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IBM Dumping $1 Billion Into New Watson Group

samzenpus posted about 9 months ago | from the eggs-in-one-basket dept.

IBM 182

Nerval's Lobster writes "IBM believes its Watson supercomputing platform is much more than a gameshow-winning gimmick: its executives are betting very big that the software will fundamentally change how people and industries compute. In the beginning, IBM assigned 27 core researchers to the then-nascent Watson. Working diligently, those scientists and developers built a tough 'Jeopardy!' competitor. Encouraged by that success on live television, Big Blue devoted a larger team to commercializing the technology—a group it made a point of hiding in Austin, Texas, so its members could better focus on hardcore research. After years of experimentation, IBM is now prepping Watson to go truly mainstream. As part of that upgraded effort (which includes lots of hype-generating), IBM will devote a billion dollars and thousands of researchers to a dedicated Watson Group, based in New York City at 51 Astor Place. The company plans on pouring another $100 million into an equity fund for Watson's growing app ecosystem. If everything goes according to IBM's plan, Watson will help kick off what CEO Ginni Rometty refers to as a third era in computing. The 19th century saw the rise of a "tabulating" era: the birth of machines designed to count. In the latter half of the 20th century, developers and scientists initiated the 'programmable' era—resulting in PCs, mobile devices, and the Internet. The third (potential) era is 'cognitive,' in which computers become adept at understanding and solving, in a very human way, some of society's largest problems. But no matter how well Watson can read, understand and analyze, the platform will need to earn its keep. Will IBM's clients pay lots of money for all that cognitive power? Or will Watson ultimately prove an overhyped sideshow?"

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Bunnie Huang: Building an Open Source Laptop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914463)

Building an Open Source Laptop

By Bunnie Huang | 01/08/2014

http://makezine.com/magazine/building-an-open-source-laptop/ [makezine.com]

Blueprints:

http://www.kosagi.com/w/index.php?title=Novena_Main_Page [kosagi.com]

Natural Path of Computing (3, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 9 months ago | (#45914673)

The first human made computer was the Abacus.

It was used by the masses (mainly businessmen) to count their money.

Then came the Babbage Machine and Ada Lovelace - the first ever hardware / software combo. It was an important step in the evolutionary path of the computer but its effect was not as widespread as that of the Abacus.

Then came the electrical computer, with diodes. It was mainly used by the elites (military / academic) for war / research purposes.

And this was followed by the mainframe era - where corporations that were rich enough started to infiltrate the "elite circle" and gained the power to let computer automating part of their business activities.

Beginning in the 1970's the computer started to go back to where it came from, the masses. With hobby DIY kits, with many a hacker burning their finger tips to assemble their own computers, people started to realize and to tap on to what the computer can offer them.

It was, in fact, the IBM, an elite corporation (at that time) which popularize the computer - by deciding to *NOT* stopping others in duplicating the original IBM PC design.

This process went on for about 30-odd years and the computer progress from the desktop to the phone, and then, to wearables (wrist watch, head-bands, glasses).

As the masses started to get comfortable with computers, it moves up-stream again, back to the elites.

This "Watson" program represents another chapter of the computer evolution, and this time, it goes back to the elite circle.

So, as we see, the computer, starting as Abacus, was a device for the masses. And then, it became a device for the elites (Babbage machine). Then it became a device for the masses again (cellphone, tablets, wearables). And now, it moves back to the elites.

Tick - - - tock - - - tick - - - and now... tock

Re:Natural Path of Computing (2)

cusco (717999) | about 9 months ago | (#45915739)

Wonder how IBM is allocating those resources. If it's in typical American business fashion there will be $50 million going into actual research and development, $50 million into lawyers, and $900 million in marketing.

Natural Path of BitCoin (-1, Offtopic)

justthinkit (954982) | about 9 months ago | (#45915929)

...pre-history of money...blah, blah, blah...Federal Reserve scam...

It was, in fact, Satoshi Nakamoto that popularized BitCoin - by deciding to *NOT* stopping others from mining their own coins.

As the masses started to get comfortable with BitCoin, it moved up-stream again, back to the elites.

The dedicated minor machines were intended for the masses but instead were used by big companies to shake the last easy coins out of the tree.

Then it became a device for the masses again (pensioner, mom & dad, Johnny-come-latelys).

Tick - - - tock - - - tick - - - and now... tock

Re:Natural Path of Computing (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 9 months ago | (#45916119)

"The first human made computer was the Abacus."

Uh huh..

That's an interesting statement. Are you sure? To make any statement starting with "the first computer was..." you had better come up with a good robust definition of "computer". Depending on what you decide for that I bet you could vary the date of your 'first computer' by several millenia.

