Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Watson Wins Jeopardy!

Photograph by Seth Wenig, AP
Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings points to his IBM supercomputer opponentWatson, during a practice round for the TV game show last month. Jennings and fellow human contestant Brad Rutter competed against Watson in a three-episode tournament this week in the U.S.—and were summarily beaten by the computer last night.
Watson boasts a nearly 3,000-computer-processor "brain," which can perform various tasks simultaneously—an ability that could be unique and potentially very important in artificial intelligence, or AI, research, computer scientists say.
The "Watson program may turn out to be a major advance, because unlike most previous AI projects, it does not depend mainly on a single technique, such as reinforcement learning [learning via reward and punishment], or simulated evolution ... but tries to combine multiple methods," MIT computer scientist Marvin Minsky wrote in an email.
Minsky added, however, that Watson's contribution and importance to the field of AI won't be known until IBM publishes a technical report about the computer. (Published February 17, 2011)

Source:  National Geographic Channel

A. VOCABULARY:

1. opponent - a contestant that you are matched against; adversary
2. summarily - over a short period of time, briefly
3. boast - show off
4. potentially - with a possibility of becoming actual or real
5. artificial intelligence - the concept of making computers do tasks once considered to require thinking; makes computers play chess and recognize handwriting and speech, etc.
6. turn out - result
7. advance - progress, development
8. reinforcement learning - sub-area of machine learning, learning via reward and punishment
9. simulate - copy, imitate


B. QUESTIONS


1. Who/what is Watson?
2. There is an article in www.time.com which says that in 2045, humans can be immortal because of technology. Do you think this will happen?
3. Should humans be scared of robots?


C. FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS:
http://www.esldiscussions.com/t/technology.html
http://www.esldiscussions.com/r/robots.html

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