Watson Wins!

Okay, so it’s only a practice round but, nonetheless, it’s pretty damn impressive. Just remember, these aren’t ordinary Jeopardy! Champions that Watson is beating like a drum, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter are the top two all time Jeopardy! Champions.


Computer beats Jeopardy! champs – is world domination far behind?

IBM recently created a supercomputer named Watson that will compete against humans in the “Jeopardy!: IBM Challenge.”

The other two contestants? Previous “Jeopardy!” champions Ken Jennings, who won 74 consecutive matches, and Brad Rutter, who won a record-breaking $3.3 million as a contestant. The televised match will air in February, but today IBM offered a teaser in a three-round test battle.

Watson has been in the works for approximately four years. It is powered by 10 racks of IBM servers and has 15 terabytes of RAM. However, Google or KGB are no help to the machine, as it’s not connected to the Internet. Instead, it gets its information from myriad encyclopedias, dictionaries, books, and other sources of information it has digested. According to IBM, Watson has access to the equivalent of 200 million pages of content.

Watson also works just like a human contestant would: he has a buzzer and answers in the form of a question. Although as a bonus for the audience, the top three answers that Watson believes are correct are projected on a screen, giving insight into its decision-making process.

The results of the today’s match shouldn’t be too surprising. Tech blog Engadget.com
reports that no question went answered incorrectly by any of the contestants, but the computer beat the human champs, as Watson led with $4,400, Jennings was second with $3,400, and Rutter rounded out the scoring with $1,200.

See also:
IBM’s Watson supercomputer destroys all humans in Jeopardy practice round (video!)
IBM’s Jeopardy supercomputer beats humans in practice bout
IBM’s Watson wins Jeopardy practice round: Can humans hang?
Are You Smarter Than A Computer The Size Of 10 Refrigerators?
Machine Bests Man in “Jeopardy!” Practice Round
Domo arigato, Mr. Watson: IBM computer takes on ‘Jeopardy’
Jeopardy! supercomputer: Is the next game show champ a machine?
The computer wore Jeopardy’s buzzer
Computer wins first test against 2 ‘Jeopardy!’ champs
The DeepQA Project
Watson Research Center
I’ll Take Machines That Play Jeopardy For $500, Trebek

Did you watch the way Watson destroyed those two hapless human Jeopardy! champions? Instead of Jeapardy! trivia, they should stuff Watson full of all the known economic, military, scientific, and political knowledge.

/I’d vote for Watson over Obama for President in 2012, America would be a much safer and more prosperous country

International Man Of Misery Goes To Manhattan

Viktor Bout, the so called “Merchant of Death”, is now in U.S. custody and, if the Russians weren’t already angry enough, now they’re really pissed off.

Accused international arms dealer pleads not guilty

An accused international arms dealer, now in U.S. custody for allegedly agreeing to sell millions of dollars of weapons to a Colombian narco-terrorist organization, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a U.S. courtroom to four counts of terror-related crimes.

Viktor Bout, the alleged dealer, could face life in prison if found guilty, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney said.

The charges he faces are conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals; conspiracy to kill U.S. officers or employees; conspiracy to acquire and use an anti-aircraft missile; and conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. In this case, that would be the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or FARC.

And why might the Russians be upset by this?

Viktor Bout: Whose Secrets Does the Alleged Arms Dealer Know?

According to one defense adviser to the Russian government who served in the upper ranks of the KGB throughout the 1980s, Bout knows at least enough to embarrass, if not incriminate, a lot of Russia’s political brass. “Bout’s background is in military intelligence, so he can explain who does what in those structures,” the defense adviser says, asking to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of what he calls “this dirty business.” But such revelations, he adds, would not make for very exciting news, at least not for the CIA. “The much more worrying factor is [Bout’s] knowledge of the arms trade, which is a very gray area. He knows about military stockpiles, and he can explain which of our brother-nations are given access to what kinds of weapons, what kinds of bribes are given for access to these weapons, how international rules are skirted, and so on. On top of that, he has a lot of associates he can name, because you don’t conduct a business like this on your own. Of course this is all very messy.”

See also:
Arms Secret Dealer
Feds: Russian arms suspect not beyond law’s reach
‘Merchant of Death’ wanted clients who killed Americans: feds
Viktor Bout: Capturing “The Merchant of Death”
Russian weapons accused in court
Russia insists Bout given fair trial – FM
Russia demands fair trial for Bout
Bout Has ‘No Secrets’ To ShareRussia: Arms suspect has ‘no military secrets’
Russia: Arms suspect has ‘no military secrets’
Bout told Moscow ‘tried to assassinate him’ – spouse (update 1)
US captors of alleged arms dealer Bout detail Thailand sting
Thai government ordered Bout’s extradition in advance – source
Russia says U.S. offers deal to arms suspect Bout
Accused arms dealer claims U.S. tried to force a confession
Merchant of Death ‘not for sale’

It’s pretty obvious that Bout knows quite a lot about trafficking in Russian/Soviet arms and, given his track record, he’s a very bad actor and life in prison is too lenient a punishment for what he’s done. The Russians should be plenty nervous about what he might say and who he might incriminate. After all, Viktor was trying to sell anti-aircraft missiles, you don’t get those just anywhere, you need serious military and political connections.

