Archive for November, 2011

The problem with Jeopardy!

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

The I’ve-been-blogging-for-five-years-but-am-still-paranoid-about-work-related-posts-being-misrepresented disclaimer:
I do work for IBM as a developer on Watson but that role doesn’t extend to this blog. My responsibilities for Watson are limited to writing code… so any ramblings here are my personal views, and not necessarily representative of IBM’s positions, strategy or opinions.

The first time most people saw or heard of Watson was on “America’s favourite quiz show”, Jeopardy!

And that association seems to have stuck. For the moment, at least, Watson’s identity seems to bound up with Jeopardy’s. It’s “the computer system that won on Jeopardy!”

I’m not sure that’s entirely a good thing.

Jeopardy! was a great demonstration of Watson’s capabilities in a lot of ways. It showed the breakthroughs in interpreting natural language, the breakthroughs in coming up with evidence and rationale and identifying the level of confidence in it’s answer’s, and the power of machine learning systems.

But… it does make it easy to misunderstand the future potential of the technology.


Why I go to barcamps

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Last week, I went to BarCamp London. As always, it was a great weekend.

If you’ve not been to something like this before, the idea is that it’s a conference where each attendee contributes a session. There’s no real theme – just talk about something interesting.

You end up with an agenda made up of the interests, hobbies and skills of the random collection of people who managed to get a ticket. It makes for a more varied and eclectic agenda then you get from a traditionally organised conference.