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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Elementary, My Dear Watson

The impressive demonstration of IBM’s Watson supercomputer competing against human players on Jeopardy is certain to stir a lively debate about the implications of this technology. Is Watson a breakthrough or a clever set of programming tricks that have inherent limitations? Will technology like Watson replace humans? And who will be liable if a human makes a bad decision based on technology like Watson? Even within the computer science and artificial intelligence (AI) community, Watson’s performance will provoke disagreements about its significance and its practical applications. However, such questions and issues often arise with the creation of new technologies, whether we are talking about healthcare, communication, transportation, energy, or other innovations that impact our daily lives. Such concerns rarely stop adoption. It seems clear that Watson is not a substitute or replacement for human reasoning or actions, anymore than our desktop computers or smartphones, but like them simply a tool….

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