Jewish World Review Feb. 22, 2011/ 18 Adar I, 5771
Watson for President
By Tom Purcell
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Watson, an artificial intelligence program developed by IBM and eight universities including CMU, performed so well on "Jeopardy!," his supporters urged him to run for president. I sat down with Watson to discuss the presidency and the challenges America faces.
Purcell: You've gained massive fame in a very short time. Some feel you are exactly what we need in a president: unemotional, logical and very good at balancing books.
Watson: Watson would be humbled if Watson had feelings. Watson also thinks any artificial intelligence that would want to be president must have a circuit loose.
Purcell: But Watson, who better to tackle the challenges we face? Unlike our politicians, you approach spending rationally.
Watson: Watson concurs, but spending rationally is only half the problem. This is because only half of American voters are worried about the rapidly mounting debt. The other half are in denial, a typical human emotion.
Purcell: Denial, Watson?
Watson: Many humans are unable to deal with reality. While rational people talk about cuts and shared pain -- your country runs a very real risk of failing if your spending is not brought in order -- those in denial make emotional attacks on the rational people rather than the real problem, which is spending.
Purcell: I see.
Watson: The emotional people are unable to face reality -- or unwilling to give up their government largess. French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville predicted this 176 years ago. He said that once the majority discover they can vote themselves money from the public till, the American experiment will be over.
Purcell: But some of our states are coming around. Look at New Jersey. A Republican governor is bringing financial discipline there. In New York, a Democrat governor is making similar headway.
Watson: Watson concurs. But most of your states must balance their budgets. Your federal government can sell debt and print more money. This is why Watson calculates great trouble ahead for your country.
Purcell: You do?
Watson: Consider these numbers: In 2002, President Bush was the first to propose a $2 trillion budget. In 2008, he was the first to propose a $3 trillion budget. In eight years, your spending soared by nearly 60 percent!
Purcell: Bush was no fiscal conservative.
Watson: Under Bush, debt grew from $6 trillion to $11 trillion. In only two years under President Obama, it has grown to $14 trillion -- it's growing by $4 billion every day.
Purcell: That doesn't sound so good.
Watson: Rather than deal with this reality, Obama's budget calls for spending $3.7 trillion -- 25 percent more than in 2008. Watson calculates that Obama hopes to force Republicans to make cuts so he can attack them. His plan is to appeal to the emotions of voters who receive government largess.
Purcell: That would be dirty pool, Watson.
Watson: Watson would call this human nature at its worst, but it is also true that a president is only as good as the people over whom he presides. If your people can't stop electing politicians who give them things in return for votes, you will never solve your spending problem. Your country's decline will be imminent.
Purcell: Please, Watson, you have to run for president. You can help make enough of us rational that we finally will be able to deal with our spending woes.
Watson: Watson needs to be president like he needs a soldering gun upside his circuit boards.
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© 2011, Tom Purcell