TRAVEL&LEISURE TODAY IS ABOUT COMPUTERS; BIG, SMALL..& 'WATSON'
 

[PHOTOS OF Thomas Watson, Jr., IBM 1914–1993) was the president of IBM from 1952 to 1971 and the eldest son of Thomas J. Watson, IBM's first president. He led the company into a period where it dominated the new computer industry. Among many honors, he was called "the greatest capitalist in history" and one of "100 most influential people of the 20th century".]

CANADA, FEBRUARY 17, 2011 (PHNO INFOTECH) Once upon a time, in a galaxy seems so far away, computers are called Mainframes. [photo at left is the ibm704 mainframe computer]  Of course whenever we talk about computers we are really talking about the computer system 'server' which is usually or mostly the 'computer processor'.

Shown in the photo at left, is the 1960 UNIVAC Mainframe computer. The picture  shows from your right to left: the main processor cabinet (UNIVAC 9400); the system's console (showing magnetic tapes); the 3 Tape Control Units, UNISERVO 12 UNISERVO 16 UNISERVO 12; the Disk Control Unit (w/ disc drives smaller than tape discs and the heads); the high speed printer of type 768 (printing capacity of 26 lines per second and features 635 kg); and the 2 disk drives of type 8425 a punch card reader. Following its replacement by new hardware, the system was given to a school in Cologne where it served for many years helping the computer science teachers. In September 2005 it found its final place in the Museum of Computer & Communication Technology - the Technikum29 based in Germany.

These first computers used vacuum tubes for circuitry and magnetic drums for memory, and were often enormous, taking up entire rooms. They were very expensive to operate and in addition to using a great deal of electricity, generated a lot of heat, which was often the cause of malfunctions.

Today, computer manufacturers don't always use the term mainframe to refer to mainframe computers. Instead, most have taken to calling any commercial-use computer— large or small— a server, with the mainframe simply being the largest type of server in use today.

IBM®, for example, refers to its latest mainframe as the IBM System z9® server. In this case, the term mainframe means computers that can support thousands of applications and input/output devices to simultaneously serve thousands of users.

The history of computer development is often referred to in reference to the different generations of computing devices.
Each generation of computer is characterized by a major technological development that fundamentally changed the way computers operate, resulting in increasingly smaller, cheaper, more powerful and more efficient and reliable devices.

THE SILICON ERA & THE MICROPROCESSORS

The microprocessor brought the fourth generation of computers, as thousands of integrated circuits were built onto a single silicon chip. What in the first generation filled an entire room could now fit in the palm of the hand. The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971, located all the components of the computer—from the central processing unit and memory to input/output controls—on a single chip.

THE DESKTOPS & LAPTOPS

In 1981 IBM introduced its first computer for the home user, and in 1984 Apple introduced the Macintosh. Microprocessors also moved out of the realm of desktop computers and into many areas of life as more and more everyday products began to use microprocessors. As these small computers became more powerful, they could be linked together to form networks, which eventually led to the development of the Internet. Fourth generation computers also saw the development of GUIs, the mouse and handheld devices.

START OF THE DIGITAL AGE

The digital age is started in second millennium, and it means that every company, shop, or bar, have at least one computer. When we say, this is age of...,first we think, technology of that age. Digital age is started, (digital photos, digital computers, digital books, digital airplanes and so on...).

The schools have digital structures, on knowledge, i mean and we do not write just on paper, we can write on a computer, on phones, PDA and many new devices today. Even new generations of cars have now auto-control for when you become sleepy on the road. 

THE TABLETS WAR

Apple’s iPad has revolutionized the digital race, sending rivals scrambling to catch up as if the iPod never happened. At the end of 2010, this re-emerging market is primed with competitors bristling for a showdown. And 2011 will see the faceoff. “The Tablet Wars” may sound like a gonzo episode starring Hunter S. Thompson and Timothy Leary, but both of those men are dead. And the tablets are very much in the here and now.

Death of a (PC) salesman?

Many buyers are choosing tablet computers over laptops. Steve Jobs & Co. shifted 300,000 iPads on launch day, back in April 2010. More than three million of the digi-slates slid off the shelves over the next 80 days. Optimistic estimates place the total sales volume for 2010 at about eight million.

