IBM's 'Watson' to take on Jeopardy! champs

February 14, 2011

It's man vs. machine as an IBM computer takes on two human champions of the popular US television quiz show Jeopardy! on Monday.

The IBM supercomputer, named "Watson," is to play two games of Jeopardy! over the next three days against Ken Jennings, who holds the show record of 74 straight wins, and Brad Rutter, winner of $3.25 million in prize money.

In a practice match at IBM Research headquarters in upstate New York last month, Watson came out on top in terms of prize money, although the computer and the two human contestants correctly answered all of the 15 questions.

Watson, named for IBM founder Thomas Watson, has been under development at IBM Research labs since 2006.

The machine is the latest developed by IBM to challenge mankind -- in 1997, an IBM computer named "Deep Blue" defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a six-game match.

Developing a that can compete with the best human Jeopardy! players, however, involves challenges more complex than those faced by the scientists behind "Deep Blue," according to IBM researchers.

Jeopardy!, which first aired on US television in 1964, tests a player's knowledge of trivia in a range of categories, from geography to politics to history to sports and entertainment.

A dollar amount is attached to each question and the player with the most money at the end of the game is the winner. Players have money deducted for wrong answers.

Watson, which is not connected to the Internet, plays the game by crunching through multiple algorithms at dizzying speed and attaching a percentage score to what it believes is the correct response.

Watson uses what IBM calls Question Answering technology to tackle Jeopardy! clues, gathering evidence, analyzing it and then scoring and ranking the most likely answer.

The winner of the ! showdown is to receive $1 million. Second place is worth $300,000 and the third place finisher pockets $200,000.

plans to donate 100 percent of its winnings to charity. Jennings and Rutter plan to give 50 percent of their prize money to charity.

Explore further: IBM Developing Computing System to Challenge Humans on America's Favorite Quiz Show, Jeopardy! (w/Video)

Related Stories

'Jeopardy!' to pit humans against IBM machine

December 14, 2010

(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.

IBM computer taking on 'Jeopardy!' champs for $1M

January 13, 2011

It's the size of 10 refrigerators, and it swallows encyclopedias whole, but an IBM computer was lacking one thing it needed to battle the greatest champions from the "Jeopardy!" quiz show.

Computer could make 2 'Jeopardy!' champs deep blue

January 13, 2011

(AP) -- The clue: It's the size of 10 refrigerators, has access to the equivalent of 200 million pages of information and knows how to answer in the form of a question. The correct response: "What is the computer IBM developed ...

IBM puts supercomputer in 'Jeopardy!'

February 8, 2011

"Let’s finish, ‘Chicks Dig Me’," intones the somewhat monotone, but not unpleasant, voice of Watson, IBM’s new supercomputer built to compete on the game show Jeopardy!

IBM's 'Watson' to take on Jeopardy! champs

February 11, 2011

Nearly 15 years after an IBM machine defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov, the US computer pioneer is rolling out another device to challenge mankind.

Recommended for you

Battery technology could charge up water desalination

February 4, 2016

The technology that charges batteries for electronic devices could provide fresh water from salty seas, says a new study by University of Illinois engineers. Electricity running through a salt water-filled battery draws the ...

Researchers find vulnerability in two-factor authentication

February 3, 2016

Two-factor authentication is a computer security measure used by major online service providers to protect the identify of users in the event of a password loss. The process is familiar: When a password is forgotten, the ...

EU and US reach new data-sharing agreement

February 2, 2016

The European Union and the United States struck a deal Tuesday over data-sharing that will allow the likes of Facebook and Apple to continue sending people's information across the Atlantic—but a legal challenge to the ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

LariAnn
not rated yet Feb 14, 2011
It's a slam dunk for the ocmputer because Jeopardy is all about "data retrieval", either from the contestant's memory or from the computer database. Computers excel at data retrieval, so long as the required information is in the database, the computer cannot lose. The only problem I can foresee is if the statement is worded such that the computer's logic parser cannot make sense out of it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.