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I am talking about the Jeopardy Watson. And everything seems elementary for this Watson. Have you seen this IBM computer rocking in Jeopardy? You have one more to day to catch this man vs machine clash. It is fascinating to watch the computer run through the gigabytes of information that it has and to come up with the correct answer in a matter of seconds – it is an incredible demonstration of how systems like the Google search engine work.


Image courtesy of Studio360

One of the engineers who worked on the machine said that the key in creating Watson was programming it to filter information from the noise. Those algorithms that help it identify the most relevant words that answer a questions. An answer panel that appeals on the screen indicates how Watson is ‘thinking’ because there are 3 best matches with indications of how high the match percentage is according to Watson’s processing.

The answers that Watson gets wrong are as fascinating as the ones it gets right. Today when there was a question about an art period, Watson said ‘Picasso’ – a person and not a period. The wording of the question confused Watson. The machine works off of words and statistics and does not always seem to process nuances of meaning. This is a big part of how machines think. All those working with SEO and SMO need to understand that so far there is no algorithm that bridges this gap between information filters, such as search engines, and the way human beings process information. While the machine does beat us on quickness of information processing, we still have it beat on layered thinking!

Let me just say for the record that my title is a misquote and not from anything Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote – and so no quotation marks.