Everyone else has a lot of catching up to do. Although competitors at least have the chance to right some of the iPad’s wrongs before Apple releases its next-generation edition in 2011. Among the iPad’s list of “cons” are its weight (too heavy, more than half a kilo); lack of camera or support for Adobe Flash; and its eye-straining LCD screen, “which is like staring at a light bulb,” according to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper’s tech-geek guy, Charlie Brooker. However, iPad owners remain smug, with 72 percent of those recently surveyed claiming to be “very satisfied.” In July 2010, a Barclays Capital analyst predicted Apple would sell about 20 million iPads in 2011. [Source of this report mostly from IBM]

THE IBM WATSON

[PHOTO - Watson, powered by IBM POWER7, is a work-load optimized system]

Over the past four years, a team of IBM scientists have set out to accomplish a grand challenge – build a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence. The computing system named Watson, will compete on Jeopardy! against the show’s two most successful and celebrated contestants -- Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter -- on February 14, 15 and 16.

Jeopardy! provides the ultimate challenge because the game’s clues involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not.

Watson's ability to understand the meaning and context of human language, and rapidly process information to find precise answers to complex questions, holds enormous potential to transform how computers help people accomplish tasks in business and their personal lives. Watson will enable people to rapidly find specific answers to complex questions. The technology could be applied in areas such as healthcare, for accurately diagnosing patients, to improve online self-service help desks, to provide tourists and citizens with specific information regarding cities, prompt customer support via phone, and much more.

IBM's Watson is a deep analytics and natural language processing computer that has tackled the issue of processing and recognizing ambiguous words, allowing it to compete on Jeopardy!

IBM created artificial intelligence with Watson by using natural language understanding, therefore enhancing its innovative question answering ability. .

IBM researchers show love for 'Jeopardy' champion Watson by Daniel Terdiman February 16, 2011 9:29 PM PST CNET

[ PHOTO- WATSON ON THE JEOPARDY CHALLENGE - A large group of researchers watched their hero, Watson, take on the best 'Jeopardy' players in history last  Wednesday night at the Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. (Credit: author Daniel Terdiman/CNET) SAN JOSE, Calif.]

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - I'm going to just come out and admit it--I was rooting for the humans.

By "humans," of course, I mean Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, two men who on the one hand are the greatest champions in the history of "Jeopardy" and who on the other just ended up getting their butts handed to them at the game by a computer that didn't even seem to know that Toronto isn't in the United States.

In case you were somehow in a cabin in the mountains with no Internet access and no TV over the last few weeks and don't know what I'm talking about, I'm referring of course to the latest IBM Grand Challenge--Big Blue's development of a supercomputer known as Watson that was intended to be able to beat the world's best "Jeopardy" players at a game centered around one of the biggest problems in computing: understanding and parsing natural language.

Over the last three days, Watson's battle against Jennings and Rutter played out on national TV in a two-game match. May the best, er, man win.

Though I wasn't able to be in the room at IBM Research in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., when the matches were played last month, I did get invited to the final night party this evening at IBM's Almaden Research Center here, and let me tell you, though I was in a roomful of actual human beings, not many of them shared my preference for a contestant with DNA. These folks were definitely in Watson's corner, tinny text-to-speech voice and all.

In the end, they all got the last laugh. As you've no doubt heard by now, Watson out and out dominated Jennings and Rutter, finishing the two games with a total of $77,147, more than the two humans' $24,000 (Jennings) and $21,600 (Rutter) combined.

So I guess Jennings' tongue-in-cheek comment "I, for one, welcome our new computer overlords," which he wrote along with his Final Jeopardy question, was somewhat appropriate.

Roomful of researchers

When I got the invitation to tonight's festivities, I accepted readily. I knew it would be a lot of fun to watch the prime-time conclusion of IBM's four-year effort in the same room as a large group of people who might actually be able to understand the complex science, technology, and math behind the Watson project.

Of course, many of those researchers brought their families with them to watch the final match, and some of the kids may have been more enthusiastic than any of the employees.

"My daughter feels 50 percent more geeky" than she used to, said James Kaufman, a research manager at the Almaden facility. To which the daughter, Sarah Kaufman, added, "I was pretty geeky to start with."

[Watson research manager Eric Brown spent part of the evening answering questions about the project and signing autographs. He also posed for a few pictures. (Photo Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)]

The evening began with coffee and popcorn outside the research center's auditorium, and on hand was a surprise guest--Eric Brown, Watson research manager at Yorktown Heights, who happened to be in town for another meeting and decided to stick around and regale the crowd with some tales of the project.

