[ExI] The fraudulent claims made by IBM about Watson and AI

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Fri May 27 07:21:57 UTC 2016

On Friday, 27 May 2016, Dave Sill <sparge at gmail.com> wrote:

> http://www.rogerschank.com/fraudulent-claims-made-by-IBM-about-Watson-and-AI
> They are not doing "cognitive computing" no matter how many times they say
> they are
> I was chatting with an old friend yesterday and he reminded me of a
> conversation we had nearly 50 years ago. I tried to explain to him what I
> did for living and he was trying to understand why getting computers to
> understand was more complicated than key word analysis. I explained about
> concepts underlying sentences and explained that sentences used words but
> that people really didn’t use words in their minds except to get to the
> underlying ideas and that computers were having a hard time with that.
> Fifty years later, key words are still dominating the thoughts of people
> who try to get computers to deal with language. But, this time, the key
> word people have deceived the general public by making claims that this is
> thinking, that AI is here, and that, by the way we should be very afraid,
> or very excited, I forget which.
> We were making some good progress on getting computers to understand
> language but, in 1984, AI winter started. AI winter was a result of too
> many promises about things AI could do that it really could not do. (This
> was about promoting expert systems. Where are they now?). Funding dried up
> and real work on natural language processing died too.
> But still people promote key words because Google and others use it to do
> "search". Search is all well and good when we are counting words, which is
> what data analytics and machine learning are really all about. Of course,
> once you count words you can do all kinds of correlations and users can
> learn about what words often connect to each other and make use of that
> information. But, users have learned to accommodate to Google not the other
> way around. We know what kinds of things we can type into Google and what
> we can’t and we keep our searches to things that Google is likely to help
> with. We know we are looking for texts and not answers to start a
> conversation with an entity that knows what we really need to talk about.
> People learn from conversation and Google can’t have one. It can pretend to
> have one using Siri but really those conversations tend to get tiresome
> when you are past asking about where to eat.
> But, I am not worried about Google. It works well enough for our needs.
> What I am concerned about are the exaggerated claims being made by IBM
> about their Watson program. Recently they ran an ad featuring Bob Dylan
> which made laugh, or would have, if had made not me so angry. I will say it
> clearly: Watson is a fraud. I am not saying that it can’t crunch words, and
> there may well be value in that to some people. But the ads are fraudulent.
> Here is something from Ad Week:
> The computer brags it can read 800 million pages per second, identifying
> key themes in Dylan's work, like "time passes" and "love fades."
> Ann Rubin, IBM's vp of branded content and global creative, told Adweek
> that the commercials were needed to help people understand the new world of
> cognitive computing.
> "We're focusing on the advertising here, but this is really more than an
> advertising campaign," Rubin said. "It's a point of view that IBM has, and
> it's going across all of our marketing, our internal communications, how we
> engage sellers and our employees. It's really across everything that we do."
> IBM says the latest series is meant to help a broader audience -
> companies, decision makers and software developers - better understand how
> Watson works. Unlike traditionally programmed computers, cognitive systems
> such as Watson understand, reason, and learn. The company says industries
> such as banking, insurance, healthcare and retail can all benefit.
> Rubin said Watson's abilities "outthink" human brains in areas where
> finding insights and connections can be difficult due to the abundance of
> data.
> "You can outthink cancer, outthink risk, outthink doubt, outthink
> competitors if you embrace this idea of cognitive computing," she said.
> Really? I am a child of the 60s’ and I remember Dylan’s songs well enough.
> Ask anyone from that era about Bob Dylan and no one will tell you his main
> theme was "love fades". He was a protest singer, and a singer about the
> hard knocks of life. He was part of the anti-war movement. Love fades? That
> would be a dumb computer counting words. How would Watson see that many of
