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Wednesday, 09 January 2013 10:37

IBM accidentally taught Watson to swear

Written by Nick Farrell



Learning Internet made it speak like us


IBM hit a snag when it was trying to train its Watson supercomputer to understand Internet slang.

Eric Brown, a research scientist with IBM says the key to get a computer to pass the Turing test will be to make sure it can understand the subtlety of slang. In an interview with Fortune magazine Brown said he tried to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary which included Internet abbreviations.

The problem was that Watson couldn't distinguish between polite language and swearing. Apparently it picked up some bad habits from reading Wikipedia and started using terms like “bullshit" in an answer to a researcher's query.
Brown developed a filter to keep Watson from swearing but had to  scrape the Urban Dictionary from the computer’s memory.

He said that the trial proves just how thorny it will be to get artificial intelligence to communicate naturally.

Nick Farrell

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