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Monday, October 19, 2015

Bob Dylan, IBM, Watson and the lies surrounding massive text processing

Bob Dylan must be in trouble. He has made a commercial for IBM. Actually I kind of like IBM. They were a leader in my world for a long time and did many good things. But, now they are hawking Watson. Fortune had this to say:

Bob Dylan gets tangled up in Big Blue

The folk rock icon stars in an IBM  IBM 0.20%  commercial that premiered this week in which he talks with the Watson supercomputer about music, love, and, of course, its knack for coming up with smart answers. IBM is trying to push Watson as a key technology service that could help put an end the company’s declining revenues.

(You can see the ad in the Fortune article.)

The problem is that Watson is a big lie. Yes, it can process text and discover that Dylan says the word "love" a great deal. But processing massive amounts of text and discovering statistical patterns is not the same as understanding the text and Watson is certainly not learning anything more than what words show up together. IBM concocted one of those "conversations" between Dylan and Watson which sounds like someone might understand what the other is saying. It is all an attempt to find a use for Watson to help in processing massive amounts of text. But, as I said in an earlier column, people don't really learn by reading and computers certainly don't. Watson is not an AI machine no matter how often IBM says it is.


Paul Miller said...

Error. Does anything today do real AI?

laserblue said...

It's ok Dr. Schank. It won't be the first time they re-invented the wheel. Didn't you hear? Rumor has it that Mr. Dylan is dead. I saw it on that PAUL movie. Maybe next they will use Bogey. "The processing troubles of three humans don't amount to a hill of beans."
Whatever happened to old BORIS and AQUA and IPP and all those other programs your students developed? Sometimes it seems like the CIA took them underground and buried them.