Monday, February 14, 2011

IBM's Watson Holds Own on Jeopardy!

Last weekend, I happened across an episode of Nova that highlighted Watson, an IBM computer designed to compete in everyone's favorite game show, Jeopardy!.

Watson, named after IBM President Thomas J. Watson, fills up an entire server room with its hardware - roughly the size of ten refrigerators. With a huge database of source material - from the Bible to IMDb - and some fancy mumbo-jumbo called machine learning, Watson can navigate the unusual phrasing of Jeopardy! questions and even learn from its' mistakes.

His opponents? Ken Jennings, the owner of Jeopardy's longest winning streak and Brad Rutter, the game show's biggest money earner.

Two geniuses vs. a true supercomputer.

As of tonight's first round, Watson is in a two-way tie with Rutter, and Jennings isn't far behind.

Who will win? Who will lose? And when will Watson show up at Best Buy? Guess we'll have to tune in and find out.

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