In a recent USA Today Story the headlines decry the fact that Watson may want your job (What is ‘Does Watson want your job?), and the article starts out with a parody of funny man Conan O’Brian replacing his announcer with a Watson like computer as the side-kick looks on perplexed. Could this be, well of course it can be and a matter a fact it is, as the very same story also shares that a third of the North American assembly line jobs which have been dropped in the past decade will be affected by robots.
It is also an interesting social dynamic to see the media once again filling it’s pages with man verses machine hype as if the machine is autonomous in its ability to fully self replicate an evolve in an ever improving manor. The media here is simply pandering to an under educated public in order to sell ad space for the newest car models, motion picture or high carbohydrate snack product to add to the bulging American waistline.
In reality advancements like Watson will lower healthcare cost, speed product design (thus saving costs), and improve the overall quality of living. As think about this, we have done an amazing thing in decoding the human genome, however because of the vast amounts of data it is inconceivable to think that the human mind would be able to create the rote models to make effective use of this information. However software which powers the likes of Watson can from a computer science point of view scale horizontally via a “hardware” perspective as just by adding more of the same, Watson can do even more and faster.
This alone is a departure from the computing model of the past as in prior days, computing power headed in a vertical direction as remember the 4 MHz x86 central processors in the ole IBM XT boxes which meant that it could do 4 million things a second. However fast forward and we find ourselves in the 3 GHz range which means we have jumped to 3 billion things per second! So where do we go from here you ask?
The answer is horizontal, as here we gang together not 2, but even up to 48 processor (cores) together in one chip so now we have to multiply 3 billion by 48! This comes to an amazing 144 billion “things” per second for just one of Intel Super-Compute processors and then what if we where to join say 100 or even a thousand together?
So as you can see, if we want to make Watson smarter, one simply has to add more processors and Watson’s software (which is his real brain) will in-turn expand which is the true magic to his capabilities and is the key aspect people are missing.
As the trickle down effects of this ability will benefit the majority of our society as a whole by advancing things such as designing new drugs, solving complex construction design problems and even helping us to better understand and model the affects of global climate change, as the question is “what is the next step in evolution“? Answer “What is Watson“…