894: Progeny

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Progeny
I tell my children 'it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.' I'm trying to take the edge off their competitive drive to ensure that I can always beat them.
Title text: I tell my children 'it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.' I'm trying to take the edge off their competitive drive to ensure that I can always beat them.

[edit] Explanation

This comic is a reference to IBM's computer Watson that beat humans at Jeopardy (see 1002: Game AIs). The IBM team created a computer that could formulate a response to a Jeopardy-style question. In case you are not familiar, Jeopardy is a game played where the contestants are given the answer to a question, and must devise the question. A question might be "The United States joined this war in 1941" to which the contestant must answer "What is World War II?". When going up against two Jeopardy champions, Watson was able to beat them both (and not too shoddily either).

Megan chimes in that we are "pretty awesome at teaching" which is very true. Humans are the best (on this planet) at teaching other things to do a set of tasks. We train dogs, cats, lizards, birds, other people, and now we are getting quite good at getting a computer, a simple machine completely of our own design, to mimic our own thought patterns and make decisions similar to what we would make.

The title text makes fun of teaching our children values by suggesting we are just trying to hold on to our ability to beat them in something.

[edit] Transcript

[Cueball sits at a computer; Megan stands behind him.]
Cueball: Wow — researchers taught a computer to beat the world's best humans at yet ANOTHER task. Does our species have ANYTHING left to be proud of?
Megan: Well, it sounds like we're pretty awesome at teaching.
Cueball: Huh? What good is THAT?

[edit] Trivia

  • Human discomfort at computers outdoing them in some field is revisited in 1263: Reassuring.
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Discussion

I believe Megan is talking about actual teaching, not programming. Computers can gather data, can analyze data, can learn, and can mimic human behavior. But, they can't teach others what they know. Cueball's response indicates how little value we as a society place on this skill (i.e. look at the salary of a teacher versus an entertainer of any kind). The title text makes fun of teaching our children values by suggesting we are just trying to hold on to our ability to beat them in something. 67.78.183.206 19:34, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Computers can teach each other pretty well, even without human intervention if you turn automatic updates on. Also, there are computers teaching humans now - although they can't really teach them all they know, only the things they have teaching programs for. I think that the amount of things computers can't do is rapidly approaching zero. Luckily, there are still lot of things they do much worse that humans, including teaching or inventing better computers. -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:35, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

I've changed most of the explanation. The first change was that Watson was actually fed a text file containing the question as Trebek was reading it to the human competitors. The game would have been much different if IBM also had to invent a world class speech-to-text system that would then feed into the trivia database. Second change is to why Megan is saying we're good at teaching, programming is a form of teaching: allowing a computer to understand. Third, replaced the title text explanation. lcarsos_a (talk) 19:50, 2 January 2013 (UTC)

Maybe a link to xkcd.com/1002/ would be good? evbneto 18:30, 18 April 2013 (UTC)

You mean link like this? 1002. -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:36, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
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