Watson Lacks Conversation Skills and He Is Not Evil

April 22, 2016

When I was in New York last year, I was walking on the west side when I noticed several other pedestrians moving out of the way of a man mumbling to himself.  Doing as the natives do, I moved aside and heard the man rumble about how, “The robots are taking over and soon they will be ruling us.  You all are idiots for not listening to me.”  Fear of a robot apocalypse has been constant since computer technology gained precedence and we also can thank science-fiction for perpetuating it.  Tech Insider says in “Watson Can’t Actually Talk To You Like In The Commercials” Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and other tech leaders have voiced their concerns about creating artificial intelligence that is so advanced it can turn evil.

IBM wants people to believe otherwise, which explains their recent PR campaign with commercials that depict Watson carrying on conversations with people.  The idea is that people will think AI are friendly, here to augment our jobs, and overall help us.  There is some deception on IBM’s part, however.  Watson cannot actually carry on a conversation with a person.  People can communicate with, usually via an UI like a program via a desktop or tablet.  Also there is more than one Watson, each is programmed for different functions like diagnosing diseases or cooking.

“So remember next time you see Watson carrying on a conversation on TV that it’s not as human-like as it seems…Humor is a great way to connect with a much broader audience and engage on a personal level to demystify the technology,’ Ann Rubin, Vice President IBM Content and Global Creative, wrote in an email about the commercials. ‘The reality is that these technologies are being used in our daily lives to help people.’”

If artificial intelligence does become advanced enough that it is capable of thought and reason comparable to a human, it is worrisome.  It might require that certain laws be put into place to maintain control over the artificial “life.”  That day is a long time off, however, until then embrace robots helping to improve life.


Whitney Grace, April 22, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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