Artificial Intelligence Meets Alex Trebek

We’ve all watched Jeopardy and felt like a freakin’ moron. Even the brightest among us usually finds the dizzying array of trivia impossible to keep up with and when someone like Ken Jennings goes on a 74-game rampage and, with an unstoppable, crushing power, overwhelms countless patsies with an info-dump that would tax any computer’s stacks…we all imagine they are some kind of super-powered cyborg or something, because “dayam…how can any person POSSIBLY know that much crap?!” 🙂

Well, the world of computer science, artificial intelligence, and even human society at large, is about to get quite a jolt when a supercomputer (dubbed Watson) that has been trained to think like a Jeopardy champion using a neural-networking approach that now dominates intelligent programming worldwide…plays the game for real against the two greatest Jeopardy players of all time. The aforementioned Jennings (current holder of the all-time winning-streak record) and Brad Rutter (the all time money-list leader at over 3 million smackers) will take on our best efforts in artificial intelligence to date in a three-day show-down:

The IBM Challenge

Like Deep Blue (who defeated a chess grandmaster in 1999), the goal of this challenge is not to create a multi-billion-dollar game playing computer but to prove that a computer can be trained to think like a Vulcan. Notice I did not say human. No one currently believes a computer will ever be capable of emotion. However, pure human logic may one day DRAMATICALLY improve disciplines like medicine, meteorology, and economics. Imagine a computer that can analyze error patterns in numerical weather prediction models and learn how to adjust the forecast based on the current atmospheric flow. Or a machine that can instantly scan thousands of medical journals around the world with information about your symptoms and all of your vital health statistics and produce a list of possible diagnoses in order of probability that a doctor can then test – virtually eliminating the problem of the family doctor who’s never heard of the condition you have. Or a machine that can analyze patterns in the stock market, including the vital statistics about each company and make probabilistic recommendations about how to invest (or even…how to alter the prime interest rate to get the best productivity at the Federal level).

All of this may soon be possible…and we’ll see how close we are to the day when AI can think like a Vulcan February 14th-16h. I encourage everyone to tune in. I know I will.

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