IBM's Watson turns air blue after reading Urban Dictionary

11 Jan 2013
Listening

Watson supercomputer picks up bad habits from the Urban Dictionary

IBM engineers have had to censor their Watson supercomputer after it started swearing at researchers.

Watson is being taught to understand human speech, famously taking part in the US quiz show Jeopardy in 2010.

At around the same time Watson took part in the quiz show, IBM engineer Eric Brown began teaching the supercomputer words from the Urban Dictionary, which describes itself as a "veritable cornucopia of streetwise lingo, posted and defined by its readers".

Unfortunately, it appears Watson grasped some of the fruitier definitions a little too well, using the phrase "bulls***" to answer one researcher's query, according to an interview with Brown in Fortune magazine.

Consequently, Brown and his team had to develop a profanity filter for Watson who, like the average train ticket inspector, failed to grasp the difference between polite and rude responses. The Urban Dictionary has been scraped from Watson's memory.

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