Tuesday, February 15, 2011
How about a nice game of chess?
No, I want to play thermo-nuclear war.
Day 1 of the newest pop-culture AI experiment: Man vs. Machine on 'Jepoardy!'
Didn't I already do this in my friend's basement in 1989? I didn't have Nintendo, but my friend did, and we use to play for hours.
Anyhoo, the whole thing was a bit of a snooze-fest. Watson, the IBM supercomputer, tied with one of the super-champs, Brad Rutter, for $5000. Watson's not a real supercomputer, but a series of ten networked servers, and this commentator wonders why the super-champs couldn't have access to other brains, like in "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?" Watson made some boneheaded mistakes, blurting out bizarre answers just like the human contestants do.
But here's the thing: Would it really be news to anyone if a machine with thousands of terabytes of RAM could answer trivia questions faster than a person? It just doesn't seem that exciting, especially since my PC usually answers questions faster than I can. But here's an idea: a computer that can play multiple people in poker.
In the meantime...the earliest programmable machine? Probably
the Antikythera Mechanism, an astronomical calculator built over a century before the birth of Jesus.