Watson Really a Fool

Those in charge of the artificial intelligence hype delight in exciting us and frightening us with the fiction of a machine that can think. It’s great theater, but that’s all it is.

Watson, the I.B.M.-built computer that won a game of "Jeopardy" last week over two human opponents, does not come within a million miles of replicating the achievements of everyday human thought. Watson’s builders know this; when they are interviewed they are careful to stay away from claims that their creation simulates human mental processes (although they also murmur something about future hopes). But those in charge of the artificial intelligence hype are not so careful and they delight in exciting us and frightening us with the fiction of a machine that can think. It’s great theater, or in Watson’s case, great television, but that’s all it is.

Watch: The first AI-scripted commercial is here, and it’s surprisingly good

A new AI-produced commercial from Lexus shows how AI might be particularly suited for the advertising industry.

Technology & Innovation
  • The commercial was written by IBM's Watson. It was acted and directed by humans.
  • Lexus says humans played a minimal part in influencing Watson, in terms of the writing.
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A new study says alcohol changes how the brain creates memories

A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
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  • The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
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Who believes fake news? Study identifies 3 groups of people

Then again, maybe the study is fake news too.

Surprising Science
  • Recent research challenged study participants to pick real news headlines from fake ones.
  • The results showed that people prone to delusional thinking, religious fundamentalists, and dogmatists tended to believe all news, regardless of plausibility.
  • What can you do to protect yourself and others from fake news?
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