IBM’s term for Watson is Cognitive Technology — think of what that terminology implies. Cognition refers to the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning. Perception, learning, reasoning, this is a really big deal if we are talking about machines actually doing this. This is a game changer.
Speaking of changing the game, check out this video of Watson defeating two of Jeopardy’s greatest champions:
Note that about 2 minutes and 43 seconds in Ken Jennings writes under his response to Final Jeopardy, ” I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords.”
There is something important going on here. IBM spent millions to develop “Deep Blue,” a computer able to defeat chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. Today, a variety of chess playing apps are free to download. How long will it take before a cognitive technology like Watson, which is already able to defeat the best Jeopardy champions, is open-source and free, and thereby radically improved upon? I have already purchased a child’s toy dinosaur which links to Watson’s mind to create a toy which grows with the child. Watson is also coming out with a “cognitive cookbook” of original flavor combinations, as well as aiding doctors in medical diagnoses. Where will this technology be twenty years from now?
There are philosophical objections to the idea of “strong” AI, a machine which exhibits human-level cognition. Perhaps if we allowed a machine like Watson to partner with AI researchers to suggest new solutions, progress would be even faster. Most likely, someone already is.
Here is a link to IBM’s website to learn more.