Thursday, September 20, 2012

The growth of supercomputers

The article, "IBM wants to put a watson in your pocket" is about how IBM has developed the Watson, which is a supercomputer smart enough to beat the previous Jeopardy Quiz show champions. IBM is looking to take the Watson a step further and make it into handheld form, so that everyone can own one. This will allow people to have world knowledge at their fingertips. Many different corporations, such as WellPoint, are starting to pick up on Watsons mind-blowing capabilities which will help the company to crunch cancer data.
 This is not IBM’s first supercomputer; about 15 years ago the Deep Blue was created. This was a supercomputer built just to beat Gary Kasparov, world famous chess player, in a game.  After the match Deep blue had won; but there was a turn in events for the rematch, when Kasparov won.  Gary Kasparov feels that computers can’t think, they can just react.  A computer cannot see 20 steps ahead and have the leisure of planning its next move, it can only respond to what it was given.
With all technology, there can be glitches. With Watson’s recent client being WellPoint, it is vital that there are no mistakes in this field. The Watson will eventually be able to read x-rays and give diagnosis for doctors, but what if it misreads the information. The patient could be misled and told the wrong medication to take, which in turn could be fatal. Another downside to supercomputers being so disposable to everyone is that it may have too much knowledge? You may ask how could this be a bad thing? Why would a student want to pay all that money for an education, when anything they will ever need to know is right in their pocket?
 This supercomputer will also have an economic impact on jobs. This could lead to the depletion of professors and universities. For a human to pursue the medical field it would take on average around 15 years. For the Watson, to learn all the medical information that the world has to offer, it would only take two years.  People will become too dependent on their Watson, and will never really learn on their own. Interacting in a classroom setting with peers starts at an early age and continues to adulthood. Throughout this time students are able to learn good communication skills over many years. As people solely rely on their supercomputer to learn, their people skills will worsen from the lack of classroom interaction.
 Although there are a few downsides to the Watson, it could eventually change the world for the better and make people’s lives easier. Being a doctor is a tiresome job with long hours, by the end of the day doctors are often drained. A supercomputer never gets worn out; it works all day, every day. When a person is researching a topic, they will no longer have to take the time to browse the internet; instead they will have the answer in just seconds.

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