Sapphire Sky

June 25, 2010

We lost on Jeopardy …

Filed under: culture, technology — Christ Ranger @ 8:14 pm

Most the world did not have a World Cup team to cheer for.  Major countries and several significant ones failed to even qualify, e.g. China, India, Russia.  While we’re competing fiercely with each other, this Century may bring about a fundamental change in how and with whom/what we compete.  I believe that by 2050, we’ll be discussing whether the robots (or manufactured people) will soon beat the world’s best soccer team in a match, if it hasn’t already happened by then.  According to the NY Times, it looks like we’re already losing to the not-quite-AI machines in TV game shows, or soon will be.  A virtual Vanna White may be turning placards for HAL soon enough.

 ‘Toured the Burj in this U.A.E. city. They say it’s the tallest tower in the world; looked over the ledge and lost my lunch.’ 

 This is the quintessential sort of clue you hear on the TV game show “Jeopardy!” It’s witty (the clue’s category is “Postcards From the Edge”), demands a large store of trivia and requires contestants to make confident, split-second decisions. This particular clue appeared in a mock version of the game in December, held in Hawthorne, N.Y. at one of I.B.M.’s research labs. Two contestants — Dorothy Gilmartin, a health teacher with her hair tied back in a ponytail, and Alison Kolani, a copy editor — furrowed their brows in concentration. Who would be the first to answer? 

Neither, as it turned out. Both were beaten to the buzzer by the third combatant: Watson, a supercomputer. 

For more see: What Is I.B.M.’s Watson?  

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