volume Cl number 44 « the official student newspaper at the university of alberta www.thegatewayonline.ca ♦ thursday, march 31, 2011
The Gateway discusses
the issue of suicide
among young adults in
the final installment of
our mental health series.
FEATURE, PAGES 16-17
A QUIET SUBTLETY A man in Indonesia makes cloth prints in one of the winning entries in The Gateway Literary Contest. To see the others, check pages 12-15.
U of A Studio Theatre
takes a closer look into
the enigmatic work of
A&E, PAGE 20
The Gateway talks to
Mother Mothers Ryan
Guldemond about the
unexpected meaning he’s
found in the band's lyrics.
A&E, PAGE 19
IBM researcher shows off
Watson s complex innards
In February. IBM’s “Watson" super¬
computer defeated two jeopardy!
champions. On Monday. Watson
researcher James Fan explained to a U
of A audience exactly how they man¬
aged to do it.
The idea for the project came from
an IBM executive, who had to con¬
vince a team of researchers to take on
the huge task. In 2007. the original QA
machine fell well below the perfor¬
mance of a typical Jeopardy! winner.
"What computers find hard is
natural language. Jeopardy! is in
this domain, and gives us a chal¬
lenge. It helps us to produce a cal¬
culable. novel way to measure the
drive in technology, to measure the
progress.” Fan said.
Watson is built with a knowledge
daialiase of 200 million pages of
raw text, but a basic keyword search
cannot cope with the complex seman¬
tics in a Jeopardy! clue. Watson instead
uses several algorithms for many types
of evidence, such as temporal reason¬
ing. statistical paraphrasing, and geo¬
The hundreds of gigabytes of data
that comprise the knowledge set and
algorithms are all stored within 2.880
computer cores, which allows Watson
to compute a series of likely answers in
two to six seconds, rather than in the
two hours it would take with a single
2.6 gigahertz core.
Each "candidate answer" is given a
confidence, and if this figure is above
a pre-determined threshold, Watson
will ring in and give an answer in the
game show. The threshold changes
throughout the game—if Watson has
a big lead, the threshold will be high to
minimize risk, if lie's lagging behind.
Watson will live more dangerously.
While some human strategy is
built into Watson, he does have some
disadvantages compares! to his fleshy
“We can hear Watson speaking [...]
but Watson cannot hear other play¬
ers’ answers. If another player gels
the right answer. Jeopardy! sends the
answer back to Watson. But if a player
gets rhe wrong answer, Watson has no
idea what ir was." Fan explained.
PLEASE SEE WATSON ♦ PAGE 5
text harder to
Reading comprehension from a smart¬
phone screen is as low as half of that
when reading from a standard desktop
monitor, according to a recent study by
a University of Alberta research team.
Janies Miller, professor of electri¬
cal and computer engineering and a
member of the team that conducted
the study, said tliai quirks inher¬
ent to smartphones and how people
read from them means that mobile
content providers need to develop
smartphone-specific versions of their
material if they want to have it prop¬
erly understood by users.
’’People tend to read better on
[paper] than on [desktop computers],
and when you just drop down again,
you’re making much more visual
demands," Miller said.
The study focused specifically on
privacy policies used by websites such
as Facelxtok and Google. Using a Cloze
test — a standard test of comprehen¬
sion that omits words from a document
at regular intervals and asks subjects
to reinsert the correct word — Miller
and his team found that comprehen¬
an iPhone-sized screen was rated at +8
percent when compare to the same
policy read on a desktop monitor.
PLEASE SEE IPHONE ♦ PAGE 3