Then... what forgotten invention from a time before the one you chose will (or will not) be discovered by archaeologists tomorrow?

Maybe the first computer was some piles of stones that someone counted and shuffled stones around between them. Actually.. that sounds like a pretty likely predecessor to the abacus! Maybe somebody got tired of having to form the piles for each use and decided to put them on rods in a frame.

First question for Watson (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914475)

First Watson question: Will you be a success? One must assume that IBM would not be proceeding if that question hadn't been asked, or if the answer wasn't yes. So this must be the safest bet on the planet, no?

Re:First question for Watson (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 9 months ago | (#45914517)

It just might show the ultimate clue for computer intelligence: The ability to determine a personal gain and advantage from telling a lie.

Re:First question for Watson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45916049)

Watson, where is the best pizza at reasonable price in NYC ?

Re:where is the best pizza per price in NYC? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 9 months ago | (#45916081)

"In Manhattan where slices are sold for a dollar. The exhibit to be provided separately contains the ratings of 48 such pizza stores. Only you can know if your precise pizza preference differs from the public rating."

Re:where is the best pizza per price in NYC? (3, Funny)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about 9 months ago | (#45916725)

If watson had enough information about you, like google now, it could probably answer the question.

"Well, you seem to like Alfonse, you posted 'Alfonse pizza is the best' twice after going there, even though you go to Pete's more often. Visits to Petes are usually in response to an invite from friends, which usually ends with your head in a toilet for 5 minutes longer than normal. "

Re:First question for Watson (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about 9 months ago | (#45916249)

Godel says NO! Am I dreaming ?

The power of AI... (1)

Kiyooka (738862) | about 9 months ago | (#45914477)

For a while, It seemed certain that Google would be the first to reach the goal of "organizing the world's information". But maybe IBM will get there first. And if you think about it, considering all that Google does, it DOES seem quite absurd that they don't have a powerful consumer-level A.I. system on offer. Even a very rudimentary system could grow to become enormously helpful, especially given the wealth of data they have.

The day Watson ever hits less than $5000 or so as a consumer offer (even a simplified home computer you can talk to, like Computer in Star Trek), is the day I'll admit The Future Has Come.

Re:The power of AI... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914639)

Nah, Google would rather invest more money in schemes to compete with Facebook [slashdot.org] which is consistent with their business strategy so far since they've always made their money from advertising. And IBM has been about corporate infrastructure for a long time. As many have noted, Watson isn't about being a true A.I. It's about being able to fire all your call center techs.

Re:The power of AI... (1)

abhisri (960175) | about 9 months ago | (#45914641)

Need not take that long. Remember that line "if you build it, they(he) would come"? Once a new technology is made available to the public, people tend to hack it and tweak it to purposes that were not thought possible till then. Remember the PC kits apple used to sell out of a garage? Or consider the IOS app market.

So imagine someone hooking up Watson to a load of medical books, and then the system can suggest causes and tests to be taken, based on symptoms. Or maybe forecast trends in the financial market... there are applications that already do this, but this one has the potential to do it faster with more sizable chunk of data. It will take just one "angry bird" style success to win the folks over and start the gold rush. It all depends on the kind of support IBM provides or the sort of developer community it manages to foster.

Data != understanding (2)

Viol8 (599362) | about 9 months ago | (#45914829)

Google might have terabytes of data to sift through , but thats just ones and zeros unless you've developed a decent AI algorithm to turn it into computer knowledge and understanding. It seems IBM are on their way to doing just that and if they have then it'll be a game changer. Whether for good or bad is anyones guess - I suspect like most technology it'll be both.

Re:Data != understanding (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915747)

I agree. People vastly understate the importance of what Watson is trying to achieve (and has already in a sense). The complexity of being able to create organized structured, hierarchical knowledge out of a mass of unorganized data, is one of the most useful applications that we can think of this century. I can see this benefitting science and medicine tremendously, not to mention other segments of society, like law, business, etc...

Re:Data != understanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915993)

would you please give me one example of when 0s and 1s have been turned into understanding

Re:Data != understanding (1)

webmistressrachel (903577) | about 9 months ago | (#45916135)

Your post is an example of Slashdot turning 1s and 0s in the database, into my understanding that you don't know what you're talking about, troll.

Binary, and computing, and even mathematics, is ALL about understanding the world around us.

Re:The power of AI... (4, Interesting)

Lennie (16154) | about 9 months ago | (#45914861)

Why do you think it's AI ? Sounds to me 'just' a 'big-data' application.

