Our friends at Big Blue (IBM) have once again provided us with some interesting parlor amusement with their new incarnation of “Deep Blue” the chess playing super computer, named “Watson”. The Jeopardy based computer system which out of the gate laid waste to two of the top Jeopardy champions of all time, so should we be impressed?
Unfortunately, many achievements like this are going the way of the moon launches, as the first time around it was “oh wow“! Then the second time it was “oh ho hum, been there done that“, which creates an issue. This is because the world is driven by public perception, and we tend to fund or invest in things which interest us rather than once that appear mundane or run of the mill yet still provide value. In other words, new and sexy sells.
When I first heard of “Watson“, it struck me as oh good a rehash of “Deep Blue” cross bread with Google, so where is the magic? However what I missed is what most others will also miss is this is most likely the closest we as humans have come to building a machine capable of successfully completing the Turing Test. Next you’re going to say what does this mean and who cares as just give me more “World of Warcraft“.
Well the answer is both simple and critical, as our friend Moore is in the need of assistance and I’ve written on the topic several times. This expansion loop is not only the reason you have the “World of Warcraft“, but more importantly why you have the time to play it rather than toil in a factory as your father or grandfather did. Moore’s law or the result there of has yielded more in the way of social effluence than any other activity in the entire history of mankind.
However the steam is running out and the torch needs to be passed as successive reinforcing loops have been based upon technology supported by human knowledge which has built upon each successive pass. However the breath of combined “human” knowledge is now so wide it has become like a bridge without supports and is bending under its own weight. Even with rote collaboration tools, man cannot keep up with the growth of his knowledge base.
Here is where the game changer comes in, Deep Blue simply applied rote calculating ability with advanced predictive logic to forecast a future out come. As man to man, chess is a game of strategy as humans have “agendas” which drive actions. However a machine like Deep Blue simply makes chess what it really is a rote “Game of Large” numbers.
However Watson is the game changer here as it takes us passed the basic “predictive” models and moves us into the age of “associative” models. Where like Deep Blue, Watson uses rote computing (super) power to create “cognitive” based associative joins of the data. As what is interesting here is that in Jeopardy, Watson as a computer is being asked to do just the opposite of what a computer was intended to do, ask a question! While of course still synthetic in nature, having a machine being able to work vast sums of associated information backwards is an amazing ability as we know many answers however few questions.
Think about the number of millennium man knew the sun shined, however not the how. Therefore the logic would be answer:”Sun Shines” question “What is the result of stellar nucleosynthesis“. So think of it this way, the solution to the needed increases in nanonization of integrated circuitry might lay in multiple areas such as biology, astronomy, etc. However the breaths of the data sets for these fields are not only too large, they are too complex for even collaborative sets of humans to associate together. Therefore systems such as Watson networked together to form and an “artificial collective consciousness” could.
Please keep a fundamental rule in mind, information cannot be created nor destroyed. Therefore all information in existence exists today thus it’s only a matter of enumerating the infinite number of associations to find the answer…