Standing outside the auditorium, Brown was answering questions and signing autographs. If you think about it, it's probably a pretty rare thing for an otherwise unknown IBM employee to be signing autographs, but here he was a rock star.

One kid came up to him for an autograph, and Brown said to him, "Are you going to be a computer scientist when you grow up? Because, you know, when you're a computer scientist, you get to go on TV. It's really quite glamorous."

To Brown, being able to watch the finale with a group of fellow researchers was a very different experience than being with members of the general public. Yet, he said that everywhere he's gone as an ambassador for the Watson project, he's been struck by the high level of public excitement. Still, here at Almaden, he knew that the audience would bring "a different eye" to the show.

Confidence

To me, one of the most interesting things about watching the two matches among Watson, Jennings, and Rutter was seeing the little display at the bottom of the screen in which viewers could see not only Watson's top three potential answers but also the percentage of confidence the computer had in each.

To Brown, that last element is one of the most important parts of the entire project. "What [Watson] really is," Brown said, "is a demonstration of the technology. And what we really want people to think about is [that Watson has to] come up with an answer buried in a [natural language] concept, not only the right answer, but confidence in the answer."

Strangely, there were times during the two matches when Watson's confidence in what turned out to be the right answer was extremely low. At least once, Watson pegged what turned out to be the right answer at just 12 percent confidence and didn't even bother to buzz in. That struck me as odd.

But to James Kaufman, that wasn't surprising, given that in order to come up with an answer, Watson had to balance several different algorithms. Most of the time it worked and quite well as evidenced by the computer's resounding victory. But sometimes the computer seemed very off-kilter.

Another thing that didn't surprise Kaufman was how well the computer did, even matched up against trivia powerhouses like Jennings and Rutter. "I know the guys [on the] Watson" team, Kaufman said, alluding to those researchers' across-the-board genius-level intelligence.

What did surprise Kaufman was how, depending on the topic at hand, the amount of time that Watson sometimes took to answer a question. "That struck me as almost human," he said. "It was almost hesitation."

Kaufman said that he really enjoyed being able to watch Watson take on the champions and do so well, even as the computer sometimes made silly mistakes, such as its answer of Toronto to the first-match Final Jeopardy question about U.S. cities. But mainly, Watson showed off what was an extremely impressive display of computing prowess, one that now has to be measured right up against IBM's Deep Blue's victory over chess world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

"I spoke to a colleague," Kaufman said, "who said that the goal [of the Watson project] was to create the computer on 'Star Trek.' They're moving the needle in that direction, and I think they did it."

'Marry that computer'

[Sarah Kaufman, daughter of research manager James Kaufman, posed with a sign touting the Watson match. (Photo Credit: Daniel Terdiman/CNET)]

Throughout the evening, IBM Silicon Valley human resources manager Alexa MacDonald fired up the crowd with a series of IBM- and "Jeopardy"-related questions. One showed how closely the group had been paying attention to the project. When MacDonald asked what the correct answer to the first match Final Jeopardy question was--the very same question that Watson botched by responding with "Toronto," about half the room shouted out "Chicago!"

To Andy Hood, a technician specialist at Almaden who with a steady stream of fist-pumping cheers, loud exhortations to the screen, and general energetic support of Watson may have been the most enthusiastic member of the crowd, the outcome of the matches was never in doubt. "I believed that Watson was going to crush [Jennings and Rutter]," Hood said. "He's just got way more information available."

But teenager Sarah Kaufman may have been the one who Watson may most want to meet. "I want to marry that computer," she said in all seriousness after the computer had finished destroying its merely human opponents

THE AUTHOR:

Daniel Terdiman is a staff writer at CNET News covering games, Net culture, and everything in between



Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-20032547-52.html#ixzz1EEc44ejO

Daniel Terdiman is a staff writer at CNET News covering games, Net culture, and everything in between



Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-20032547-52.html#ixzz1EEc44ejO

Daniel Terdiman
E-mail Daniel Terdiman
Daniel Terdiman is a staff writer
at CNET News covering games,
Net culture, and everything in between.

Daniel Terdiman is a staff writer at CNET News covering games, Net culture, and everything in between



Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13772_3-20032547-52.html#ixzz1EEc44ejO

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