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Discovering SQL: A Hands-On Guide for Beginners by Alex Kriegel

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ELEMENTARY, MY DEAR WATSON!

A new era of was officially introduced on February 14, 2011 with an IBM Watson computer taking on a “uniquely human” activity — playing Jeopardy games. The machine was named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson (should anyone wonder why it was not named after Sherlock Holmes), and it represents a next giant step towards something that was dubbed “artificial intelligence” in 1956, and was almost exclusively in the domain of science fiction ever since.

For a long time it has been understood that simply to possess information does not equal ability to answer questions, let alone provide intelligent answers. A search engine, even the most advanced one, relies on keywords to search for information; it is up to humans to come up with clever strings of keywords, and it is ultimately a human task to decide whether the information returned constitutes an answer to the question. Watson takes it a step further. It has to figure out the question, deduce the context, and come up with the statistically most-probable answer. This is very different from the Deep Blue computer which beat chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997. The chess game can be reduced to a set of well defined mathematical problems in combinatorics, a very large set to be sure, but ultimately susceptible to the number-crunching power of the computer — no ambiguity, no contextual variations. The IBM Watson had to deal with the uncertainty of human language; it had to interpret metaphors; it had to ...

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