'Jeopardy!' to pit humans against IBM machine

Dec 14, 2010 By DAVID BAUDER , AP Television Writer
In this undated publicity image released by Jeopardy!, Ken Jennings, left, and Brad Rutter, two of the most successful contestants on the game show "Jeopardy!," are shown. Jennings and Rutter two of the venerable game show's most successful champions, will play two games against "Watson," a computer program developed by IBM's artificial intelligence team. The matches will be spread over three days that will air Feb. 14-16, the game show said on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Jeopardy!, Charles William Bush)

(AP) -- The game show "Jeopardy!" will pit man versus machine this winter in a competition that will show how successful scientists are in creating a computer that can mimic human intelligence.

Two of the venerable game show's most successful champions - Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter - will play two games against "Watson," a computer program developed by IBM's artificial intelligence team. The matches will be spread over three days that will air Feb. 14-16, the game show said on Tuesday.

The competition is reminiscent of when IBM developed a chess-playing computer to compete against chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1997.

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The "Jeopardy!" answer-and-question format is a different kind of challenge. It often requires contestants to deal with subtleties, puns and riddles and come up with answers fast.

"Watson" is named for IBM founder Thomas J. Watson. It will look nothing like the computer "maid" on "The Jetsons." Rather, IBM said its on-screen appearance will be represented by a round avatar.

The computer has already been tested in some 50 games against past "Jeopardy!" champions. But neither IBM nor "Jeopardy!" representatives would say what "Watson's" record was.

The winner gets a $1 million prize. IBM said it would donate its winnings to charity, while Jennings and Rutter said they would give half of their prize money away.

Jennings had the game show's longest winning streak, taking 74 games in a row during the 2004-2005 season. Rutter has won more money than any other "Jeopardy!" player, nearly $3.3 million during his original appearance and three subsequent tournaments.

IBM is hoping the technology it exhibits will have some practical uses eventually, for instance helping doctors diagnose illnesses or solving customer problems at technical support centers.

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Simonsez
5 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2010
But can it make "your mom" jokes on Alex Trebek?
auburn_leaves
not rated yet Dec 14, 2010
This will be fun. Good for IBM. I predict that humans will adopt more tonal, physical and wordplay nuances in their languages as an eventual result of this... to counter-act the negatives side effects of the NSA/CIA/FSB/etc using the technology. ;)
JamesM
not rated yet Dec 15, 2010
Do they plan on at least having everything spoken through a robot, like Honda's Asimo? Just for the presentation factor it would be more fun at home to see or at least think its coming from within a computer body than a supercomputer down the hall.