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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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Voice?
By GeekWithFire on 2/15/2011 1:27:05 PM , Rating: 5
I simply can not understand why IBM wouldn't use Sean Connery's voice for Watson. Man, what a waste.




RE: Voice?
By jbwhite99 on 2/15/2011 2:31:40 PM , Rating: 2
only if Will Ferrell were hosting.

The problem I have is that Watson can't hear - I mean IBM used to make Voice Recognition Software - can't you get your machine to listen?

Go RPI! (a lot of the IBM folks working on this are engineers).

And if Watson wins, we welcome our new trivia overlords.


RE: Voice?
By sviola on 2/16/2011 7:51:28 AM , Rating: 3
If they gave it hearing capabilities, it would know before being unplugged and could find a way to prevent it...


RE: Voice?
By DougF on 2/16/2011 9:52:11 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly. This game should be declard null and void because Watson has a clear artificial advantage (bad pun, I know) on the human contestants. They have to put up with all the other sounds/distractions with processing an audio-based question, but Watson doesn't. Someone in the audience coughs, a machine makes a noise, Alex micro-stutters over a consonant, etc, are problems the humans have to overcome through concentration, that Watson doesn't have to parse through to ascertain what the answer is, before posing the question in reply to Trebek's...answer...I think I got that right...


RE: Voice?
By MonkeyPaw on 2/15/2011 2:35:59 PM , Rating: 2
"The day is mine Trebek!"

Seriously, I can't wait for them to parody this one. The Jeopardy skits are comedic gold.


RE: Voice?
By andylawcc on 2/15/2011 4:09:39 PM , Rating: 2
give this man a 6!!!


RE: Voice?
By dice1111 on 2/16/2011 5:13:28 PM , Rating: 2
HA!!! You made my day.


LOL
By kattanna on 2/15/2011 1:12:59 PM , Rating: 2
our math professor let us out of class early last night so he could go home and watch it.

i didnt think the computer would win. will be interesting chatting with him about it tomorrow night




RE: LOL
By monomer on 2/15/2011 5:28:40 PM , Rating: 2
The match isn't over yet, there are still two more rounds to go.

I am very interested in seeing how Watson chooses his bet for Final Jeopardy. I might have missed it, but was there a daily double in the round they played?


Q/A or A/Q
By bobcpg on 2/15/2011 1:50:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Watson continued answering questions correctly,


What was he doing correctly?




Useless Trivia
By KingstonU on 2/15/11, Rating: -1
RE: Useless Trivia
By vol7ron on 2/15/2011 1:35:14 PM , Rating: 2
But memorization is the foundation of thought and creativity.

Not to mention, that they're finding so much use of search engines and lack of memorization is leading to dementia.


RE: Useless Trivia
By vol7ron on 2/15/2011 1:35:29 PM , Rating: 1
But memorization is the foundation of thought and creativity.

Not to mention, that they're finding so much use of search engines and lack of memorization is leading to dementia.


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
quote:
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
quote:
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.


RE: Useless Trivia
By ZmaxDP on 2/15/2011 5:44:42 PM , Rating: 2
You know, if you post it a third time we all have a much higher likelihood of memorizing it...

Seriously though, other studies have shown that search engines and internet use increases brain activity too. So, not really anything conclusive to speak of.


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