Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I feel like a total idiot

I am here at my laptop reading the usual daily dose of posts on science, technology, medicine genetics, food science, etc. that make me the eternal optimist that I am. Earlier I finished my daily reading of geopolitics, global economics, Grexit, Iran, ISIS, Middle East, oil shortages, famines, US Presidential Elections, etc. that sorely test my belief in optimistic outcomes.

Along the way, with whatever I read, I code posts for subject, interest, and whatever keywords may help me find the post at some later date. I've done it for years. Unable to remember correctly all details I encounter, I resort to coding all I read for retrieval to recall and quote correctly. Some friends think I have a great memory - I wish. I just have a retrieval system designed to support my curiosity of virtually anything that the internet provides. That's a lot. But, I just found a simple system that helps my mediocre memory look smart to those that do not look behind the curtain.

Today I came across news of IBM's Watson  and and many more. Simpy put, I am wasting my time. I am deluding myself about any ability to harvest or categorize knowledge. I am just human and the machine has won.

Along the way I even made the mistake to read how Watson can analyze personality  and then fed one of my posts into its "analytical input box".  My wife and my mother would have not been more spot-on except for being perhaps kinder in their delivery - Watson is a cold brained objectivist for sure.

So, where are we going with this? The pessimists and Luddites  will scream at the machine. Instead I see a day when Watson will be in my cell phone, a kind friend (marketing will require a friendly machine-human interface) that will factually answer my questions not only with facts but with insight. Who knows, Version 2.0 may even answer socratically to lead me along a path of learning. All questions will be answered with zero effort and immediately. The only limit to learning will be our individual curiosity, the last human frontier that no analytical machine will touch. We may discover that curiosity rests where our soul does, one and the same, the truly only-human trait.

Marco Messina 7/22/2015

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