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Next on Jeopardy – Computers as Contestants - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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June 17th, 2010

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03:50 am - Next on Jeopardy – Computers as Contestants
Here's a fascinating article about an IBM computer that can (mostly) win at the gameshow Jeopardy. This system isn't anything remotely like an AI, and it has some serious limits, but it's very close to natural language question answering, and that's very impressive indeed. The predictions that this same system could run on laptops in the early 2020s are fair nifty too. However, well before that, we'll almost certainly see versions of this system in low level customer service and tech support. I'm guessing that in less than a decade increasing amounts of low level outsourced (and non-outsourced) customer service and tech support phone lines will be replaced by such systems. Just as machines began replacing human labor in factories in the 1980s, in the 2010s, automation will start to replace humans in lower level office jobs. Obviously, such a system won't be able to resolve all problems and sometimes a trained person will need to take over, but I could easily see it being able to handle 75% of calls that now go to call centers. This has interesting implications for the future of work.

In addition, I'm betting that Google is eagerly awaiting this – you can often already get somewhat useful results typing natural language questions into a Google search, but this system will do a whole lot better. Combine this with some of the better voice recognition systems, a similarly designed visual recognition system (of the sort also being developed today), and a 2015 smartphone connected to a server with this sort of program, and the result would be augmented reality where you point the camera at something, ask "What is that building? (or tree, or shop, or gadget) and you will get a clear, swift, and useful answer. Similarly, the phone's speaker could listen to a song playing in a café you are walking by and identify it. Throw in display glasses fitted with a camera, and the entire process becomes seamless.
Current Mood: impressedimpressed

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[User Picture]
Date:June 17th, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
The "phone listens to a song and identifies it" software is already out on the market! It's called Shazam. It recognizes just about everything except my friends' local bands, even in, say, a crowded bar

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