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Old Feb 18, 2011, 4:51am   #1
darryl
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Default Watson on Jeopardy

For those who haven't heard and don't want to know the outcome of IBM's computer Watson playing Jeopardy against Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, don't read below. Ozone wrote a bit about it on his blog before the match took place.



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So, yeah, Watson won, and I guess it's impressive and all that a computer can interpret English and figure out how to answer some trivia questions. But I mean really, the computer is programmed specifically for that. If you wanted it to help you pick up chicks, or clean the house you are out of luck, it can only do that one thing. I guess it's the same thing as Deep Blue winning at chess. That's all it can do.
I'm not really sure what my point is, other than some talented programmers are able to program something that can beat a human at a particular task.

I guess I would be more impressed if Watson was the size of a human, actually read and/or heard the questions rather than having them fed into it, and used roughly the same amount of energy as a human. Not that I'm not impressed. It was funny though when Ken Jennings got a question wrong and Watson buzzed in and guessed the same wrong answer. Not too impressive that it wasn't programed to not do that.

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Old Feb 18, 2011, 12:35pm   #2
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I haven't read exactly how Watson worked but the list of his top three choices was interesting. In many cases where the correct question needed to be of some particular form his first choice would be correct but his second wouldn't even be structured correctly. An example was an answer about a style of art where the correct question was "What is modern art?" His three choices were Picasso, painting, and modern art. So he has a persons name, an object, and a stlye. Thus, it doesn't seem he is doing any actual interpretation of the kind of answer he's looking for as opposed to just performing a search and sorting the most common words that pop up. It didn't appear he would do much better than putting Alex's question into google and finding the most common word returned (that would be an interesting comparison in a world where I had infinite time).

It's a neat step and I think this type of "challenge" is a good idea for getting people interested, but they certainly still have a long way to go before this is doing the myriad things that were mentioned in the program.
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Old Feb 18, 2011, 5:46pm   #3
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*buzz* what is a poorly executed publicity stunt?

jeopardy questions follow a basic formula, all you need is half a page of script that pulls the operative words out and searches for them. what can this 2880 x 3.55GHz processor behemoth with its 15 Tb of RAM do that is any more impressive than the 10 Mb cryptic crossword solver i had 10 years ago?

not to mention the elephant in the room, which is reaction time. the machine can press the buzzer far faster than a human can. the humans should get crushed, they weren't participating in a contest, they were participating in an advert for ibm.

would it be terribly gauche of me to bang on about ibm's history of bullshit in this regard? i don't care, i'm going to anyway. deep blue.

firstly, we are long past the time of anal fissures regarding computers beating humans. in 2006, deep fritz (which will cost you less than $100 for the most recent version) absolutely crushed the world champion. it's actually got to the point where the rybka team are having to give odds to strong grandmasters just to get competitive games.

however, the deep blue - kasparov game was farcical. lets start with the uneven playing field that seems to come with ibm stunts. deep blue had access to every game of chess ever played, including, of course, every game kasparov had ever played. kasparov had to go into the game blind with no information about deep blue. it's also worth noting that ibm were allowed to adjust deep blue between games, so kasparov could in fact find himself playing up to 6 unknown opponents over the course of the match.

on to the match itself. in game 1, deep blue got crunched. it played like everyone expected it to, like a machine. actually it played worse than everyone expected, like a bad machine. at the press conference ibm say they have some tinkering they need to do, which is fine, they were allowed to adjust the machine between games. so game 2 rolls around and suddenly it is anatoly karpov.

ibm have been developing deep blue for several years and apparently got nowhere. then basically overnight with a few flipped switches and some new vacuum tubes, their machine goes from being fodder to being world champion strength. not merely strong, but apparently exhibiting actual understanding beyond the limitations of its brute force approach to the game. here joel benjamin offers some nonexplanation about how he spent months teaching the computer to play closed positions which in no way addresses why deep blue was able to find the winning move (36.axb5) that the aforementioned rybka which gives grandmasters odds and still beats them evaluates as second best after god knows how long crunching to a depth of 26 ply. a human would recognise the danger in playing the computers' preferred move (36.Qb6), a computer has to actually crunch through the moves and even then may not be able to see far enough in the time to realise what is coming. computers cannot play like people, only people can play like people. so one of two things happened in this game, either (i) the machine somehow blundered into the winning move or (ii) human intervention.

