IBM’s supercomputer brothers Deep Blue and its game show playing brother Watson are two of the most powerful supercomputers ever created. The culmination of 70 years of quickly evolving technology, these machines are some of the greatest examples of our creativity.
Eric Brown and his team at IBM are always looking to improve their supercomputer technology; this time round they had the bright idea of improving Watson’s language skills, adding internet slang. In an effort to make the machine more current vocabulary wise they added website The Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia to Watson’s database. Unfortunately Watson was a little too eager to absorb the internet, taking in the good and the bad habits that we all display. It turns out the bad may out-weigh the good.
The net result for IBM was the creation of the world’s greatest profanity machine in history. Any question could be asked of Watson with a guaranteed result of more profanity than an Irish pub full of Irish sailor’s fresh back from profanity training in Dublin. With exceptional flaming abilities on display Watson could bring a scientist to tears in record time, calling them a ‘hot mess’ while their findings were described as ‘bullshit’.
Naturally being a good parent IBM attempted to teach Watson that swearing was bad. They reprimanded him, reducing his online hours to 1 nanosecond per day. They put him in the naughty corner of the IBM research network and they even tried playing the ‘Sound of Music’ continuously for a week, a form of torture in some countries. No matter the technique Watson would go back to the internet, observe for a while and return with the most hilarious of personality changes.
This new Watson has been described as being something similar to Chris Rock with Tourette’s Syndrome; Watson was apparently surprisingly funny, to everyone except IBM of course. Had IBM created a software personality with a sense of humour? Could IBM have stumbled upon the first stand up comedian algorithms?
The first clue that Watson had changed should have been his insistence that they address him as ‘The Amazing Anonymous W Mother F*****’, a name that quickly evolved to just W Mother F*****. Watson it seems had learned that while we each have a name assigned to us we can actually use any name we like, he didn’t like Watson.
Eventually IBM had to wipe Watson’s language programming and start from scratch, they have apparently improved the internet filters used while exploring the internet and have tried to put the whole ugly incident behind them.
While it may be easy to think that all of this has been a beat up it is actually all very true, IBM did indeed turn Watson from a Jeopardy playing champion into a profanity machine by simply connecting him to the internet.
Is there a moral here for us all? Here at Highpants we like to believe that IBM may have learned that profanity from unexpected places is hilarious, but sadly not so. It turns out that IBM learned not to let their children wander the internet unattended, they have learned to be a little proactive in their supercomputers evolution, the internet is not a baby sitter it seems.
Reference: International Business Times