Feb 16, 2011

Nerds on TV -- the right way -- IBM Watson and Jeopardy

As a computer scientist, trained in artificial intelligence myself, I am delighted to see the development of the IBM Watson parallel computer competing on evening TV Jeopardy! episodes. See this Google search for the plethora of results on the Jeopardy shows.

Heck, as a parent, I love it that my kids are running to me with how awesome the smart computer is doing on their favorite quiz show!

See this great PBS News Hour video to find out more about Watson, Jeopardy,and the artificial intelligence background.

When are computers really "intelligent?" People have been pondering this for at least 100 years. Alan Turing developed a "Turing test" of the computer responding to a person's questions and having the answers be undecipherable from that of another human being. Then in the 1980's came the chess playing machines. First with algorithms, then with brute force statistics, and finally Deep Blue beating grand master chess champions by the turn of the century.

But now having smart computers compete on glitzy evening game shows and educating the world about parallel intelligence of computers? Love it.

See a great write-up by James Taylor on the Smart Data Collective community as to what the IBM Watson episodes mean to Decision Management and Analytics. In essence, computers can now make decisions on the fly leveraging large databases, and continually get smarter in our results.
This is after all what people do in decision making.

Think about that the next time you are creating your marketing and sales analytics systems. Rapid feedback loops, shorter decision cycles,and continual optimization.