domain at narrated by Pete Seeger.

John Henry won his match-up against the steam hammer but lost his life to do so in the battle of brawn.

In another video with good graphics Eddie Albert sang…

John Henry said to his Captain,
“A man ain’t nothin’ but a man,
And before I’ll let your steam drill beat me down,
Die with the hammer in my hand,
Die with the hammer in my hand.”

Huddie “Leadbelly” or “Lead Belly” Ledbetter does a version of “John Henry,” explaining his version of the song’s origins.

Finally, here’s an update from Bonamassa performing the hard ronckin’  The Ballad of John Henry.  “Live From The Royal Albert Hall”

Now there’s no doubt that we need to travel to our future with intelligent machines with our eyes open. I was surprised that the bright engineers at IBM said they had not given the impact of Watson’s victory much thought. Of course we here at Innovational Musing do and as the Time video illustrates science fiction writers have been thinking about it for a long time.

We want to know who will be coming when we say, “Watson come here I want you.”

Related Posts

For more on AI & Turing Test see: Mind vs. Machine

To see what Watson may do in healthcare see: Calling Dr. Watson

PBS’s Nova has a special about Watson called: Smartest Machine on Earth

Other Man vs. Machine Match-ups:  A selective history of human-computer showdowns

How Watson impacts: The Future of Computing


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