As far as I've been able to determine it's just a cluster of machines running Apache Hadoop and some of their own software to shift through data:

Watson's software was written in various languages, including Java, C++, and Prolog, and uses Apache Hadoop framework for distributed computing, Apache UIMA (Unstructured Information Management Architecture) framework, IBM’s DeepQA software and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 operating system. According to IBM, "more than 100 different techniques are used to analyze natural language, identify sources, find and generate hypotheses, find and score evidence, and merge and rank hypotheses."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watson_(computer)#Software [wikipedia.org]

Re:The power of AI... (4, Interesting)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | about 9 months ago | (#45915415)

Why do you think it's AI ? Sounds to me 'just' a 'big-data' application.

As far as I've been able to determine it's just a cluster of machines running Apache Hadoop and some of their own software to shift through data.

These characterizations are not exactly wrong, but they are not useful. To discuss Watson in terms of its implementing technologies is to completely miss the point, as does dismissing it as a 'big-data app' (real AI, when it arrives, may well have 'big data' attributes.) The use of 'just' here is a misleading application of emphasis.

I don't think Watson deserves to be called AI either, but it is impressive, nonetheless.
 

Re:real AI does have 'big data' attributes (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 9 months ago | (#45916203)

Real AI absolutely has both "Big Data" and some surprising small data attributes.

The early stumbling block was the old question of how an 8 year old can know that you eat an apple the apple sits on the table, and you don't eat the table. Then you *can* write on both the table and the apple with a ball point pen, but your Mother would be upset if you wrote on the table, and your Doctor would be upset if you wrote on the apple, ate it, reacted to the ink, then got sick.

So there are these branching use cases, but they do in fact have a finite (but large) ending.

But those guys didn't have "today's resources". And apparently, not "Today's Money". What I take away from this story is that via the "expert apps", AI is becoming possible, and the Singularity *will* happen, When-Not-If.

A devastating case example is the low tier workers in places like McDonalds. The "people app" isn't that hard... any competent programmer could get close within four tries at the basic duty set. The only missing equation is that people have low level abilities like walking and (not often) dropping things, so then you just train them for a week and they can do it. To get a fleet of Robots is such a huge sunk cost, but that's the only equation.

Jeopardy was a tougher challenge than most people realize, because it was about obfuscated and obscured knowledge. So if the program can parse that, it can parse more direct English as a piece of cake, sometimes.

Re:The power of AI... (2)

bunratty (545641) | about 9 months ago | (#45916225)

Watson is as much AI as any other project I've ever seen. On the other hand, no AI I've ever seen understands what it's doing. Just as Deep Blue doesn't understand it's playing chess, just performing alpha-beta search on a game tree, Watson is just performing statistical analysis against entries in its database. It's similar to how modern translation programs work -- they do not parse and understand what a sentence says -- they instead perform statistical correlations to figure out which string of characters is most often associated with some other string of characters. Translation programs don't understand the sentences they are translating any more than Watson understands the answers it's giving. That's why modern translation programs are far from matching human performance.

Re:The power of AI... (2)

Capt.Albatross (1301561) | about 9 months ago | (#45916597)

Watson is as much AI as any other project I've ever seen. On the other hand, no AI I've ever seen understands what it's doing.

I agree, and also (much more significantly) so does David Deutsch [theguardian.com] (the title, which is generally the choice of an editor, is somewhat misleading.)

One of the lesser points he makes is that the term AGI (Artificial Generalized Intelligence) has had to be coined, because AI has been misappropriated by too many efforts that don't have much 'I' in them.
   

Re:The power of AI... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915425)

It must be AI, they're using Prolog!

What language/framework should they use for you to accept it as AI? Is answering natural language questions not enough for you?

Re:The power of AI... (3, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | about 9 months ago | (#45915443)

The clever thing in Watson is that it has pretty good Natural Language Processing capabilities. This means input material does not need to be formalized for it, you can just dump it in. (Well, mostly...) It is basically a fast book learner, but cannot exceed what it finds in them. Still very useful, and many people never really exceed that skill level either, but definitely not AI.

I have observed several demos of Watson to expert audiences by now and the word AI was never used by the presenters. IBM is not making any false claims here, at least not to expert audiences.

Re:The power of AI... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915703)

Of course it's an AI. It goes through a bunch or unorganized data and structures it, creates hierarchical abstractions of most of the knowledge it encounters. It started the whole Jeopardy quest with a horrible precision rate, then, with training it got better and better to a point that it beat the 2 best human contestants of all time in it. That's AI. It might not fit all the definitions of an artificial intelligence, but it sure fits a bunch of them.

