Watson? Intelligent?! Yeah… right!

Hi Everyone, I have been reading through a few articles about the Watson supercomputer, and how it beat the human competitors at Jeopardy. It really is a great feat of engineering and computer science. But, as I was reading through the various articles, at the back of my mind, I was thinking… “Why is everyone going on about how intelligent this computer is?”. For me, Watson represents a breakthrough in hardware design, computational algorithms, parallel computing, and speed. I was really impressed with it’s ability to process natural language, and interpret speech data correlating it to data that it has stored in its database. However, despite how impressed I was, I still think that computers have a long way to go before we can truly consider them to be intelligent. My critique of supercomputers like Watson, in terms of whether they should be considered as being ‘intelligent’, is based on the following observations:
  1. Compared to humans, the data that supercomputers have access to was all given to them. It was not learned by them through any form of sensory input. The data that they have was provided to them probably through searching and indexing terabytes of factual data, and storing it in a fault-tolerant database system. To me, that is like competing against a textbook. The human mind is multi-dimensional, from the point of view that all the data and information we learn and store in out minds/brains was as a result of taking in every sound, every visual image, and making sense out of it, and then remembering that association in the brain. To me, that is not the same as searching through a database of organized information that was basically sorted and given to you, and specifically designed to work in a game called Jeopardy. I mean, any human that will ever go against a supercomputer like Watson was processing every visual, auditory, and tactile input at the same time as trying to understand, process, and answer a question in Jeopardy. The processing power of our brains are always divided. The brain is processing bodily functions (like controlling hormones) and input (like deciding to scratch an itch in your sleeve, or wishing the air conditioning wasn’t so cold in the Jeopardy studio). The human mind may be wondering any moment whether the stove was left on, or if your wife is watching you on TV, or something, and still focuses on answering Jeopardy questions. Supercomputers have no idle thought, and no processing of physical functions. All they do is process that data they are designed to process. For me, the day that I admit to a supercomputer being intelligent is the day that the supercomputer can learn and process data the same way I can, which involves visual and audible input of your surroundings.
  2. Secondly, what I find intelligent are the people who write and develop the custom algorithms that process the speech input and the data that Watson has stored. Did Watson create or develop any of those algorithms for itself? Did it figure out how to learn a language? Or what words mean in different language constructs by itself, or intuitively? Someone, or rather teams of persons, had to figure out how to write the instructions to make Watson do it. So, in actual fact, the intelligent ones are the people who created all these algorithms, and figured out how to get it all to work together. Watson is the culmination of all of their intelligence. Personally, I think that it doesn’t do them justice to call the supercomputer intelligent and not recognize the intelligence of these individuals. I mean, from the time we are born, it takes us years before we fully understand the complexes and nuances of a language, and no one puts instructions into us as to how to do it. We, starting from nothing but being able to take in audible data, learn to understand language and the meaning of the sounds we hear. As of yet, I don’t know of any supercomputer that can do that. For me, I was more interested in who were the people who made Watson possible. They are pretty darn awesome!
For me, in general, until a computer does more that process instructions that were coded into it, I will never feel comfortable with the idea of comparing them to humans, and concluding that they are intelligent. I would really be interested on what others thought of computer intelligence.

The truth or a kiss? Who is your friend?

Hi Everyone, I just wanted to share this thought from the scriptures that I was meditating on recently. It is the verse, Proverbs 27:6
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (NLT) Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (KJV)
I personally prefer the wording of the King James Version (KJV). Anyways, the thought expressed in this verse is so critical to our development as responsible adults. I find that may young people today have a very hard time facing the truth about themselves and/or their situations. They run from the truth, because Read More

I love jQuery!!!

Hi everyone!

