Machines Vs Humans – Machine wins!


I am sure “Machine always wins” phrase must have surely offended the humans amongst us. I am also sure that you can rattle off 100s of examples where machines don’t stand a chance compared to human brains… and there is always that one thing “Humans actually use less than 2% of their brain power..”

But there is one real live example where human brains have been crushed by humble made-by-human computers.

You may have already heard about “Jeopardy” game and many of you may have watched it as well? It is a real test of knowledge of an individual in varied areas. I am not going to talk much about the game, if you want to know more about the game, here are the details.


Now, coming to “machines vs humans” – A computer developed by IBM called “Watson” crushed two human champions in the man vs. machine showdown on the popular US television game show "Jeopardy!"

If you think little deeper, Jeopardy as a game requires speed (first to press the buzzer gets to answer the question) and quick understanding of the question to get the correct answer.

From Computers perspective, speed should not be a problem. But understanding the question in natural human language, analysing it and getting the correct answer is extremely process intensive and where humans seem to have the edge. But that does not seem to be the case…

Here is how IMB Watson handles the questions:

Watson has thousands of algorithms it runs on the questions it gets, both for comprehension and for answer formulation. The thing is, instead of running these sequentially and passing along results, Watson runs them all simultaneously and compares all the myriad results at the end, matching up a potential meaning for the question with a potential answer to the question. The algorithms are backed up by vast databases, though there’s no active connection to the internet. [Engadget] 

Just to give you an idea about how well IBM Watson played the game, here the Scorecard !

IBM Watson Jeopardy Scorecard


[image source: 1 , 2]

OK, let me be clear here – I am in the camp of people who think that machines long way from coming close to potential of human brain, but these kind of examples sure show us that Machines are developing fast as well.

What do you think – Is it really possible to have Terminator, Transformers or Matrix like situations in future ?

1 Comment
  1. Altaf Rahman says

    Nice article Arun,

    How ever I would like to present my two paisa here :)


    Examples :

    1) Either Viswanath Anand or Gary Kasparov (I dont remember exactly) won Chess against the greatest computer.

    2) My average score while playing chess with my PC is 25 to 1 (I win 25 times before a freak loss to PC)

    The point is when we say machine we have to understand the level of its preparedness. Proof : I play chess with PC at starters level. I know all the mistakes the machine is going to make. So I win always.

    Machine at starters level is equivalent of your discription of humans using 2% of our analitical ability.

    Some times if we really focus, we can increase our use of brain power to may be 5%. Some real genious like Viswanath Anand can raise it to may be 80-90%.

    However, Terminator kind of situation is entirely positive (atleast theoritically now). We are still far from developing computers with analitical power. Then they have to disobey us. It is few generations away from us (just like crude oil running out in next few generations and dangers of ice caps melting)

    I pity my great great grand children. Poor kids !! They have to face so many difficulties. They have to face the mutated computers, they have to do with out cheap crude oil, they have to float above risen ocean levels.

    Just my two paisa :)

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