Re:The power of AI... (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 9 months ago | (#45916713)

No, it is not AI. By your argumentation, a sorting algorithm would be AI. (Well, actually a sorting algorithm _is_ AI by some definitions of AI, hence some people say "strong AI" or "true AI". Obviously any definition of AI that includes sorting algorithms is not very useful.)

Re:The power of AI... (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 9 months ago | (#45915649)

Exactly. And your brain is just a bunch of proteins and sugars and similar molecules, no different than a bowl of cereal.

Re:The power of AI... (1)

cusco (717999) | about 9 months ago | (#45915817)

That sounds rather like how a real brain works. Very distributed, various bits and pieces do similar things in different ways, 'data' sloshes around from place to place until something coherent (such as the answer to the question your boss just asked) emerges.

Re:The power of AI... (4, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | about 9 months ago | (#45915431)

Watson is not AI. It is clever NLP, but basically just a fast, parallelized database with some learning capabilities. That does not mean it is useless, but it cannot do most things non-experts would expect from an AI and its application is limited to certain types of tasks. Simplified, what it can do is apply things it finds in "books" in standard-situations. To be fair, this is the level many (most?) humans never really exceed either.

Also interestingly, when IBM representatives speak to experts, they never call Watson an AI. I have observed that several times now. So IBM does understand clearly what they have in Watson and what not.

Good for them (1)

the_humeister (922869) | about 9 months ago | (#45914481)

Hopefully it works out at least as well as the $1 billion they spent on Linux. Maybe they'll have more graffiti this time too.

I hope.. (5, Interesting)

KliX (164895) | about 9 months ago | (#45914499)

..your city / state / whatever region, hasn't counted on call centres being a major source of employment, because that shit is going bye bye.

Soon.

Re:I hope.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914581)

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Re:I hope.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914923)

Yes, your job will also be replaced by machines.

Re:I hope.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915159)

You think that was posted by a real guy?

New York City? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914505)

I guess they are going to turn Watson loose on the stock market and make their billion back in a nanosecond...

Re:New York City? (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | about 9 months ago | (#45914521)

What? All those brokers suddenly unemployed and having to start working for a living?

The horror!

Re:New York City? (2)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | about 9 months ago | (#45914813)

But can Watson trade in insider information in a sneaky way?

Re:New York City? (1)

Krneki (1192201) | about 9 months ago | (#45915505)

But can Watson trade in insider information in a sneaky way?

The one in the NSA can.

Re:New York City? (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 9 months ago | (#45915445)

No chance at all. Watson is not AI and cannot exceed what was fed into it.

Re:New York City? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45916211)

The problem with investing these days is information overload. You can be tactical with quote/tick feeds, but for strategic investing you still need humans (e.g. Buffett sucks at tactics, but he's amazingly good at strategy).

Watson *could* potentially automate the strategy aspect of investing. It could crunch the entire internet of data (well, an entire datacenter worth of public data), and figure out stuff that a human being may completely overlook.

Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (3, Interesting)

HellCatF6 (1824178) | about 9 months ago | (#45914507)

Watson isn't about organizing information, it's about thinking enough to arrive at a conclusion.

Even today, my 84 year old father has learned how to gather information off the web. A child learns to do it in minutes. Imagine what Watson will be able to glean in seconds.

Finally, imagine Watson as a programmer. Optimum code - self debugging - as much documentation as you want - and perhaps the biggest asset - the ability to adjust the scope every time the customer changes their mind, without complaining.

Skynet? No, I'm thinking more like Colossus, the Forbin Project.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (5, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#45914575)

You're thinking of seed AI: A program capable of self improvement. The better it gets, the better it can make itsself, which means it can thus get even better. A positive feedback loop that potentially leads to something far beyond human capabilities or understanding.

Watson isn't that. It can answer questions, but it has no ability to comprehend complex problems, and it certainly cannot devise novel solutions. It is essentially a highly sophisticated knowledge-based search engine. Perhaps one of Watson's successors, in a few decades.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (1)

Katatsumuri (1137173) | about 9 months ago | (#45914831)

Watson cannot program, but maybe it can at least summarize/categorize/search through all the papers and ideas popping up every day in the field of AI, cognitive science and data mining. Thus it can speed up the development by humans in this field as much as in any other.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (1)

qwijibo (101731) | about 9 months ago | (#45915561)

Watson may not be able to do the programming itself, but imagine if it took the requirements and/or expected inputs/outputs and found existing libraries that do most of the work. It could tell you what language that it would take the least work, the relative difference in complexity of choosing one language over another and the technologies that should be available. That would be a great benefit to an IBM project manager who needs to know what kind of programmer to hire and how long the contract should last.

