People Powered Processing,…
… try and say that five-times in a row. Last night I watched the conclusion of IBM’s Grand Challenge on Jeopardy,… which pitted IBM’s ‘question answering supercomputer’ called Watson against the best-of-the-best past contestants Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Watson seemed to be playing with the humans at times, but in the end beat them bad. Beyond the fact all winnings went to charity (nice),… what can we conclude from this battle of man vs. machine…?
I came away with several conclusions. First, the amazing benefit we have today as a result of access, instantaneous access to the world’s facts. Watson used 15 trillion bytes of memory (15X the capacity of the human memory system),… just imagine what would be possible when this doubles, and doubles again in the near future. Second, that ‘context’ and ‘consideration’ tip the advantage to humans. For example, how one responds to a question may depend more on who is asking the question vs. the question itself. We’ve all done it,… answered a question in a way we know the person asking the question will react positively to,… where the computer just states the facts, and nothing more.
And third,… the contest clearly demonstrated the impact of collaboration in solving problems. Watson was not just one computer, but 2,800 processors stitched together (can you imagine how fast it would crank a multi-player video game…!). While each human brain has somewhat similar processing power,… one person’s interests can vary dramatically from another’s, and thus ‘together’ would represent a broader spectrum of potential input and problem solving ability. What if Ken and Brad worked together on their answers…? They still would have lost, though staging a more competitive response. This is why co-working is such a phenomena these days, and growing rapidly. Professionals from completely different disciplines physically located in the same space, a space designed to support social exchange and collaborative interaction,… makes all participants much smarter (just like Watson). Do you Co-work…?