Link of the Week - Move over, Deep Blue: Watson is here
To make artificial intelligence history, Deep Blue had to defeat chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov. Now those zany IBM AI researchers are at it again, pitting their latest experiment, Watson, against champions of a much more challenging game: Jeopardy.
Watson, which runs on a Blue Gene computer, uses a variety of separate algorithms to search its memory for answers to the clues posed on the show. Then, it combines the results each algorithm returns - taking certainty into consideration - to come up with an answer. This technique has made a huge difference, according to the team lead, David Ferrucci, as quoted in a great article that appeared in the New York Times in June.
Ferrucci says his team will continue to fine-tune Watson, but improving its performance is getting harder. “When we first started, we’d add a new algorithm and it would improve the performance by 10 percent, 15 percent,” he says. “Now it’ll be like half a percent is a good improvement.”
Creating an artificial Jeopardy champion was particularly difficult because the “questions” posed on the popular television game show often use plays on words that are exceedingly difficult for a computer to interpret correctly.
The potential applications for Watson are at least as interesting as the prospect of a televised man versus machine Jeopardy match.
“I want to create a medical version of this,” he adds. “A Watson M.D., if you will.” He imagines a hospital feeding Watson every new medical paper in existence, then having it answer questions during split-second emergency-room crises. “The problem right now is the procedures, the new procedures, the new medicines, the new capability is being generated faster than physicians can absorb on the front lines and it can be deployed.”
Want to read more about Watson? Check out this week’s link of the week, “What is IBM’s Watson?”