Ray Kurzweil on IBM’s Watson
Ray Kurzweil has held many hats. Accomplished scientist, entrepreneur, among the foremost thinkers in the realm of artificial intelligence and most recently as Director of Engineering at Google.
The naturally held belief is that Kurzweil will use his 50 years of expertise in AI and bring it together with the learnings from Knowledge Graph to revolutionize semantic search for Google.
Fascinating interview of how he intends to do it here, by Forbes journalist, Robert Hof.
However one part of this enthralling interview stood out for me.
“I will say that IBM’s Watson [the famous Jeopardy!-playing computer] does an impressive job of actually understanding semantic language, and it shows the feasibility of doing this. All the knowledge that Watson had was not hand-coded in some computer language. The idea that you could write down all this common-sense knowledge … turns out to be very brittle, because it doesn’t reflect the ambiguities sufficiently in language and common-sense knowledge.
Watson didn’t work that way. It actually got its knowledge by reading Wikipedia and several other encyclopedias, and then played a game that is not a narrow task. It’s really equivalent to answering questions. The queries can be very diverse. For example, it got the query, “A long, tiresome speech delivered by a frothy pie topping,” and it answered, “What is a meringue harangue?” Watson got a higher score in Jeopardy! than the next best two human players put together.”