Sean King

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Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Singularity is Here?

This week IBM's supercomputer, named Watson, defeated Jeopardy Grand Champions in practice rounds.

While most will no doubt downplay this achievement, just think of what this computer is required to do to win: Not only must it understand the spoken/written word, it must also grasp the subtleties of Jeopardy's "answers". It can only do this by properly deciphering the frequent puns and double entendres inherent in the given "answers". And then it must locate the correct information in its massive database necessary to phrase the proper "question". And finally, it must do all of this faster than expert humans can.

It's quite an achievement, really, and as the link above suggests, one that has much practical significance.

Given that yesterday's supercomputers are today's smart phones, it won't be too long before such computational power is available to anyone with a few thousand bucks to spend.

The singularity may just have begun in the second week of January, 2011.

UPDATE:> NPR has some thoughts on the significance of the Singularity. Michael Anissimov has some thoughts as well.

It remains to be seen whether the advent of artificial general intelligence will be utopian or distopian as far as humans are concerned. But one thing is certain: The world will keep changing, and now at a rate faster than many are prepared psychologically to accept.

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