Continuing a short-lived fascination with Skynet’s imminent takeover, recently I saw that IBM has designed a computer to win at Jeopardy. The associated competition begins airing, oddly enough, on Valentine’s day. And hey, that’s neat. This particular man vs. machine skirmish is a lot more approachable than Deep Blue vs. Kasparov. But there’s something odd here…
“The algorithms are backed up by vast databases, though there’s no active connection to the internet — that seems like it would be cheating, in Jeopardy terms.”
The gifted people at IBM know a lot more about artificial intelligence than I do. But this quote reveals something that seems… silly. Watson has no connection to the internet. That may be a requirement for this game show. But does it make any sense for the future of artificial intelligence, or computer design in general? Isn’t our future going to be connected all the time, with most of the hard computer work done in the cloud?
On the other hand, it seems search browsers are competitive right now, and that’s without any PhDs adapting their intelligence to offer questions in reply to answers. Google could be competitive with Watson, given that it scores higher than most humans, and would certainly be competitive on any random night of Jeopardy. And Google isn’t even trying yet.
The real takeaway? Your Search browser is probably smarter than you. Already.