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If artificial intelligence outsmarts two live contestants, is that a bad sign for the humans?

This week's question addresses a robot and one of America's most well-known game shows. A supercomputer named Watson, designed by IBM and consisting of 90 IBM Power 750 Express servers, is set to face two human contestants on the US quiz show Jeopardy this week. IBM says Watson signals a new era in computing where machines will increasingly be able to learn and understand humans' more subtle requests. Jeopardy is seen as the greatest challenge for Watson because of the show's fast format and the clues' frequent emphasis on puns, riddles, and creativity in the language: something humans have traditionally excelled at understanding and computers have not. What do you think? If artificial intelligence outsmarts two live contestants, is that a bad sign for the humans?

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Is there another "Earth" out there, fit for life as we know it?

This week's question looks at an announcement from scientists operating NASA's Kepler satellite, who reported this week that they had identified 1,235 possible planets orbiting other stars, potentially three times the previously recorded number. Although no Earth-like planet has been determined yet, fifty-four of the possible exoplanets are in habitable zones of stars where temperatures should be moderate enough for liquid water. What do you think? Is there another "Earth" out there, fit for life as we know it? Yes or no?

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Do social networks make us less social?

This week's Question of the Week focuses on Web 2.0 interaction. A recent report from the University of Texas, Austin, says that networking sites like Facebook make users more sociable and "afford opportunities for new expressions of friendship, intimacy and community." A recent book by Sherry Turkle, "Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other," conversely, makes the case that social media interactions isolate, and even dehumanize, its members. What do you think? Do social networks make us less social? Yes or no?

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Will an optional phone-disabling service make the roads safer?

This week's Question focuses on a new service from T-Mobile that, for just 4.99 a month, automatically disables rings and messages, and sends calls to voicemail when the phone is in a moving car. The services being tested and deployed are voluntary and can be overridden if a driver needs to use the phone for an emergency. The technology is aimed at curbing distractions and keeping people from texting or using the phone while driving. What do you think? Will an optional phone-disabling service make the roads safer? Yes or no?

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Will the Apple/Verizon partnership lead to widespread iPhone use in the enterprise?

This week's question addresses last week's news that Verizon will soon sell the iPhone 4. Although some analysts say the move may double Apple's market share, many enterprises and financial institutions have held back on the mobile device due to concerns of its cost, security capabilities, and its compatibility with in-house systems like Microsoft Outlook. Will the Apple/Verizon partnership lead to widespread iPhone use in the enterprise? Yes or no?

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Should toys be kept out of a Happy Meal?

This week's Question of the Week concerns a new law in San Francisco, taking effect on Dec. 1 that bans restaurant toy giveaways unless the meals meet certain healthy standards for calories, sodium, and fat. Supporters say the move will offer better nutrition standards for children, while opponents say the law interferes with the market and that items like the Happy Meal are part of an enjoyable, family experience. What do you think? Should toys be kept out of a Happy Meal?

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Should Congress pass the Right to Repair Act?

This week's Question of the Week, a suggestion from INSIDER reader Glenn Barkley, concerns the Right to Repair Act, a bill that would require auto manufacturers to sell to non-dealer repair shops the complete repair information and diagnostic tools, currently only provided to dealer service centers. Supporters say the auto companies currently refuse to give the information to independent repair shops, and consumers are forced to have repairs done at the more expensive dealer service centers. Opponents say the proposal would force auto manufacturers to disclose trade secrets and other proprietary information to their competition. What do you think? Should Congress pass the Right to Repair Act? Yes or no?

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