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Technology

IBM Thought Watson Got Too Urban, Put Him Back in the Suburbs

Courtesy of Slate.com

News has surfaced from CNN this week about the beginning stages of Watson, the supercomputer that beat the best of the best in Jeopardy a couple of years ago.  Apparently, the machine, just like any teenager decided to rebel and the developers and researchers had to teach it a lesson, if you want to say he was taught during the process.

For those who aren’t aware, Watson was built and will be used in the medical field to further assist staff in their day to day tasks.  One way to do this is by having the machine be able to understand and respond using natural human language.  One way to do this is by teaching it very subtle things, such as slang.  One researcher decided that a good way to do this is by teaching it phrases from Urban Dictionary.  Now, while Urban Dictionary will help people in understanding what the kids are saying these days like OMG and LOL and ROFL, it also teaches the people more vulgar phrases such as “butter my muffin“.

Due to the machine not really understanding the difference between polite and rude, its said that the machine picked up some very bad habits.  According to the researcher, Wikipedia actually didn’t help matters much.  It had gotten to a point where Watson responded to a researcher’s question with the word “bullshit”. This prompted the researchers to effectively block Urban Dictionary and then scrub any memory of the site altogether.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I hope that help Watson figure out the subtleties of the human language.  I dream of a day when I can walk into a hospital, tell the computer I got an arrow to the knee, and responds, “GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE!”

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