Elementary, Watson: The Rise of the Anthropomorphic Machine

Eric Siegel never thought he would experience a machine acting in a way that he would subjectively consider to be intelligent. IBM's Watson, however,  changed all of that. 

Intelligence is a subjective word.


For instance, if a computer can beat a human chess grand master, does that represent intelligence? That was a grand challenge that was designed in the 1960s, and IBM engineers proved they understood computer technology well enough to take on the task when they developed Deep Blue. 

While Deep Blue's exploits certainly represented a landmark in the development of artificial intelligence, did the computer pass the threshold in which it could actually be described as "intelligent"?

Eric Siegel, an expert in machine learning and natural language processing, says he never thought he would in his lifetime experience a machine acting in a way that he would subjectively consider to be intelligent. IBM's Watson, however,  changed all of that. Watson is a computer system that is able to rapidly understand and analyze natural language. Siegel details how Watson works in his book, Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die.

In the video below, Siegel tells Big Think how despite his earlier skepticism, the experience of watching Watson beat humans in the game show Jeopardy! was an experience that was anthropomorphic.

"This computer seems like a person in that very specific skill set," Siegel says. "That’s incredible. I’m going to call that intelligent.”

Watch the video here:

 

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