> Dylan’s songs were part of the anti-war movement? Does he say anti-war a
> lot? He probably never said it in a song.
> This is from this site
> <http://ultimateclassicrock.com/bob-dylan-protest-songs/?trackback=tsmclip>
> :
> In our No. 1 Bob Dylan protest song, 'The Times They Are a-Changin,' Dylan
> went all out and combined the folk protest movement of the 1960's with the
> civil rights movement. The shorter verses piled upon one another in a
> powerful way, and lyrics like, "There's a battle outside and it is ragin' /
> It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls / For the times they
> are a-changin'," are iconic Dylan statements that manage to transcend the
> times.
> But he doesn't mention Viet Nam or Civil Rights. So Watson wouldn't know
> that he had anything to do with those issues. It is possible to talk about
> something and have the words themselves not be very telling. Background
> knowledge matters a lot. I asked a 20 something about Bob Dylan a few days
> ago and he had never heard of him. He didn’t know much about the 60’s.
> Neither does Watson. You can’t understand words if you don’t know their
> context.
> Suppose I told you that I heard a friend was buying a lot of sleeping
> pills and I was worried. Would Watson say I hear you are thinking about
> suicide? Would Watson suggest we hurry over and talk to our friend about
> their problems? Of course not. People understand in context because they
> know about the world and real issues in people's lives. They don't count
> words.
> Here is more from another site:
> Saying that Bob Dylan <http://ultimateclassicrock.com/tags/bob-dylan/> is
> the father of folk music
> <http://ultimateclassicrock.com/bob-dylans-newport-folk-festival-guitar-discovered/>
> is probably overstepping a bit. However, saying that the vocalist is one of
> the most prominent writers of anti-war and protest songs in the 20th
> century is spot on, thus making him worthy of a Top 10 Bob Dylan Protest
> Songs list. The singer did change his range from anti-establishment to
> country to pop and back to folk again, *and he remains a seminal force*
> <http://ultimateclassicrock.com/bob-dylan-rolling-stones-among-most-collectible-records-of-all-time/>
> for those who rage against "The Man."
> That was written by a human. How do I know? Because Watson can’t draw real
> conclusions by counting words in 800 million pages of text.
> Of course, what upsets me most is not Watson but what IBM actually says.
> From the quote above:
> Unlike traditionally programmed computers, cognitive systems such as
> Watson understand, reason, and learn.
> Ann Rubin, IBM's vp of branded content and global creative, told Adweek
> that the commercials were needed to help people understand the new world of
> cognitive computing.
> I wrote a book called The Cognitive Computer
> <http://www.amazon.com/Cognitive-Computer-Language-Artificial-Intelligence/dp/020106443X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447943815&sr=8-1&keywords=cognitive+computer>
>  in 1984:
> I started a company called Cognitive Systems in 1981. The things I was
> talking about then clearly have not been read by IBM (although they seem to
> like the words I used.) Watson is not reasoning. You can only reason if you
> have goals, plans, ways of attaining them, a comprehension of the beliefs
> that others may have, and a knowledge of past experiences to reason from. A
> point of view helps too. What is Watson’s view on ISIS for example?
> Dumb question? Actual thinking entities have a point of view about ISIS.
> Dog’s don’t but Watson isn't as smart as a dog either. (The dog knows how
> to get my attention for example.)
> I invented a field called Case Based Reasoning in the 80’s which was meant
> to enable computers to compare new situations to old ones and then modify
> what the computer knew as a result. We were able to build some useful
> systems. And we learned a lot about human learning. Did I think we had
> created computers that were now going to outthink people or soon become
> conscious? Of course not. I thought we had begun to create computers that
> would be more useful to people.
> It would be nice if IBM would tone down the hype and let people know what
> Watson can actually do and stop making up nonsense about love fading and
> out thinking cancer. IBM is simply lying now and they need to stop.
> AI winter is coming soon.
To take just one of your examples, what would you say if Watson did
conclude that if your friend was buying a lot of sleeping pills suicide was
a possibility? Would that be evidence of understanding? Would *anything*
that Watson said be evidence of understanding?

Stathis Papaioannou
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