Monday, April 27, 2009

AI to compete on Jeopardy...

FTA: I.B.M. plans to announce Monday that it is in the final stages of completing a computer program to compete against human “Jeopardy!” contestants. If the program beats the humans, the field of artificial intelligence will have made a leap forward.

There is still hope for the Ken Jennings out there: ...the creators of the system — which the company refers to as Watson, after the I.B.M. founder, Thomas J. Watson Sr. — said they were not yet confident their system would be able to compete successfully on the show, on which human champions typically provide correct responses 85 percent of the time.

And as usual, this isn't true AI: The team is aiming not at a true thinking machine but at a new class of software that can “understand” human questions and respond to them correctly. Such a program would have enormous economic implications.

And if you're wondering what makes this machine different from a Wolfram Alpha w/ an internet connection: To approximate the dimensions of the challenge faced by the human contestants, the computer will not be connected to the Internet, but will make its answers based on text that it has “read,” or processed and indexed, before the show.

This is going to be interesting, expect some impressive bits and the occasional blunder: the program stumbled when it decided it had high confidence that a “sheet” was a fruit.

And, as always, I remind you that AI doesn't have to reach the level of true sentience before it becomes a major disruptive technology. How many of your jobs depend on your ability to understand Shakespeare or interpret an impressionist painting? At some point the AI is 'smart enough' and 'flexible enough' to approximate a human level output in a job. At that point, it becomes just a question of when will this AI be cheap enough to replace a person at that job.

And another article.

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