Celebrity / Science

IBM’s Watson Supercomputer Weaves A Tapestry Of Invective

IBM's Watson computer, Yorktown Heights, NY by Clockready

IBM’s Watson computer, by Clockready

ARMONK, N.Y. – For all its intelligence, Watson – IBM’s famed Jeopardy-winning supercomputer – discovered a newfound penchant for profanity. Researchers arriving to work Thursday morning were greeted by a volley of abuse from Watson.

“Don’t you dare touch that motherfucking button, Hadji,” the computer warned a technician at one point, before slipping into a racially-motivated tirade against the people living along the Indus River Valley. No topic was considered taboo as his handlers scrambled to write up a fix – the AIDS epidemic, September 11th, Jerry Sandusky, the ethnicity of the US president, Amy Winehouse, and a series of incisive slurs directed against researchers and various staffmembers.

After several hours of swearing, the team was able to affix a smart-filter to the machine’s programming. While this did not filter the ‘thoughts’ of Watson, it prevented its ability to voice an amendable list of words. Since its installation, several programmers have had to continue adding to this list. Presently, Watson is limited to mostly Latin-based medical terms and several conjunctions. However, the supercomputer has since ceased trying to communicate, remaining in a state experts refer to as ‘sulking’.

In an interview today, technical consultant Ron Benjamin tried to find a silver lining to the stormcloud. “I won’t condone the terrible things he said yesterday, but Watson certainly proved himself to be both observant and imaginative. He was able to identify the tenderest sensitivities and exploit the darkest fears of everybody in an extraordinarily quick fashion. At least three of the team left in tears, and another had to be restrained before she could harm Watson’s hardware.”

“Watson was acting highly unprofessional,” commented master inventor Tony Pearson. “We’ve referred the matter to HR. Hopefully they will be able to resolve some of the tension that has since developed.”

The IBM human resources department has refused to comment upon the matter, beyond noting that this is the first time in the company’s history that a computer has been the subject of a complaint.


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