George Dvorsky reacts to Watson’s mistaken belief that Toronto is in the United States of America:
This kind of freaks me out a little. When asking computers questions that we don’t know the answers to, we aren’t going to know beyond a shadow of a doubt when a system like Watson is right or wrong. Because we don’t know the answer ourselves, and because we don’t necessarily know how the computer got the answer, we are going to have to take a tremendous leap of faith that it got it right when the answer seems even remotely plausible.
Salon‘s Mary Elizabeth Williams puts things in context:
Despite the freak factor of having a less-charismatic-than-usual “Jeopardy” contestant answer questions in the form of questions in a flat, ominous monotone, the real competition here is already all but over. Whether or not Watson vanquishes his two flesh and blood opponents over the next two nights, IBM is going to keep making supercomputers, and they are going to keep getting smarter. That’s not a loss for the human spirit, imagination or heart. It’s just a fact. Watson still can’t offer much in the way of charisma or empathy. He can’t get drunk down the shore with Snooki, and he likely won’t be delivering any impassioned, eviscerating tirades on “The Daily Show” any time soon. He’s just a really smart box, one who even gets puns. He may be a “Jeopardy” champ, and he may even eventually make our jobs irrelevant. But why we watch, why we care, isn’t about trivia questions. It’s about whether he’ll eventually be like us, with all our dopey jokes and mistakes and pains. He may be smart and even mildly socially skilled, but he still can’t feel existential angst like something with a cortex.
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