WoD – Watson vs. Me

A mini-continuation on the Watson meme.  So I was flipping through channels on the radio the other day, and I identified a song in an instant.  Literally it took like 2/10 of a second (I think it was Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child.  Yes, Bootylicious.  It actually has a unique sound, thus helping to make it easily/quickly identifiable for us humans.)

Which got me thinking – how could Watson ever be faster than that?!  No way, right?  

In raw speed, of course a computer is faster in doing so many calculations and determinations.  So, yes way.  

But when it comes to things like rapid identification of something specific, I think our computers (i.e. our brains) win.  I am always amazed at our brains’ abilities to process huge amounts of information and home in on a precise answer or outcome so rapidly.  Sort of like identifying Destiny’s Child in 0.2 seconds out of the literally millions of songs out there and the (probably) millions of songs we have heard over our lifetimes.  

Think about these few things — scanning Madison Square Garden for someone sitting on the other side of the stadium.  We don’t realize or notice it, but our brains are actually seeing and taking in EVERY SINGLE PERSON and every stitch of clothes, but we throw out so much of the info equally as fast.  Or think of finding a skimming rock on a beach filled with thousands of little rocks.  Our eyes dart like lightning to find just that one perfect skimmer, but we actually see each and every one.  Or think of a treeline across a lake – we can spot a deformed branch on one tree out of a thousand trees in our view, in a matter of a second or two.  

Try this: right now, look out from your PC and very very fast just scan the room (or look out a window) as fast as you can.  If I asked you to do it and look just for the color of (e.g.) the door knob across the room, you could do it in an instant.  But you actually saw so much raw information!  Your eyes and brain took it ALL in, in fact.  But you threw it all out equally as fast, because none of it mattered except the color of the door knob.  

It is all about the filters.  With proper filters, i.e. when we know what we are looking for, our brains are amazing machines.  The way we build computers, however, is distinctly different.  It has been all about raw horsepower.  More and more processing power.  So the way a computer solves for Bootylicious is by grabbing the entire universe of music, then maybe matching up that 0.2 second snippet against the billions of 0.2 second snippets of every musical piece out there, until a match is found.  Our brains don’t do that at all – we reject superfluous information almost instantly, allowing as much of our “processing power” to be as focused as possible on the one task at hand.  Personally, I think we should build computers to work the way our brains do.  And perhaps we are even beginning to do this.

This is all a bit hard to describe, I know, so I will stop here.  But today’s WoD is just to help us all pause and think about how we… think.  It is a truly amazing and powerful thing.


A TAYVL ZOL IM KHAPN (a TAIvuhl zohl ihm KHAHPn)

A curse (literally: May the devil catch him!)

A tayvl zol im khapn on that LeBron James!


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