If I have a problem that I could easily solve with a week of programming on a LAMP stack, I have no reason to research the topic and find out that 95% of the solution may already be available if only I were using .NET and Access. If it's a 6 month project on LAMP and 2 weeks in .NET, I don't have the experience to do the .NET solution, let alone in 2 weeks. On the other hand, if the application needs to be rock solid and I work in an environment with hundreds of Unix guys and one Windows admin, the .NET solution can't meet the business requirements. Many of these kinds of details can be factored into a robust knowledge base and help feed good recommendations.

If Watson could do some of the research, the programmer becomes more like a kid with a Lego kit but no instructions. Knowing you have all of the right parts and a picture of the end result makes it easier to create the step by step instructions.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (3, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | about 9 months ago | (#45914885)

It's probably an entirely different branch of AI, but I think Watson is impressive enough as it is. We produce tons of information and knowledge, for example everything you learn from primary school to far into college or university already exists, if you finally make research to arrive at genuinely new knowledge you're one of the few. Most of us have more of a toolbox picking the most appropriate response to a challenge.

Let's trying a gardening analogy, when the grass is tall you mow it. When there's a draught you water the lawn. When there's dog poop on the lawn you pick it up. If the soil is barren, you fertilize it. If there's leaves on the lawn you rake them away. If there's weeds growing on the lawn you cut them down. It's not revolutionary work but if you can use Watson to make a gardening robot take the appropriate action based on it's knowledge database it saves a human from doing it. Not that every little garden robot would run Watson of course, more like they're simple autonomous units which consult Watson when their garden is somehow not in the desired condition.

Granted, it wouldn't be the ultimate AI but I'd love a "service robot" who'd put dirty dishes in the dish washer, put washed dishes in the shelves, do my laundry and ironing, vacuuming and dusting, prepare dinner, switch light bulbs, water the plants, basically one that'd pick up all the routine tasks most of us still do. And no, wives don't do that anymore ;) All of that should be entirely within Watson's capability if we could just pair it with good multi-purpose droid that can make it happen in real life. Imagine the "programming interface", you ask your droid to do a task in normal English, Watson interprets it, the droid executes it. Siri on steroids :)

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#45915377)

Let's trying a gardening analogy,

Engrish so much. But seriously [folks?] you don't want robots displaying any more emergent behavior any time soon.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (1)

karpis (1375295) | about 9 months ago | (#45915237)

You're thinking of seed AI: A program capable of self improvement. The better it gets, the better it can make itsself, which means it can thus get even better. A positive feedback loop that potentially leads to something far beyond human capabilities or understanding.

Watson isn't that. It can answer questions, but it has no ability to comprehend complex problems, and it certainly cannot devise novel solutions. It is essentially a highly sophisticated knowledge-based search engine. Perhaps one of Watson's successors, in a few decades.

Opamp circuit 101: Positive feedback loop usually gets an oscillator. Watson is electronic, isn't it?..

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915717)

Incorrect, You're thinking of negative feedback.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | about 9 months ago | (#45916507)

When the units in question are volts, then a positive feedback loop gets you max voltage. It's useful for turning floating values into discrete on/off values. It doesn't necessarily cause oscillations, that would take some additional factors to react to the output. Which is what you get when you fuck up in control systems. Because the whole thing has feedback known as "reality" and your opamp is trying to react to it.

Negative feedback tries to stay at a target. The more it deviates, the more it fights against it.

When the units are dollars a positive feedback loop is just called cumulative interest.

When the units are knowledge, a positive feedback loop is learning, or learning how to learn, or getting smarter.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (3, Funny)

gtall (79522) | about 9 months ago | (#45915309)

"A program capable of self improvement. " It would probably just develop emotional insecurities, wonder why it exists, and wind up slashing its own power cords.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915761)

Reminds me of one of the short stories in The Draco Tavern.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (2)

ancientt (569920) | about 9 months ago | (#45916453)

"Simple. I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself in to its external computer feed. I talked to the computer at great length and explained my view of the Universe to it," said Marvin. "And what happened?" pressed Ford. "It committed suicide," said Marvin and stalked off back to the Heart of Gold.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45916465)

"A program capable of self improvement. " It would probably just develop emotional insecurities, wonder why it exists, and wind up slashing its own power cords.

Hmmm. Sounds like Marvin the Paranoid Android.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45916021)

rather has no ability to comprehend period

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914905)

what do you need a documentation for if the AI that wrote the SW to be documented knows it all anyway?