I just wanted to share my experience with jQuery, and also give you a little sneak peek into the new Joomla extensions that I am working on. I am working on a new extension, and I hope to have it out by the end of the month. Well, anyways, as you know, Joomla 1.5 supports Mootools 1.1 out-of-the-box, and I tried to implement the Fx.Slide feature. To my dismay, it didn’t work. It just made the layer invisible and then visible again, and on top of that it had some quirks when the layers are cascaded within each other. I did a little research about it, but then I didn’t find much. However, I think maybe I need to download some kind of Mootools plugin, Mootools More, I think, to get it to work. When I tried to look for that download at the Mootools website, I couldn’t find it. I just got fed up. Then, I went to check out jQuery! Read More

To blog? or not to blog?

Hi everyone,

I haven’t been really blogging in a while. I think I have been caught between two opinions as of late.There has been a lot on my mind, especially when it comes to politics, and social science. However, I digress… mainly because I don’t want to share everything that is in my mind to share. I have been thinking about the idea of privacy, and the right to privacy, and how that impacts the web. One of the issues on my mind is that whatever I blog on will be available as public knowledge, and may be used in the future to judge who I am, especially since there is a growing trend to jump to conclusions based on non-contextual rhetoric, and twisting the semantics of an individuals statements. Anyways, I am sure I will find some sort of common ground soon, so that I can blog happily and freely again. Read More

I like CodeIgniter!

Well, it is 11pm, and I really MUST go to sleep in a few minutes. However, I want to share my recent interests with everyone. I really like CodeIgniter! It’s a PHP Framework. And for those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a system of reusable, often object-oriented, PHP components that provide a streamlined way to rapidly develop PHP web applications without the developer having to ‘re-invent the wheel’ and write all the code from scratch. It is just plain awesome! Read More

To blog or not to blog… hmm…

Another month has passed, and I am yet to put a decent post. Man, I feel partly ashamed. But, the truth is that sometimes, I think of things I want to blog, and I question whether I should blog about it or not. For example, many things have come into my mind about politics, and religion, and I want to put in my two cents, but I end up holding it all back. I think that it reveals a little too much, but at the same time, I do want to blog my thoughts. Anyways… I’m still pondering how I should express my thoughts. However, apart from my indecision when it comes to blogging for the past month, I have been pretty busy on some projects on my MacBook Pro. I have been learning Objective-C and writing quite a bit of code. I really has been a lot of fun. Most of my evenings for the past month has been spent doing that.

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Just some random thoughts

This is my first post for June 2010. I can’t believe it. I am really not accustomed to having a blog. A lot of this happened this month. However, I won’t write on everything. There are quite a number of ideas floating around in my head, and also quite a number of topics that I have been thinking about. My primary thought recently has been on political systems and how susceptible ‘Joe/Jane Public’ is to the words and ideas expressed by politicians. For me, I have never been trusting of the words of politicians. I have lived long enough to realize that someone can tell you anything, and make it seem convincing. Someone can take little bits of truth from different domains and from different aspects of a situation, mix it with their own thoughts and agenda and get you to believe what they need for you to believe. Oftentimes, politicians will use some form of anecdotal evidence to express their viewpoint, so that it relates to the personal beliefs or personal concerns of a populace. As a result, people tend to believe what is being said, because it relates to their situation. This response by the majority of persons in the listening public is referred to as subjective validation. Read More

Don’t look back!

My wife was sharing a scripture with me that has been on her mind for the last couple of days. So, I was thinking about it, and I want to share my thoughts on the scripture verse that she share with me. She shared the following verse  with me:
32 Remember Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:32 KJV)
It made me go back to the actual verses in Genesis. The story of Lot and his situation is covered in Genesis 11-14 & 19. However, I only want to focus on the scene where they were told to leave Sodom, and head for the hills! Read More

Back to work tomorrow!

Good Night everyone… well, it’s night in Antigua, where I am living at the moment. I should be going back to work tomorrow. As to why I wasn’t at work today, well… today is Easter Monday, and in Antigua, Good Friday (last week Friday) and Easter Monday are both public holidays. The only addition to that was that I was sick all last week. I got a sick leave from the doctor that permitted me to be away from work. It has been pretty rough, being sick since last week. I only started to feel better by about Friday or so. Although, on Friday, I still had some nasal congestion, and a slight sore throat.

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