A: There was lots of debate within IBM about Watson’s name and image. How human should it be? Many worried that the public would view Watson as scary: a machine that learns our secrets and steals our jobs. So they decided to limit Watson’s human qualities. They would give its friendly, masculine voice a machine-like overtone. And its face, if you could call it that, would simply be a circular avatar—no eyes, nose or mouth, just streaming patterns representing flowing data. Despite these choices, I’ve noticed that fellow Jeopardy players immediately start to respond to Watson as another human—and not necessarily a friendly one. It’s playing the game, after all. And it usually beats them.
|Watson's LCD Face|
|Thomas J. Watson|
This was taken from the review of the book Jeopardy: Man vs Machine by Stephen Baker who chronicled the task of IBM to build such a computer with Artificial Intelligence. I heard about the show trying to capture younger audiences with this new computer Watson as the average age of the audience is now sixty-five. What better way to do this than technology? I then heard a podcast of NPR interviewing Stephen Baker after the airing of the final show. So I had missed the actual show. So being the curious person that I am, I watched it on you tube.
Try this next time you watch the News promo with one-liners for the upcoming news broadcast; after every promo sentence, shout "FEAR" after every sentence. "Are your children doing things on the internet when you're not home?" FEAR. "Find out what the local news team spotted on the predator registry today. Is a sexual predator living in your neighborhood?" FEAR. "We could be getting another snow storm tonight, tune into watch." FEAR. It's intoxicating. One must recognize there is a thin line growing between news and propaganda with this technique.
Watson was named for the founder of IBM: Thomas J. Watson. He knew a few things about intoxication. After his first job making $10 a week ($10 -a series of ones and zeros), he moved up as a salesperson to his second major job making $100 a week. He celebrated one night at a saloon and became drunk. He went out in the parking lot to find everything gone, his product that he was selling, his car, everything. So as a founder he instituted a policy at IBM that alcohol was not allowed. Period. One wonders if on February 14, 2011, the day WATSON won Jeopardy, if he might have celebrated with one glass of champagne. Can you imagine your namesake winning on Jeopardy?
Thomas J. Watson registered the slogan "THINK" at IBM. It is written on every wall in every room within the organization. The internal newsletter is called Think. I'm sure there's an article in Think that asks the jeopardy question: "The binary code 01010100 01001000 01001001 01001110 01001011" The answer is: What is THINK?