Friday, February 18, 2011

Watson, what were you thinking?

I am appalled at your answer in the final Jeopardy on Tuesday evening. You needed to name a US city that had two airports. I know you could produce such a list in nanosecond. You needed to further narrow it down by a war hero. You might have needed few extra microseconds, but that wasn't difficult. But you screwed up. You know and I know that there are only handful of US cities with two airports.

For God's sake, you were being ably supported by an army of 90 IBM Power750 series servers running AIX operating system. Each Power750 server had four Power7 processor chips, each with eight cores. That comes to 2,880 Power7 cores. It is equivalent to 2,880 powerful computer running in parallel. Each core was running at a speed of 3.5 Ghz. You had 16 Terabytes of memory. IBM had spent millions and millions on the design of your brain known as DeepQA software. It was a sheer exhibition of astounding computing power in front of the whole world. You should have aced this question. How could you screw this up?

Had Toronto been a city within any other part of the world than our neighbor Canada, our country would have been accused of violating geographic border of a sovereign nation. CIA might have been accused of conspiring and instigating a revolt in Toronto, Ontario. President Obama would have received a phone call from a foreign leader asking for a formal apology on your behalf. It could have started a war of words among politicians and foreign officials. What were you thinking? Toronto a US city?

Someone feared that your gaffe was a result of a hack attempt against our intellectual icon. Someone feared that hackers from Russia or China were just having fun. But not a chance. Your algorithms have been guarded dearly by IBM. We can't blame it on hacking. Admit it, it was a giant mistake.

I am afraid you will be a butt of joke for years to come like Dan Quale once was for his infamous gaffe. I don't think you are capable of comprehending sarcasm, but I can't resist the temptation of misspelling Dan's last name. Jay Leno, David Letterman and other stand-up comedians are going to have field days for years to come. SNL would have skits just based on your giant mistake. Even Alex Trebek couldn't resist mentioning your gaffe in his opening remarks on Wednesday. You have inspired thousands of bloggers, like me, to pen about your achievements and your mistakes.

You have inspired and given birth to a new expression "I am just a silicon!" This expression sounds very similar to "I am only human! Correct? We use this expression quite often. You better start using "I am just a silicon!" to condone and rationalize your mistakes. Like we are error-prone and susceptible to mistakes, you are equally error-prone and susceptible to the blunders. You are bound to commit blunders, but don't be ashamed because "You are just a silicon!" We are even.

Your stumble is of enormous proportion with potential to cause irreparable damage to the reputation of your descendants, but I think you will be OK. You know that humans  have bad memory, very bad memory. Our brain occupies very small area. It doesn't need a building like your brain does. You had 16 Terabytes of memory in our brain. We don't even know how much memory we have in our brain and we suffer from disease like amnesia. We forget things very easily. We hear tons of promises from political leaders every day, but we simply forget them the very next day. We are hoping you would help expose those leaders who don't deliver on those lofty and rosy promises. At least, this is your punishment for your gaffe on the national stage - remind us of broken promises.

I don't know why IBM didn't conceive you like a human. You don't have a face and a body. You are simply a flat screen. On Wednesday, Ken was trying to embrace you and congratulate you on your triumph against humans. I don't think that was his intention. He was just trying to read the label off of your flat screen to make sure that it was not "Made in China." All our flat screen TVs are made in China.

I am glad that you don't have a face. Otherwise Ken or Brad would have simply knocked you down. You might have noticed that Ken was desperate to question answers, but you were a lot faster. We humans do engage in extra-curricular activities including violence. If you want to see how we knock down our competitors, just watch few NHL games. I am so sad we won't have a chance to get in your face and complain. You are the smartest kid on the block. You are going to make us feel inferior, but we can't punch you in your belly. World is not fair.

Do you know that IBM had managed to bestow upon you all the advantages, and I might add unfair, so that you would win the Jeopardy championship? Ken and Brad had only brain each. You had 2,880 brains! IBM would have added more brains in a heartbeat if IBM thought you could have been defeated. Jeopardy didn't allow Ken and Brad to team up. Otherwise, they could have defeated you on Wednesday.

You also had a significant advantage, and unfair, with your buzzer. You were relying on an pneumatic buzzer. Ken and Brad were relying on their hands to press a buzzer. Hands, being a mechanical device, operate at a considerably lesser speed than your circuit. You may not be the smartest. You should have buzzed in your questions like Brad and Ken did. I know my fellow humans are very smart. They had their answers at the same nanosecond that you had yours. They simply couldn't buzz their answers in as fast as you were able to. You had an advantage. I thought machines were not capable of cheating, but you did. You will do well in this human world.

You almost ruined the most promising career for yourself one could ever imagine in his or her wildest ream. But I think you will be fine. You were just amazing. I don't have words to describe your achievements. What we have seen on Jeopardy is an evolution and a revolution. You put on a great show on earth. Your future is as bright and huge as this universe.

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