Ken Jennings Talks About Losing To Watson

Friday, March 8, 2013

Technological Obsolescence
Quiz show wizard-turned-author Ken Jennings recently spoke about his experience of being replaced by artificical intelligence.  Two years ago, IBM's Watson handily beat Jennings and fellow human competitor Brad Rutter on the television game show Jeopardy!
Ken Jennings was an anonymous computer programmer in 2004 when his 75-game streak on the quiz show Jeopardy! Made him into a geek folk icon almost overnight.

The author of the new book, Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids, spoke about his experiences with technological obsolescence at the TEDxSeattle event recently 

Then two years ago, Jennings and another Jeopardy champion, Brad Rutter played the game against IBM supercomputer Watson.

Watson trounced the competition, amassing US$77,147 in winnings over the two Jeopardy champions. Rutter scored $21,600 and Jennings scored $24,000 in the three day tournament.

Watson on Jeopardy!

Watson is capable of processing 80 trillion operations (teraflops) per second. It runs about 2,800 processor cores and has 16 terabytes of working memory.

On the software side, the machine uses the Apache Hadoop distributed file system and the Apache UIMA (Unstructured Information Management Architecture), a framework for analyzing unstructured data. For Jeopardy though, the most useful software element, is the natural language processing program called DeepQA that IBM claims can understand a human sentence.

This program is what differentiates Watson from a typical search engine, which can just return a list of results to a set of keywords.

Although systems like Watson may transform how organizations think, act, and operate in the future by learning through interactions, and delivering evidence based responses driving better outcomes, Jennings warns against people forgetting how to store and use knowledge on our own.

"I don't want to live in a world where knowledge is obsolete," says Jennings.


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