NJ congressman tops 'Jeopardy' computer Watson

Mar 01, 2011
In this Oct. 14, 2010 file photo, Democratic Rep. Rush Holt answers a question during a debate with Republican challenger Scott Sipprelle in Trenton, N.J. Holt, a plasma physicist-turned-politician, topped the IBM supercomputer 'Watson' in a round of Jeopardy! in Washington, on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011. Holt was a five-time Jeopardy! winner. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

(AP) -- Turns out all it took to top Watson, the "Jeopardy"-winning computer, was a rocket scientist.

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt of New Jersey is just such a scientist.

The success of Holt - a five-time champion during the trivia show's original run 35 years ago - topped the IBM computer Monday night in a "" exhibition match of congressmen vs. machine held at a Washington hotel.

Holt, a Democrat from the Princeton area, built a lead in categories including "Presidential Rhyme Time," in which the correct response to "Herbert's military strategy" was "Hoover's maneuvers." The congressman also correctly identified hippophobia as the fear of horses.

Watson beat him to the buzzer with the answer "love" when prompted on what Ambrose Bierce described as "a temporary insanity curable by marriage."

Holt played the first round along with Rep. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican. At the end of the round, Holt had earned $8,600 to Watson's $6,200.

But the computer ultimately triumphed in later rounds against other representatives, amassing a combined $40,300 to the humans' $30,000.

Holt received a round of applause Tuesday at a hearing of the House Natural Resources Committee for besting the computer.

He thanked crowd and gave a shout-out to "neuron based thinking, instead of semi-conductor thinking."

Holt said it was fun to beat the heralded computer. But he also said it's important that Americans realize how crucial math and science education is to the nation's future.

"I was proud to hold my own with Watson," Holt said. "More importantly, I was proud to join IBM and other members of Congress to highlight the importance of science and math education and research and development.

"While it was fun to outdo Watson for one night in trivia, it is vital that, as a nation, we out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world for generations to come," he said.

Christopher Padilla, IBM's vice president of governmental programs, said the untelevised exhibition was "more than a trivia contest."

"The technology behind represents a major advancement in computing," he said. "In the data-intensive environment of government, this type of technology can help organizations make better decisions and improve how government helps its citizens."

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Parsec
2.2 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2011
A politician beat Watson? Know me over with a feather. Has the world ended?

At least he was a Democrat. I wonder what the pubies would do.
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2011
The only problem is that it was known that Watson wouldn't win 100% of the time. Even against Jennings, Watson tied the first round. If he could play 100 games with Watson and then compare wins, it would be more useful. Of course, that's not really reasonable.
braindead
2.6 / 5 (5) Mar 01, 2011
"... it is vital that, as a nation, we out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world for generations to come," he said.

No wonder the world is so messed up with that sort of attitude about the one and only planet we live on. Move to Mars Yanks!
Quantum_Conundrum
2.6 / 5 (11) Mar 01, 2011
No wonder the world is so messed up with that sort of attitude about the one and only planet we live on. Move to Mars Yanks!


Riiight...

Because the world would be SUCH a great place if Muslims and Chinese out innovate us for the next 50 years. I'm sure THEY will protect your freedoms...
ennui27
not rated yet Mar 01, 2011
A politician beat Watson? Know me over with a feather. Has the world ended?

At least he was a Democrat. I wonder what the pubies would do.


The Jets have been saying that since the last Super Bowl, too.
Decimatus
not rated yet Mar 02, 2011
We could use a few more politicians with that kind of brain power. I don't even care if a third of them are failure politicians, it would be better than the current rate of failure.
Eikka
3.4 / 5 (5) Mar 02, 2011
Most of what Watson does is magic tricks. Take for example one of the famous "Tough questions":

“Reality Shows A La Shakespeare.”
“Heroes and Villains around! Colby, Coach and Rupert doth return to the fray, but Boston Rob, the tribe hath spoken.”
Answer: "What is Survivor?"

What Watson does is, it removes all words that are unlikely to be in the modern english language, and all trivial words and symbols, emphasizing on the nouns and names, resulting in a search string:

heroes villains colby coach rupert boston rob tribe

Plug that into Google, and the first thing you get is "Survivor on TV.com". (Watson doesn't have Google, but it has a vast database anyways)

How does it know to do that? It doesn't. It simply applies multiple different filters, then does hundreds of parallel searches, and compares the results to find what gives the most consistent answer. What words pop up the most is likely the right answer.

It doesn't understand what it searches. It just searches.
Eikka
3.3 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2011
Or another interesting question: "The unit of frequency".

That's a trivial search. It's "What is Hertz?"

That isn't the interesting bit. Watson's second answer candidate was more interesting, "What is a car rental company?"

To arrive to that potential answer, it had to take the the right answer that it already had and do a back search. Why would it do that if it already knew the right answer?

Because it doesn't understand the question or the answer. All of it is gobbledygook to it, and it's trying to do a back search to check whether its answers yield something similiar to the question. Hertz is a commonly known auto rental and pops up in searches quite a lot.
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2011

Because the world would be SUCH a great place if Muslims and Chinese out innovate us for the next 50 years. I'm sure THEY will protect your freedoms...


Problem is, to do that they would have to give up the essential parts of their ideologies that makes them such an ideological hazard to the rest of the world, and actually start to second-guess themselves.

Where would western science be if we were still scholastics debating about where the four corners of the earth are, like it says in the Bible?
Blakut
1.5 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2011

Because it doesn't understand the question or the answer. All of it is gobbledygook to it, and it's trying to do a back search to check whether its answers yield something similiar to the question. Hertz is a commonly known auto rental and pops up in searches quite a lot.

