Should one doubt a computer that can actually decipher human language and answer questions with logic? Some may say an iPad can already do that, ask for a map or web link and the iPad gives it to you, or so we think.
When examining the technology behind Watson via the IBM website, (http://www-943.ibm.com/innovation/us/watson/), it’s easy to see that humans are on the fringes of technology progressing beyond of the point of rational control. Supercomputers that process billions of lines of information in seconds and produce answers resembling human interactions is scary. People have to continually ask themselves, what about the Human Condition? Where do perception, intuition, emotion, and free will fall into the grand scheme of things. Many of these attributes and characteristics are innate to humans, but not computers.
This scenario has played out in movie theaters around the world, made famous by artificially intelligent machines ruling the world with no regard to emotion or human life. I have to keep reminding myself that Artificial Intelligence is just what the name implies, Artificial. Watson is programmed with information, its systems are not cognitive, Watson can only decipher existing information it is programmed with and relies on this information to be conditioned and input into its memory by humans. Watson is not a futuristic learning machine calculating the every move and condition of human existence to plan for world domination or human extinction, so rest easy. What Watson does bring to light is an ageless moral question of right and wrong, where are the ethical or moral guidelines that govern the use of such technology?
There are however many implications for use of this technology around the world:
“The possibilities for enriching our global community and accelerating the pace at which we can exploit and expand human knowledge, solve problems and help each other in ways never before imagined, rests on our ability to bring information technology out of the era of operating in computer terms and into the era of operating in human terms. “ (IBM, 2011)
So the question begging to be answered is, can this technology be utilized here in Baltimore to enhance political or civil systems to benefit the city? Are there implications that this type of technology will benefit cities such as Baltimore in building capacity, both internally and externally?