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Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, United States
A guy finding out if life really does begin at 50.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Watson on Jeopardy

In case you not heard, an IBM computer named Watson will take on the Jeopardy champs February 14-16. What you may well witness on Jeopardy could be the event that leads to the computer being the third leg of technology equal to fire and the printing press.

Those of you old enough to have used a slide rule in high school or college (I am) will remember very well being in total awl when you held your 1st pocket calculator. I bet you still remember when you got it - I do. I had to wait for the prices to come down before I was able to buy my first one in 1975, a HP-21 Scientific Pocket Calculator. Since we today take calculators for granted and they are so cheap that we discard them when the battery is depleted, you might like to know I paid $139.00 for it in 1975. That $139 is the same buying power as $578.36 today.

I believe Watson, with it's ability to process Human Natural Language will in time take us from the 'computer as a slide rule age' we are in today to the 'computer as a Pocket Calculator age'. Future inexpensive Watsons will take the drudgery out of using computers the same way the pocket calculator took the drudgery out of finding the cubed root of 2197.

I realize this might be a big yawn on the why brother scale for most people, but I believe this TV event will be remembered as is man's landing on the moon. Maybe not as well or by as many, but shame on you that miss it. I saw the moon landing and with luck and a TV I'll see this important first too.