Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Elementary, My Dear Watson"

Watson is cheating! Unlike his competitors, he has the unfair advantage of being given a question as an ASCII text message. This is virtually instant i.e., not requiring optical character or speech recognition.

Watson is essentially a basic computer algorithm that searches multiple databases for a closely correlated set of words (those contained in the text question). Once sectors of correlating databases have been identified, these sectors are searched for the single word or phrase of highest occurrence. Add the "What is" prefix and Watson, using voice synthesis commonly found at the checkout counter, spews out an answer.

Watson also has the home team advantage at IBM headquarters where the games were taped, not to mention the virtually unlimited computing power of Watson's refrigerated mainframe. Watson is also allowed unlimited space rather than being restricted between his two spatially disadvantaged competitors.

While his IBM developers affirm it would be unfair to connect to internet, they are actually being deceptive. Raw internet content would be unmanageable; too much inaccurate information. Everyone knows, you can't believe everything you read on the internet. For this reason, pre-processed internet content (reputable databases that Jeopardy uses for determining questions) is stored in Watson's massive memory repository. If that is not cheating, what is!

Of course most will still steadfastly contend that Watson is far more sophisticated even though he repeated Ken Jennings' previously incorrect answer, a coding error most Junior High programmers would have caught. You can be sure that IBM heads will roll tomorrow!

All being said, the Jeopardy event was a more entertaining IBM commercial than their standard fair.