But we need to be careful with this prosecution and be ready for blowback.

/There is a heavy price to pay for dealing with Lord of War

Enough Already!

It hasn’t even been 24 hours and this is getting way out of control.

Hatch’s Tribute to Kennedy in Song

Much has been written about Sen. Kennedy’s reach across the political aisle. One of his closest friends on the Republican side of that aisle, Sen. Orrin Hatch, posted a song he wrote as a tribute to Sen. Kennedy on his YouTube page today.

Chris Matthews Designates Obama as a Kennedy: ‘Barack Is Now the Last Brother’

MSNBC host Chris Matthews appeared three times on Wednesday’s Today show to lionize Sen. Ted Kennedy, and twice he promoted Barack Obama as the “last brother” of the Kennedy political tradition. He tried to clarify a little in his appearance in the 10 am hour: “I don’t mean that in an ethnic sense or a black sense. I mean a brother of the Kennedy tradition. And I think he’s the new brother, not that last brother.”

‘Win One for Teddy,’ Say Dems Pushing for Health Reform

Democrats are hoping that the memory of Sen. Ted Kennedy will revive the Democratic Party’s flagging push for health care reform.

You’ve heard of ‘win one for the Gipper’? There is going to be an atmosphere of ‘win one for Teddy,'” Ralph G. Neas, the CEO of the liberal National Coalition on Health Care, told ABC News.

Democrats are hoping that Kennedy’s influence in death may be even stronger than it was when he was alive as they push for President Obama’s top domestic priority. Democratic officials hope that invoking Kennedy’s passion for the issue will counter slippage in support for heatlh care reform.

Geez, from all slobbering on the TV today, you’d think that the Sea Lion of the Senate was the most wonderful, sainted human being ever to walk the earth. Nevermind that Teddy left Mary Jo Kopechne to suffocate in the back of his Oldsmobile at Chappaquiddick. And a couple other blasts from Kennedy’s past that you won’t hear a peep about in all the wall to wall, 24/7 sugar coated TV tributes are Teddy’s associations with the IRA and the KGB.

Some hero.

/RIP Ted, now get on with the funeral and bury him

The End Is Near

Russian Scholar Says U.S. Will Collapse Next Year

If you’re inclined to believe Igor Panarin, and the Kremlin wouldn’t mind if you did, then President Barack Obama will order martial law this year, the U.S. will split into six rump-states before 2011, and Russia and China will become the backbones of a new world order.

Panarin might be easy to ignore but for the fact that he is a dean at the Foreign Ministry’s school for future diplomats and a regular on Russia’s state-guided TV channels. And his predictions fit into the anti-American story line of the Kremlin leadership.

“There is a high probability that the collapse of the United States will occur by 2010,” Panarin told dozens of students, professors and diplomats Tuesday at the Diplomatic Academy — a lecture the ministry pointedly invited The Associated Press and other foreign media to attend.

The prediction from Panarin, a former spokesman for Russia’s Federal Space Agency and reportedly an ex-KGB analyst, meshes with the negative view of the U.S. that has been flowing from the Kremlin in recent years, in particular from Vladimir Putin.

Putin, the former president who is now prime minister, has likened the United States to Nazi Germany’s Third Reich and blames Washington for the global financial crisis that has pounded the Russian economy.

Panarin didn’t give many specifics on what underlies his analysis, mostly citing newspapers, magazines and other open sources.

He also noted he had been predicting the demise of the world’s wealthiest country for more than a decade now.

. . .

It wasn’t clear how persuasive the 20-minute lecture was. One instructor asked Panarin whether his predictions more accurately describe Russia, which is undergoing its worst economic crisis in a decade as well as a demographic collapse that has led some scholars to predict the country’s demise.

Panarin dismissed that idea: “The collapse of Russia will not occur.”

But Alexei Malashenko, a scholar-in-residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center who did not attend the lecture, sided with the skeptical instructor, saying Russia is the country that is on the verge of disintegration.

“I can’t imagine at all how the United States could ever fall apart,” Malashenko told the AP.

See also:
Igor N. Panarin
Igor Panarin
As if Things Weren’t Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.
Professor Igor Panarin: When America fell to pieces the shouting was outrageous
Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs
KGB
Alexey Malashenko
Carnegie Moscow Center

Nothing like a heaping helping of anti-U.S. propaganda to keep the Russian population whipped up and keep their minds off Russia’s precarious economic predicament. As they say, once KGB, always KGB.

/I wonder if Vegas or Ladbrooke are offering odds on Panarin’s ludicrous prediction fantasy, I’d bet several grand against it