[SATLUG] OT: Linux super computer to compete on Jeopardy

Bruce Dubbs bruce.dubbs at gmail.com
Sun Feb 20 12:30:43 CST 2011

Howard Haradon wrote:
> While IBM's achievement with Watson rightly commands
> great respect, a couple of items ought to be kept in mind:
> 1.  Watson got its questions as text scripts in electronic
> form so it was doing no speech recognition.  While this
> was briefly mentioned on the TV program, I think many
> viewers thought Watson was replying to Trebeck's voice.
> On the show it appeared that Watson was responding to
> a spoken voice.

I would think that the other players read ahead of the spoken question. 
  They don't have to listen either.

> 2.  The technology used in Watson is far more expensive
> than what can be employed in the average doctor's office.
> For this forseeable future its capability would be available
> only thru some kind of time sharing system or at the largest
> hospitals.

While that's true, each office does not need it's own system.  It could 
easily be hosted in a remote site and have use shared.  Additionally, 
the software has been developed.  As in almost all computer 
applications, the initial cost is high, but the cost of reproduction is 
relatively low.

There are numerous supercomputers around the country that are 
significantly more powerful than Watson.  IIRC, Watson had about 2800 
cores.  UT's Ranger has 62,976 cores.  Lonestar has 22,656 cores.  LSU's 
Queenbee has 5440 cores.  There are numerous others -- Illinois, 
Colorado, Clemson, etc.

If there is a commercial use, the systems will be made available.  The 
most obvious uses are where there are lots of data that needs to be 
correlated.  I can think of medical diagnosis, legal research, patent 
search including prior art, financial analysis (e.g. US Budget), general 
search (Google), etc.

> BTW, there will surely be a big lawsuit over "Dr. Watson"
> as I'm sure MS has the term copyrighted.

I do not believe a short 2-word phrase can be copyrighted.  It can be a 
trademark, but since 'Dr Watson' was invented by Conan Doyle around 
1850, I doubt that it is a major issue.  IBM didn't add the title 'Dr' 
and the MS application was a debugger, which is somewhat different from 
a general search engine.

   -- Bruce

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