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Man Vs. Machine: The Ultimate Jeopardy Showdown.

February 15, 2011

Last night was the debut round for man vs. machine on Jeopardy. The top two Jeopardy champs, Ken Jennings, who currently holds the record for most wins (74) and Brad Rutter, who holds the current record for the highest cumulative amount won ($3,255,102), faced off last night with IBM’s Watson. Watson aptly named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is a powered by 10 racks of computer servers running on the Linux operating system. Watson is not internet connected so he isn’t getting his knowledge through active search engines but is instead pre-programmed with the same ginormous database. The 3 night Jeopardy challenge was initiated by IBM after spending the last 4 years working on my dear Watson.

After last night’s show Watson proved to be a fierce competitor tying 1st place with Brad Rutter. While Watson may have the advantage in regards to speed it was the language complexities and his lack of hearing that could be a hinderance. This became evident when Ken  Jennings answered a question incorrectly with “What is 1920s” and Watson repeated the same answer. Alex Trebek responded with a “he said that already!”. According to PCMag.com, Steve Camepa, IBM’s General Manager of Global Management and Entertainment stated that, “Waston only takes his input from the question board so the fact that somebody else gave the same answer doesn’t factor into what Watson says. He can’t hear what the other players are saying”. If IBM could get the database within Watson to not only allow him to hear but even mimic the human thought process I don’t think Jennings or Rutter would stand a chance. The outcome, already pre-determined, is major hush-hush. The show was taped at IBM labs on January 14th in New York. Ken Jennings put it best to USA Today by saying, “It was their (IBMs) home arena. It was an away game for humanity”. I don’t know sounds a little Terminator like to me. Computer geeks and Jeopardy fans alike will spend the next two nights on the edge of their seats watching history being made.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2011 7:45 pm

    Great observations about the show last night. I too was very intrigued with what I saw and more so I realized it was the hinderance of recognition software and the like that caused Watson’s performance, but in time even that will be corrected!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Michael
    OutMaturity.com

    • February 15, 2011 8:18 pm

      Thanks Michael. I’m looking forward to seeing what IBM can do with Watson’s language skills.

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