Last August I made several predictions about Linux and one of them, #3, was about Linux and x86 processors. I said, in part:
As people learn more about how Linux runs on different kinds of machines, this strong association of Linux with x86 will diminish. On the other hand, because Linux will show up in more and more places but hidden by a service interface or custom UI, you’ll be using it more but won’t know it.
Yesterday, like many of you, I read about IBM’s project to create software that can compete effectively with humans on the popular game Jeopardy!. Some stories about this on the web include:
- New York Times: “Computer Program to Take On ‘Jeopardy!’”
- Times Online: “IBM computer to compete in TV quiz show”
- PC World: “Meet Watson, IBM Supercomputer and Future ‘Jeopardy’ Champ”
Much of the media coverage was focused on the artificial intelligence aspects of the project. The New York Times article said, for example:
The team is aiming not at a true thinking machine but at a new class of software that can “understand” human questions and respond to them correctly. Such a program would have enormous economic implications.
Despite more than four decades of experimentation in artificial intelligence, scientists have made only modest progress until now toward building machines that can understand language and interact with humans.
All this is very cool and I think the media had the story right and focused on the right aspects of the story.
This morning, though, a question occurred to me that I had not seen answered in any of the articles I read.
Would this innovative new software be running on Linux by any chance?
That would be a big YES, as I found out when I IMed the leader of the project, Dave Ferrucci, this morning.
I’ve given several talks in the last two months about the relationship of Linux to the Smarter Planet initiatives. The key elements to that are the three “I”s: being instrumented, interconnected, and intelligent. This Jeopardy! project is definitely related to the last. To borrow from a slide I use: “How can we take advantage of the wealth of information available in real time from a multitude of sources to make more intelligent choices?”
I won’t belabor the point but you get the idea. More and more Linux is being used as the foundation on which innovative applications are being built. We don’t always know it, we can’t always measure it, but it’s there. And someday it just might help beat you at Jeopardy!.