So what? If it got the right answer, it means it "understood".
How do you know a human brain doesn't work the same way? Because you can feel it? Not a valid answer...
Eikka
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2011
Oh, and the top question that Watson got wrong... or did it?

"Its largest airport is named for a World War II hero, its second largest for a World War II battle."

Did you know that there is a Toronto in Jefferson County, Chicago, that happens to be the second largest in the area, that has a memorial airpark named after an actor, whose famous role was a military officer?

hxxp://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=Toronto+jefferson+county+ohio+US

Swing and a miss, but a good try.
Au-Pu
3 / 5 (2) Mar 02, 2011
Eikka your posting stressing that Watson simply searches without any understanding is correct.
But for Chris Padillo of IBM to suggest that this technology could benefit organisations and government to improve help for its citizens is an unbelievable con.
I hope no one has fallen for that crap.
Eikka
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2011

So what? If it got the right answer, it means it "understood".
How do you know a human brain doesn't work the same way? Because you can feel it? Not a valid answer...


Because it doesn't. The human brain does a semantic search, not a symbolic search, although we can do the same thing as well. It's called rote learning - when you repeat something so often that you can confidently remember X is Y without ever knowing what X or Y means.

The problem with semantic search for computers is, that every word, no matter how well you link it up with other words, is still a meaningless symbol. The computer can't observe the relations between the word and reality, because the computer observes only the index of symbols and nothing else. It really has no knowledge of anything.
Bog_Mire
3.3 / 5 (4) Mar 02, 2011


Riiight...

Because the world would be SUCH a great place if Muslims and Chinese out innovate us for the next 50 years. I'm sure THEY will protect your freedoms...

What, you mean the freedom to invade a country claiming "threat to world peace" but really because it is financially expedient whilst ignoring blatant human rights abuses right next door because they have no financial consequences to you?
frajo
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2011
Where would western science be if we were still scholastics debating about where the four corners of the earth are, like it says in the Bible?
In close vicinity to Creationists, war criminals, and non-consensual human experiments.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (3) Mar 02, 2011
Eikka:

The four corners is a metaphor, it is not and never was a literal statement.

Other places in the Bible clearly show that the authors knew and understood not only that the earth was "round," but that it was in a "space" and moreover, that there were other "worlds".

It is true that a lot of READERS have made incorrect assumptions because they read one passage out of context and then ask an uninformed question.

Take the question of "where did Cain and Abel's wives come from?"

It's a very old one, and even most Christians and Jews don't know the answer, even though its plainly given in chapter 5, verse 4, that Adam had other "sons and daughters," besides those named.

The point is, any "where are the four corners" debate would, in fact, be based on a question of ignorance of the Bible, and someone took one passage out of context and ran with it, without comparing it to other passages which were more properly related to the topic.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2011
Anyway, on the topic of computers that actually learn, I think they need to have an approach which would be like a Chess algorithm which has "memory". The machine should be designed to solve problems and "memorize" solutions, not just memorize a bunch of facts and parse or search it.

Chess engines have come a long way. I'm just a casual player, but I used to spot other casual players a Bishop and still win best of 3 and best of 7 matches. I get absolutely destroyed by the level 10 A.I. on Chess Titans. Even this a.i. is not really a "learning" engine, but it doesn't need to learn any more, because it can calculate all possibilities and rank them on position, material, and tempo advantages in about two seconds, then pick the best move.

The point is the algorithm for an a.i. needs to be able to "learn" by solving the problem via experimentation, rather than just memorizing stuff. There is no reason why a computer couldn't do this with the proper programing and enough parallelism.
stealthc
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2011
it can also improve 'management of the surfs'. I don't like the idea of using these computers given the fact that fraudsters are running the world at the moment. Maybe after the people are done liberating themselves? This technology is by far too dangerous give the system's track record with such dangerous types of technology.
droid001
not rated yet Mar 02, 2011
The point is the algorithm for an a.i. needs to be able to "learn"

So simple - A.I. needs ability to learn, or in other words - ability to white his own code.
winthrom
not rated yet Mar 02, 2011
There was an SF story about an nuclear scientist working on an A-Bomb invited to his manager's house for dinner. The manager had a mentally handicapped son with an IQ below 50. The manager and scientist argued about the uses of the A-bomb and the Scientist said he was resigning because of the devistation the bomb could create. The manager just shrugged and went to see about his son, only to discover the boy playing with a loaded gun, apparently left by the scientist.

Moral of the story: Only a madman would give an idiot a loaded gun

Anybody for "Terminator" ?
FunkyDude
not rated yet Mar 06, 2011
Some negative comments on here, it's pretty cool if you ask me, seems like a smart guy, and nice to see that we have someone that intelligent as a representative.
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (1) Mar 06, 2011
"... it is vital that, as a nation, we out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world for generations to come," he said.

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FCCIII
1 / 5 (1) Mar 07, 2011
I suspect he's trying to remove the teacher's union cancer that is hurting the school systems. Granted, not all teachers deserve this, but when you're ranking below the top 10 world-wide it should make you put the hammer down (which will make a crashing noise when it hits)
ennui27
not rated yet Mar 07, 2011
I suspect he's trying to remove the teacher's union cancer that is hurting the school systems. Granted, not all teachers deserve this, but when you're ranking below the top 10 world-wide it should make you put the hammer down (which will make a crashing noise when it hits)


Just have been checking the SAT scores ..... they have Wisconsin at #3 in the US.

http://www.common...by-state

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