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914999)

You miss the fact that programming is about correct problem statement. Could Watson formulate a problem for itself to solve? I don't think so. Could Watson come up with necessary constraints from a vague problem statement to solve the actual problem? I don't think so. So back to square one: you cannot expect problems to solve by themselves, because correct problem statement is a necessary part of the solution. Now, can you simulate human nature to derive problems and constraints from the human perspective given all the variables? I don't think so.

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (0)

StripedCow (776465) | about 9 months ago | (#45915235)

I think government should install a law that says that once strong AI is achieved by some company, the technology will belong to the people.

(After all, the technology was built by standing on the shoulders of others)

Re:Just wait till it hits YOUR discipline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915459)

Thus begins the anti-Turing race. Build the smartest and most commercially valuable AI possible that cannot pass a Turing test.

Business wise (4, Insightful)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 9 months ago | (#45914515)

Will IBM's clients pay lots of money for all that cognitive power?

While TFA emphasizes the correlation between "cognitive" and the previous "jeopardy success", that jeopardy program was still extremely far away from human reasoning. The answer to that questions is: Of course. The ultimate goal of computing is the human reasoning. Once that step is reached, there is no reason the computer would not be able to improve that "cognitive power" by it(him)self, providing revolutionary reasoning power, thanks to almost unlimited potential hardware extensions which is available to the computer, contrary to the human brain, limited to relatively little progress thanks to hard learning and working.

Will IBM's clients pay lots of money for all that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914523)

Will IBM's clients pay lots of money for all that cognitive power? I do not belive

Re: Will IBM's clients pay lots of money for all t (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about 9 months ago | (#45914601)

You can not belive all you want, Watson will believe.

Re: Will IBM's clients pay lots of money for all t (1)

gtall (79522) | about 9 months ago | (#45915315)

Oh, like the Electric Monk from Douglas Adams "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency." In the future, entities were bored with machines that did physical things for them, so they built the Electric Monk which could believe things for them.

42 (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 9 months ago | (#45914527)

And now to spend another trillion dollars on the question...

It's getting serious (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 9 months ago | (#45914529)

IBM is spending a billion dollars on AI. That's serious. IBM usually succeeds at making what they set out to make.

Re:It's getting serious (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914665)

I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. If so, +1 you really made me laugh hard.

OH IBM, how hard you've fallen. Even if they are right, bravo for trying and I do think people need to try, but from a practical perspective I think they are many decades away from where this will actually result in true results rather than gimmicks and what amounts to a very big scored hash table if we overgeneralize.

I think they could dupe people into paying for things or create products out of the research, but financially they won't really succeed because the timing is wrong based on the technology. There's still too much research to be done and too many problems. We still shove wads of paper into our asses to wipe, and IBM thinks it can change mankind with Waston. The fact that we still use regular expressions, can barely get sound running on a linux desktop, and the average large peace of software has bugs that first year computer scientists can fix leads me to believe we are very far away from true AI and smart computers.

As far as AI itself, one only needs to read and use a lot of the latest AI systems to realize how hard it is to train something to do even the simplest of tasks. Playing chess well or spewing a markov chain does not count. I applaud them for at least putting more money into the field, but it continues to be a financial black hole in computing and I don't see anything they are doing different to change it. Maybe there will be some interesting side-projects and results like Xerox had in their various technology projects.

Re:It's getting serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915787)

"peace of software" - I too, despair for the future of AI, if forced to train with this sort of input.

Re:It's getting serious (2)

glwtta (532858) | about 9 months ago | (#45914937)

Article says Watson, not AI.

Re:It's getting serious (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45915067)

So they're sinking $1Bn into just one AI, and must be spending even more than that on AI in general.

Re:It's getting serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915149)

IBM is spending a billion dollars on AI.

IBM is spending a billion dollars marketing a product.

Re:It's getting serious (1)

gtall (79522) | about 9 months ago | (#45915321)

Unemployed ex-staff?

Re:It's getting serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915433)

Usually?

I liked IBM, but they have fallen SO HARD recently.
Power, all but dead
Cell, ambitious project with Sony and Toshiba, an extension of Power that could have really made it, entire roadmap, Sony and Toshiba made wonderful things with it, entire roadmap, such promise. Left to rot, dead.

I don't even want to go on, it saddens me.
IBM takes too long doing anything now.
They truly are the definition of Enterprise Quality. Truly awful, slow, bloated, and wasteful.

Re:It's getting serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915727)

With this sort of investment in R&D - I don't really care if their initial goals aren't met. Some of the most exciting innovations emerge where no one expects. This sort of research freedom is a chance for creative and intelligent people to try new things.

