‘Watson’ Needed Filter for Computer Curser Problem

Jan 11, 2013 12:16pm
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IBM Installs A 'Swear Filter' in Their Watson Computer After Learning The Urban Dictionary Image credit: Ben Hider/Getty Images

IBM’s Watson–the super computer used to sweep Jeopardy! contestants– became such a foul mouthed computer after ingesting the Urban Dictionary it required a swear filter.

In an effort to “humanize” the super computer when playing with contestants, IBM research scientist Eric Brown decided to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary, an online dictionary used to define slang and pop culture lingo like “hot mess” and “OMG”.

The concept was to have Watson interact with researchers and contestants on an informal level with conversational communication. In an interview with Fortune, Brown said, “As humans, we don’t realize just how ambiguous our communication is.”

The effort backfired when Watson responded to a researcher’s question with the word, “Bullshit.” Another misstep for the smart computer happened when it began incorporating crass language into its replies. The super computer wasn’t capable of censoring itself when it came to using popular slang. As a result, Watson’s bad behavior led to IBM’s decision to install a “swear filter” into the computer’s software.

Now, the smart computer will continue to work under its intended purpose–to help those learn and research minus the occasional profanities.

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