03.19.12

First Watson conquered Jeopardy. Now Dr. Fill is out to kill crosswords.

Is nothing sacred? We all witnessed mankind's defeat to the device known as Watson on our beloved Jeopardy!. Then there was Deep Blue's crushing blow to chessmaster Garry Kasparov's spirits. Now there's Dr. Fill, according to the NY Times. Created by an AI guru and Oxford Ph.D holder, Dr. Fill can complete difficult crosswords in minutes and competed at yesterday's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Brooklyn.

At the tournament, players will get six puzzles to solve on Saturday, and one on Sunday — progressively more difficult. Rankings are determined by accuracy and speed. The top three finishers enter a playoff with an eighth puzzle on Sunday afternoon, competing for the $5,000 prize. Game challenges are not just fun and games, but serious science that has opened the door to practical applications.

“Games are a great motivator for artificial intelligence — they push things forward,” said David Ferrucci, the I.B.M. researcher who led the development of Watson, the “Jeopardy!” computer champion. “But what really matters is where it is taking us.”

Fortuantely, computers lack imagination (for now!) and did not place. Phew!

[via NY Times] [img]