Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Why does an AI pioneer think that Jeopardy winner Watson is a “fraud”?

arroba Email
Coloured robot design Free Vector
This. Post. Is.Not. An. Approved. Direction. Of. CorrectThought. (Rule # 0013654)

This is relevant if you know people who think that someday soon computers will think like people:

The famous Jeopardy contest in 2011 worked around the fact that Watson could not grasp the meaning of anything.

There’s two kinds of games going on. One was, for the human contestants, they weren’t allowed to buzz in until the light went on and it took them a fraction of a second to see the light and respond. And Watson couldn’t see lights so it was sent an electronic signal when it was okay to buzz in and that signal got there faster and was processed faster. And so Watson was repeatedly able to buzz in faster than the humans were. And it wasn’t that the humans didn’t know the answer, it was that they just didn’t have the reflexes.

The other gaming was that computers don’t really understand words… So you ask, “Who was the sixteenth president of the United States.”? The computer doesn’t know what “sixteenth” and “president of the United States” mean. But it can go and rummage through Wikipedia-like sources and find those words and match them to a president, Abraham Lincoln and come back with “‘Who’ was Abraham Lincoln.”

But then you put anything in that’s like a pun or a joke or a riddle or sarcasm, that you can’t look up in Wikipedia, and computers are helpless. < “Why an AI pioneer thinks Watson is a “fraud”” at Mind Matters News

It is not your new overlord. It is a very big adding machine that works very fast.


Here are the show notes.

See also: Earlier discussions between Robert J. Marks and Gary Smith:

Can AI combat misleading medical research? No, because AI doesn’t address the “Texas Sharpshooter Fallacies” that produce the bad data.

AI delusions: A statistics expert sets us straight. We learn why Watson’s programmers did not want certain Jeopardy questions asked.


The US 2016 election: Why Big Data failed. Economics professor Gary Smith sheds light on the surprise result.

Further reading on “lies, damned lies, and statistics”*:

Big data can lie: Simpson’s Paradox Simpson’s Paradox illustrates the importance of human interpretation of the results of data mining. (Robert J. Marks)

Study shows eating raisins causes plantar warts. Sure. Because, if you torture a Big Data enough, it will confess to anything. (Robert J. Marks)

  • A proverb among 19th century British politicians, popularized by Mark Twain. “It suggests that statisyics can be used to mislead even more than the worst form of untruth.” – The Phrase Finder

Follow UD News at Twitter!

Right- searching for the question is not the same as creating it. And next time they should have it be voice activated, responding to the answers provided by Alex. ET
I watched that episode of Jeopardy and it seemed to me that Watson had two advantages. It got the text the same time as Alex started reading it to the humans, so it had a second or more with the answer, allowing it more time to generate the question. (Perhaps I'm wrong, but that is how it seemed to me.) Second, I thought more of the answers were simple brute factoids or obscure trivia that Watson could easily find in its database, rather than the normal convoluted answers in Jeopardy requiring deeper understanding and thought. I.e. despite disclaimers to the contrary, I think the questions were skewed in Watson's favour - not that Alex would lie of course... Fasteddious
There is an episode of TV series "The Prisoner", starring Patrick McGoohan, in which the people who run the Village begin "sleep training" the inmates. And so each morning everyone is asking a question about the factoid that had been taught while asleep the night before. Final Number 6 (McGoohan) responds to someone asking him the standard "When was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk signed?" with, "What did the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk DO?" No one can answer 6's question because the Sleep Training only included isolated factoids. When other prisoners also begin asking about MEANINGS, the whole sleep training thing collapses. I know lots and lots of factoids, but I never watch Jeopardy because they NEVER talk about what the subject of the question MEANS. Memorizing factoids is NEVER to be confused with Education or, more importantly, Knowledge. vmahuna

Leave a Reply