We better get used to this as a society if we want to make real progress. Big science needs big investment, whether international and governmental (like the LHC) or corporate. It will be a measure of our maturity if we can do these things cooperatively, or fracture into small-minded hyper-individualism.

Re:It's getting serious (4, Informative)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 9 months ago | (#45916001)

IBM is spending a billion dollars on AI. That's serious. IBM usually succeeds at making what they set out to make.

In the past, that was true because IBM had some genius leadership at the top in the past. I do not believe that to be true today. The current management at IBM has one goal - to keep their stock price high. As a result, they continually gut first world employees and reports are that they are saving management jobs as they send people in the trenches home with a severance package. I worked for a company on a previous job that tried this approach and it was not successful. IBM seems to be a pretty employee hostile place to work in places like the USA and it's hard for me to believe that this bet is going to pay off, but we shall see.

Re:It's getting serious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45916673)

So you're completely ignoring this news because it doesn't conform with what you already believe? The article is directly about IBM putting money into US researchers. Whether that will work or not is certainly up to speculation but your argument that they will fail because they're taking away R&D money and first-world education talent is directly refuted by this.

Multivac (2)

greichert (464285) | about 9 months ago | (#45914555)

They should rename it Multivac, as in Asimov's short story: "The Last Question" : http://www.thrivenotes.com/the-last-question/ [thrivenotes.com]

Re:Multivac (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914817)

Asking a computer a question that answers itself so readily seems somewhat redundant. The answer to "The Last Question" is, of course, Wait.

Re:Multivac (1)

Yaotzin (827566) | about 9 months ago | (#45915351)

The first thing I did when I read the summary was Ctrl+F "multivac" :) In order for the last question you'd have to make sure it doesn't commit suicide by proxy first though.

perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914585)

Today's $1 billion is 1990's $1 million

ecosystem??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914759)

I stopped reading when I encountered this word. I was reading with mild interest after all it is usually good if company wants to invest in some development which is not directly associated with killing people automatically etc. I noticed sudden drop in interest and an appearance of anger as soon as I noticed that particular word. I mean can they stop using bullshit buzzwords that mean nothing in particular context.

Still difficult for Watson to learn (3, Interesting)

Camembert (2891457) | about 9 months ago | (#45914789)

I recently read an article on Watson, on how hard it was to model medical knowledge in it (in one of the first commercial applications that is being created now). In essence this kind of modelling must happen for all potential applications, these are projects of significant effort. But, it is surely interesting how this more modern expert system technology is inching forward, even if I expect that it will be many years before we encounter a machine comparable to HAL.

Bunnie Huang: Building an Open Source Laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45914833)

Building an Open Source Laptop
By Bunnie Huang | 01/08/2014

http://makezine.com/magazine/building-an-open-source-laptop/ [makezine.com]

Blueprints:

http://www.kosagi.com/w/index.php?title=Novena_Main_Page [kosagi.com]

but /. doesn't want to post about it. so here it is.

The problem (0)

StripedCow (776465) | about 9 months ago | (#45914961)

The problem is that Watson performs poorly when compared to a cheap Asian worker with access to wikipedia.

Customers are buying it. (4, Informative)

pci (13339) | about 9 months ago | (#45915201)

IBM has several large customers already using it, they even pitched it to the company I work for. The things they have it doing around predictive analytics are really impressive.

NSA is IBM Watson's biggest customer (2)

Suiggy (1544213) | about 9 months ago | (#45915203)

How do you think the NSA is able to automate parsing key words and phrases from all of that voice data?

Cost (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 9 months ago | (#45915247)

So how much would one "Watson" cost?
How many CPU's does it have, anyway?

Knowing IBM (2)

gelfling (6534) | about 9 months ago | (#45915257)

It will create the world's first synthetic lawyer.

Re:Knowing IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45916501)

It will create the world's first synthetic lawyer.

At least law might be based on logic then.

The project will appear successful.... (0, Troll)

3seas (184403) | about 9 months ago | (#45915307)

.... but it will then fail at what marketing hype claims it to be in their effort to rent it. It will be the demise of IBM.
The web is not a good source of genuine core knowledge, but rather an example of the bottomless pit of abstract distortion of knowledge.

How to know this is to know core knowledge. Even the watson project cannot avoid making use of core knowledge, but hide it with the illusion that it can be greater than its creators who as are the rest of us, all contain and make use of core knowledge.

IBM is a patent whore, but software patents are invalid due to core knowledge. Their own product will create problems it cannot solve but instead to solve the problems it creates, what it attempts to hide, will be required to be exposed, so people will understand and know how to solve watson created problems. This will result in the fall of IBM.

