Archives for computers



Is the Computer Really Smarter?

Watson may have triumphed at Jeopardy!, but Brian Christian examines computer intelligence more closely in the Atlantic. Christian recently participated in the Turing Test: “I will sit down at a computer and have a series of five-minute instant-message chats with several strangers. At the other end of these chats will be a psychologist, a linguist, a computer scientist, and the host of a popular British technology show. Together they form a judging panel, evaluating my ability to do one of the strangest things I’ve ever been asked to do. I must convince them that I’m human.” Read More »



It's Official: The Computer's Smarter

The IBM supercomputer named Watson has beaten two Jeopardy! champions in a three-night marathon. The computer was awarded a $1 million prize, but the BBC reports that “the victory for Watson and IBM was about more than money. It was about ushering in a new era in computing where machines will increasingly be able to learn and understand what humans are really asking them for. Jeopardy is seen as a significant challenge for Watson because of the show’s rapid-fire format and clues that rely on subtle meanings, puns, and riddles; something humans excel at and computers do not.” Read More »



Already Afraid to Open Your Web Browser? Meet the "Evercookie"

As security guru Bruce Schneier writes, “the arms race continues.” I do wonder if, when, or how there will be a computer users’ revolt against tracking tools like this one. Read More »



The Computer as Oracle

When given strong data to work with, computers can do a good job of beating humans in predicting what the masses will embrace. BusinessWeek has an interesting recap of successful machine-made future-gazing. Read More »



Should the Digital Divide Be Closed?

Computer access and test scores. Read More »



Computers Help Children Learn Computer Skills, But What Else?

There’s a new working paper (summary here; PDF here) from Ofer Malamud and Cristian Pop-Eleches called “Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital.” Read More »



Man vs. Machine on Jeopardy

IBM researchers are hard at work creating a computer that will match wits against humans on the television show Jeopardy. Compared to checkers, chess, or backgammon, playing Jeopardy would seem to be a hard task for a computer because language is such a fundamental part of answering the questions correctly. Read More »



Precision Hacking

Take a look at the final vote tally in Time magazine’s online poll of the most influential people.

It doesn’t take long to come to the conclusion that things didn’t turn out quite as one would expect; I’d never even heard of a handful of the folks who ended up near the top of the list, including the winner, Moot, who both has way more votes than anyone else and a much higher average rating. Read More »