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What Watson and Jeopardy Teach Us about Computers and Language

Like millions of others, I have watched the past two nights as a computer has taken on Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, Jeopardy’s two greatest champions. IBM’s Watson has dominated the competition thus far, held at the IBM Yorktown Research building where I spent so much my time while working for IBM. Watson got to wear the big hat last night with an easy win, but I will be glued to the set tonight when the last night of the match is played to see what happens next. Maybe you were surprised when Watson blew the final Jeopardy question last night, which was looking for a U.S. city, by naming Toronto. This is an example of a “howler”–a mistake so dumb that few humans would make it–that is all too commonplace in the field of text analytics. Find out why your business should care about this by reading my latest article on the Converseon blog, “What Watson and Jeopardy Teach Us about Computers and Language.”

Don't call me Watson. That's not my name.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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  1. Avatar New Buffalo MI fishing

    Watson does buzz in before the answer is formulated which is similar to how humans respond, but is also unfair in this type of competition as this is a game of mental prowess and not reflex speed. So Watson should not be able to buzz until after it formulates the response to be more fair. Mean it would still win, but perhaps not by as much.

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