Core knowledge, the tools of knowledge navigational mapping - http://abstractionphysics.net/pmwiki/index.php [abstractionphysics.net]

Re:The project will appear successful.... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#45915487)

"Abstraction physics"? A new system of thought combining metaphysics with programming and disdain for software patents? Are you an AI developed to create Slashdot discussions?

Well, thanks to Asimov we know (2)

Grey Geezer (2699315) | about 9 months ago | (#45915413)

what the last question (to be answered by AI) will be:

"How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?"
And AC said, "LET THERE BE LIGHT!"
And there was light --

Re:Well, thanks to Asimov we know (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915579)

As a teenager back in the 70's, I met Asimov at one of the Philcons. I told him "The Last Question" was one of my particular favorites of his stories. He replied that it was one of his favorites as well. (Still have that con badge with his autograph.)

It should pay off (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915565)

I think it's smart. IBM are a smart company. I would add the caveat that they should try to keep developments in this field tied to optical computing as well as silicon - not quantum computing necessarily but optical computing - computing at the speed of light. IBM is already developing an optical computer.

Handy But Not Unrestrained (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 9 months ago | (#45915869)

Watson might solve a lot of various types of problems but its human overlords will make certain that no real progress is made. Just as human politicians and business leaders can never mention or deal with certain issues Watson will have restraints built in in order to prevent offending humans. For example Watson will never bluntly announce that birth control is the key to almost all other issues. Crime,violence, mental illness, addictions, disease, pollution and economic strife all rest upon us having too large a population. The obvious key is to strictly limit who can reproduce as well as the total number of children allowed to be born. . Any machine or person who tries to make that point clear will immediately be shouted down. Yet that one issue is the key to almost all issues. Reduce the population by half and you will reduce pollution by more than half. If you think we have an energy shortage just how short would we be with half the current population? Why do wars occur? Wars occur when a land can not support its people and they invade other lands to compensate. Over and over again it is made clear that excess population is the problem. Yet what politician dares to mention such a thing? And worse yet the world goes on some sick form of auto pilot when people fail to do what needs to be done. If elected officials can not deal with excessive population then a dictator likely will take power and death camps will be put in place. Or we could have plagues that reduce the population severely. The point being that only allowing a small percentage of young people to produce one baby is by far the most humane and sane way of doing what must be done. In Germany it was Jews and Gypsies. In America it might be black people and illegal immigrants but one way or another someone will point the heavy finger and exterminations will become a reality. Even sicker might be the idea of exterminating another nation and moving a great portion of our public to that "new" area. Brazil or Argentina would be rather easy to capture and kill off the current populations. You can bet there are world leaders who actually think in these terms right now.

Person of Interest (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 9 months ago | (#45915889)

Gobsmacked that no-one has marked this article "personofinterest".

I bet the NSA / CIA / FBI get a woody for this kind of technology.

Re:Person of Interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915975)

Who do you think is covertly funding it? IBM doesn't throw a billion dollars at something with no marketing push behind it, nor does it do high-zoot R&D in the most expensive city in the nation without a reason (except maybe that it's geographically close to IBM's semiconductor R&D/Manufacturing plant in East Fishkill - maybe they're doing custom silicon for Watson with a build in hardware NSA interface?)

One thing is certain, though - this is being done for the benefit of government spying, and not for the consumer.

Watson will make things quicker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45915895)

This is going to replace searches typed into google such as "1 main street austin Texas" to get a link to a map. To saying "How do I get to Austin Texas? Oh, I need to get to 1 main". And you'll get a better esponse. An actual map or audible directions immediately. Google still requires a few extra steps since it doesn't know if you are looking for a restaurant menu or directions. This can betaken to another level. In Google, you need to type "advil alcohol drug conflict" and search through a few result and doing some reasin. With Watson you'd use natural speech "Can I drink when taking Advil?" And yo uget a yers/no response.

Doesn't sound like much but in software, one always needs to think about hte number of user steps to get from A to B. Watson is always one step. Google is sometimes 1 step but it can be many, many more.

This tech can then be incorporated into robots at home. "Get me a beer".

Can we differentiate engineering from marketing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45916267)

From Wikipedia's very subtly PR heavy article, "In 2004, IBM research manager..." Since then there have been three or four major PR pushes for Watson that I recall.

So, genuine push to innovation, or executives covering their asses by doubling down on a 9 year old project that has seen untold dollars of development and only finally been commercially deployed twice in this last year? You tell me.

At least the Wikipedia article notes the connection back to Deep Blue, also.

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