I just stumbled on a promo video of IBM’s Watson. It is amazing. This short clip entails so many promises – on different levels. These promises operate not just on the level of prediction of foresight, but also on emulating and surpassing human cognitive abilities, like learning a language faster then any other (biological?) system or knowing every details of every report available. Even the emulation of basic human capabilities, like understanding “euphemisms, idiosyncrasies or complex metaphors” is presented as superseding human capabilities – in this video, the abilities of a little girl.
What’s also striking: Watson is here represented by human persons and their functional position within social structure. Every person in the video clip represents a possible application of the system. The message seems to be: Whatever these persons are doing, we can do it better with machine learning – and we are just getting started. Welcome to the cognitive era.