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In fact, there are probably not too many people besides me who think of it is a sexy book.

The same goes for me Goodfellas... to me, it's a romantic, sexy movie. It's not, but to me, that's where it resides in my memory.

new visitor

Just read (confession: skimmed through) your blog post for first time. And wish I'd more time this evening for reading/commenting, but was struck by your writing about humans vs computers answering questions, that seemed to have a corollary in the film Slumdog Millionaire, where no one could believe an uneducated 'slumdog' could answer all the questions. Perhaps it was an exaggerated fairy-tale, but I think the film was a testimony to the fact that poor, 'uneducated' people are greatly educated in ways that conventionally educated people couldn't understand, and that 'crumbs' of knowledge and feeling can be nurturing where people bloated by exposure books, films, intertubes, etc. would just ignore them.


Lance, the point behind the Watson experiment is a demonstration of "soft logic".

In other words, Watson was able to discern literate nuances from the "answers" that weren't direct facts, and to phrase an appropriate response in a given framework.

Practical applications? IBM is working with Dragon (voicerecognition) software to develop a version of Watson for hospitals that would take the place of a physician's assistant in collating information, including a patient interview, for a doctor to assess and diagnose.

Scary. huh.


I always find it a bit amusing when, in one of these human-versus-computer contests, success by the machine is seen as a "victory" over human beings. I find it amusing because it's really a story of collective human ingenuity versus individual human abilities; computers are, after all, the products of human beings, and as such, any triumph they might "enjoy" is therefore a human one.

minstrel hussain boy

as a former jeopardy winner (1 whole game! which puts me in the upper third of players) the biggest, and inevitably insurmountable edge that watson held was the timing of the buzzer.

when i have been asked for advice by people about to play on the show, i have told them to forget about study, hone the buzzer skills. my second game came down to the final 2K question, where i knew the answer (the flying dutchman), but got beaten on the buzzer and the other guy won by 200, bet it all on the final jeopardy answer, got it right (jefferson davis) and lost by a buck.

sic semper minstrels.

the programming challenges were daunting.

e.b. white rules. (i got the "elements of style" question too)


I didn't watch the human vs Watson shows. What a friend told me (who did watch them) was that Watson really won because it could hit the buzzer faster that it had an answer. (Said friend is a retired IBM researcher.)

Tom M

minstrel has it! as the father of a college jeopardy 3rd place finisher that was precisely her point right after the games. The guy who won, a senior at CMU, was quicker and spent most of his down time between shows practicing his button skills.
She was happy, though; so was I, it paid for grad school.

minstrel hussain boy

tell her that another jeopardy player said "way to go girl" tom.

the game is a pressure cooker (and i know from pressure, i've been a performer most of my adult life). like music though, it is absorbing enough that i was able to burrow my concentration deep into the game (i never even looked at the tote boards, i didn't know how close that last game had been until it was over).

i absolutely encourage everybody i talk with to go through the audition process. there is really nothing to lose and a tremendous upside. i ended up walking away with 30K and two friends from my group of contestants.

i was consistently amazed at how a concentration of very smart, highly competitive people could get along so well. i attribute most of it to the efforts of the staff and their intense focus on making sure that the rules are followed and the game is fair.

in a fair game, there is no shame in getting beaten. play hard, play fair and you have fun.

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