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Ken Jennings (Left), Watson (Center) and Brad Rutter (Right)  (Source: Seth Wenig / AP)
The first round ends in a tie between Watson and one human competitor

A supercomputer challenged two human contestants in a game of "Jeopardy!" Monday, resulting in a tie between the computer and one of its human competitors.  

The supercomputer, named Watson, is a computing system developed by IBM that utilizes Question Answering (QA) technology. Eight universities collaborated with IBM researchers to create Watson, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Southern California, University of Texas at Austin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University at Albany, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Carnegie Mellon University and University of Trento in Italy.  

Watson is capable of identifying the correct answer to a question through the use of a large database of information with its 15-trillion-byte memory and 2,880 processor cores. Watson does not have access to the Internet while playing "Jeopardy!". 

Monday's "Jeopardy!" match included Watson, and human contestants Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings. Rutter is "Jeopardy's!" all-time money-winner with $3.25 million winnings, and Jennings has the longest winning streak with 74 games in all of "Jeopardy!" history.  

The game began with categories like Olympic Oddities, Name the Decade, Alternate Meanings and Beatles People. Rutter was the first to answer a question correctly, choosing Alternate Meanings for $200. 

Watson quickly took over the game, choosing Alternate Meanings for $400. The question requested a four-letter word for the iron fitting on the hoof of a horse or a card-dealing box in a casino. 

"What is a shoe?" said Watson, answering the question correctly. 

Watson continued answering questions correctly, racking up a score of $4,000 while Rutter and Jennings sat at a low $200. But the human contestants didn't give up. Rutter began his streak of correct answers to catch up with the supercomputer. 

Watson may have a wide database of information helping him answer a lot of questions correctly, but Watson doesn't get it right every single time. Throughout the game, Watson made quite a few mistakes.  

At one point, Jennings was asked which decade Oreo cookies were introduced, and he answered incorrectly with the 1920's. Watson jumped to answer the question next and said "What is 1920's?" 

"No, Ken said that," said Alex Trebek, the host of "Jeopardy!" 

Watson also answered "Stylish elegance, or students who all graduated in the same year" in the Alternate Meanings category incorrectly with the word "chic," when the answer was "class."

Watson misses questions mainly because Watson doesn't always understand the context for "Jeopardy!" clues, which are usually word associations with the category titles, or puns. 

In the end of Monday's match, Watson and Rutter tied with $5,000 while Jennings was left in third place with $2,000. 

While Watson is being used for "Jeopardy!" right now, researchers hope the supercomputer can eventually be used in "data-heavy" field like engineering and medicine. 

The "Jeopardy!" match will continue Tuesday and Wednesday where two complete games will be broadcasted. The first-place winner will receive $1 million, while he who finishes in second place will receive $300,000 and third place receives $200,000. 

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RE: Useless Trivia
By invidious on 2/15/2011 2:30:40 PM , Rating: 3
Who is finding this? Based on what body of evidence? The modern search engine is only about a decade old. There haven't been any people who have used search engines throughout their lives to comapare against those who haven't.

The things that lead to dementia stuff like sitting in front of the TV like a zombie throughout your old age.

If anything search engines are stimulating your mind by being a means of exposing it to new material. Just because someone conducts a study and makes a claim doesn't make it true or even logical.

RE: Useless Trivia
By Solandri on 2/15/2011 4:24:17 PM , Rating: 2
If anything search engines are stimulating your mind by being a means of exposing it to new material. Just because someone conducts a study and makes a claim doesn't make it true or even logical.

There's an implicit assumption that the amount of right info out there exceeds the amount of wrong info. Info which is wrong tends to eliminate itself ("I tried this and it didn't work), while info which is right tends to spread and be reinforced ("You have got to try this! It worked great for me!"). (Urban legends are an obvious exception - usually their negative consequences are harmless or immeasurable enough that there's little negative feedback to eliminate them.)

Yes this balance can be skewed by deliberate vandalism. But you have to remember we're talking about a substantial portion of the documents on the web, not just a select few. People have to do something productive with their lives to make a living, so it's a pretty safe assumption that the number of people writing correct stuff far exceeds the number of vandals deliberately putting out bad info.

RE: Useless Trivia
By jskirwin on 2/15/2011 11:21:41 PM , Rating: 3
There's an implicit assumption that the amount of right info out there exceeds the amount of wrong info.

Funny, I hold the opposite assumption that everything is incorrect until proven otherwise. I follow Sturgeon's law - that 90% of everything is crap - but up it to 95% because Theodore Sturgeon died before Al Gore invented the Internet.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad
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