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New Things

February 20, 2011

    I am looking still getting used to the new format of this blog and it makes for a bit slower rate of posting.  A couple of years ago I changed jobs to work closer to home and to challenge myself.  Perhaps it is a way of keeping my brain young, but I think it has given me a few more grey hairs.  Ahh, but as they say, “change is good.”

   Last week we had a power outage.  It meant I had to go around  resetting clocks, presets and timers.  I forgot about the timer outside connected to the patio lights and today I went to adjust it to the proper time.  When I opened the cover up, I suprised a group of baby spiders!  I guess they are using the black case and miniscule heat of the timer to keep warm and get a jump start on spring. Amazing  little creatures.  I hope they all make it and that I have less aphids this year because of them.

  New buds are coming up all throughout my flower bed and garden.  I have a boutiful crop of garlic coming up.  Unfortunately the ground is still too cold to be planting any seeds, but I was in Canadian Tire and bought new seeds for when it warms up in March  or April.  I found some real interesting varieties, including white carrots and climbing purple beans.  Until then I get to stay indoors and dream of warmer days. 

  One of the past-times I had this last week was watching Jeopardy.  A friend suggested that I might be interested in the show this time because of the computer that would be playing.  Normally I dislike the program because I find the format of answering the statement with a question weird, but this time I did find it interesting. 

  IBM thought to challenge their creative people by having them put together a computer that could  play Jeopardy along side human contestants.  Because the questions in  Jeopardy are language based a computer has a lot of difficulty understanding unlike the game of chess.  It took them years to get the computer brain up to speed to  just to understand the questions and then a couple of more years to be able to find the correct answers.   The result was a computer they called Watson.

   If you are interested in the development of the artificial intelligence and the machine learning that went into the development of Watson I suggest that you watch the NOVA  program about it.  If you don’t live in the USA you will need to watch the episode in several parts on  You Tube.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIDLd1HUjxY&feature=related

  Then if you missed the Jeopardy episodes over three days with Watson you can catch them on You Tube as well.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PSPvHcLnN0

 

  Some things, like Watson, are new, but then some things don’t change.  I found the story one programmer had to relate quite remarkable;  when he brought his son to watch one of the practice sessions with a simulated Jeopardy game, Watson the computer didn’t do so well, answering questions incorrectly and was mocked by the host of the show.  The child was upset at how Watson was being picked on.  After the three days on the Jeopardy Challenge when the human players were soundly defeated they smiled and made finger bunny ears behind the Watson avatar.  Watson may have won the game but the humans proved that there is still a darn sight more to know about us.

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