this was basically the end of the match. i don't think there was a single chess player anywhere in the world who was strong enough to realise what had happened that didn't think that something very fishy was going on. kasparov called shenanigans and asked to see the logs that would prove deep blue had legitimately found this move. ibm refused, then agreed, then refused again in a spectacular display of gamesmanship not seen since the days of fischer-spassky in 1972. they were, quite unapologetically, fucking with his head, trying to convince him that they were cheating, to get him off his game. they were not trying to beat kasparov over the board, but away from it. and it worked, believing he was being cheated, kasparov's mind was obviously elsewhere, his concentration was wrecked. games 3-5 were uneventful draws, and in game 6 he made a ridiculous blunder that no grandmaster would ever make in a blindfold game.

ibm promised to release the logs "soon", where soon was eventually defined as "in about 3 years time, as quietly as possible so that nobody actually discovers them for years". kasparov asked for a rematch, even offering to put his world championship on the line, but ibm declined, choosing instead to dismantle deep blue and never speak of it again.

so we are left with a series of questions which still haven't been adequately answered, or even addressed in some cases:

1. why was deep blue dismantled? beating the strongest chess player of all time was an enormous milestone, why did ibm immediately destroy the most famous computer ever built?

2. why werent the logs released immediately? particularly if ibm had no interest in further pursuing chess, there would be no reason to not publish them from, for instance, a trade secrets point of view. quite the opposite, publishing the logs would legitimise their victory.

3. why no rematch? if deep blue really was as strong as they claim in 1997, it would be significantly stronger in 1998 with another year of software development and increased processing power. how could another match not be good for ibm?

4. why has deep blue's ability not been emulated? my information is a little out of date and i see no reason to have to google my way through hundreds of badly written websites to see if the newest versions of rybka and DF play the correct moves in game 2, but as recently as 3 or 4 years ago they still got it wrong, by which time they were already significantly stronger than deep blue. if deep blue really was playing the game "differently", then we again ask, why has this new way of thinking about computer chess not been replicated?

so in conclusion, ibm are full of shit and i am so unimpressed by their latest gobshite stunt that i would rather talk about something that happened 14 years ago.

Kc
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Old Feb 18, 2011, 7:52pm   #4
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Do you happen to know where computer Go is these days? The last computer go program I played was probably 20 years ago but it was really bad. It didn't seem like the game would lend itself well to brute force analysis but I don't know if it has received much attention.
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Old Feb 18, 2011, 8:11pm   #5
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I was going to spend some time writing my thoughts on the show...

Quote:
Originally Posted by killcrazy View Post
not to mention the elephant in the room, which is reaction time. the machine can press the buzzer far faster than a human can. the humans should get crushed, they weren't participating in a contest, they were participating in an advert for ibm.
... but kc already did. Jeopardy threw the image of their two greatest contestants under the bus to run an ad for IBM. Ken seemed frustrated throughout the show and I don't blame him, he had every right to be.
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Old Feb 20, 2011, 10:00pm   #6
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i don't really agree it was a IBM advert, but yeah, reaction time was the determining factor.

But as i have seen in yahoo comments, there is always some stupid asshole who says "oh yeah? computer smarted than me? i'll break out meh shotgun!" I rather have a computer system that is good at trivia than morons who think like that.

A computer that can help you pick up chicks would be the greatest invention in the history of man.
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Old Feb 21, 2011, 12:18am   #7
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i don't really agree it was a IBM advert
compelling argument.

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Old Feb 27, 2011, 8:18am   #8
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compelling argument.
yes, it isn't the internet without an argument. Play you HU 4 rollz?
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Old Feb 27, 2011, 3:18pm   #9
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yes, it isn't the internet without an argument. Play you HU 4 rollz?
while it's true that everyone is entitled to an opinion, not everyone is entitled to an opinion that matters.

if you can scrounge a stake off the fish who can't do basic math we can play again.

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Old Feb 27, 2011, 5:14pm   #10
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A computer that can help you pick up chicks would be the greatest invention in the history of man.
no
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