Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Paving the Way to Your Retirement

"Watson" seems to be on the top of the world at the moment, and it suggests ominous things as far as I can see. Many of us are in serious jeopardy as a result of Watson's success...well, many of YOU...I'll be out of the employment loop by the time its real functions are fully developed.
In case you haven't been following Watson's career...well, it's only two days old with one more to go, and Watson has shown itself to be as advertised.
Developed over the last couple of years, Watson is the newest competitor on Jeopardy: a computer playing against two human opponents. The first day ended in a virtual tie, but today, the computer ran roughshod over its dumbfounded opponents, tripling the amount of money won by the second-best player.
Really, it's a marvel of technology: a computer that can respond to the human this case, the moderator asking questions. This ability comes from harnessing the combined capacity of 2,800 "powerful" computers, but all of this brings to mind several points to ponder:

1. While the result is amazing, what was the cost of 2 years' worth of research, development, etc. I mean, I still get a cold every winter. I'd rather somebody invest the time and money solving THAT issue...and cold sores, and a lack of Clint Eastwood movies on television.

2. Can it be long before we have reality shows that star only interactive robots? Think of the savings this would provide...though it would eliminate the laundry, workouts and tanning of some of the more popular shows. Would there be Computing with the Stars or The 'Bots Next Door? It would, of course, make way for constant reruns of The Day the Earth Stood Stilll, and Lost in Space, if only for comedic purposes.

3. On a more serious note, who among us could NOT be replaced with an interactive robot? It wouldn't lose its temper with unruly children screaming at the grocery store or spilling paint on the rug for the tenth time; we already have car technology that will parallel park without driver's assistance. Online education would be a snap as long as the "teacher" could understand and respond to the human voice...and they would certainly replace that guy on TV who does the dirtiest jobs; in fact, NO human would have to do the dirtiest job...or many of the current jobs available. Want fries with that? Easy. It's scary even to think about the endless possibilities when unemployment skyrockets and per capita income plummets. Too much time and too little money spell trouble to me.

4. What might seem like the perfect playmate for children could leave them devoid of empathy and lacking real social skills...something like the internet and the video game industry do to a certain extent already.

I just hope WE develop this thing before THEY do! ("Watson" sounds too British for me...but then, didn't Bell have an assistant named Watson as well?
I'll get the rocking chair out so we can sit on the porch and watch the artifical intelligence creatures take over.


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