I’m Anthropomorphizing this Machine

Eric Siegel on IBM's Watson: This is the first time I’ve ever had the feeling and the impulse to say, “You know what?  That’s intelligent.”

You can watch IBM’s Watson compete on the televised episodes on YouTube where they pitted it head-to-head against the two all-time human champions of the quiz show Jeopardy.  And when you’re watching it just rattles off one answer after another.  So it has its self-confidence assessment.  It’s predicting "I’m likely to answer this correctly...I have not only the best candidate answer but I think there is an 85-95 percent chance it’s correct."


It will buzz in and amongst those questions it buzzes in it really does answer correctly well over 90 percent of the time.  

It’s just churning out one answer after another very quickly to these complex questions - the kind of questions that, in fact, the more you’ve studied how to get computers to deal with English or other human languages, the more impressive it is.  It just blows you away. 

I never thought I would have that experience in my lifetime to see something able to just churn out the answers one after the other.  And when I watched it my feeling was "I’m anthropomorphizing this machine."  And it’s subjective but I’m telling you this is the first time I’ve ever had the feeling and the impulse to say, “You know what?  That’s intelligent.”

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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