IBM supercomputer wins first Jeopardy dust up
A practice round against former Jeopardy champs goes to Watson in the game show's first man vs. machine match
Computerworld - The first round goes to the computer.
In the first man vs. machine Jeopardy competition, IBM's custom-built Watson supercomputer Thursday defeated all-time Jeopardy champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a practice round of the popular television game show.
The real Jeopardy contests are slated to be taped today at IBM's Yorktown Heights Research Center for television viewing from Feb. 14 to Feb. 16.
For IBM, the Jeopardy challenge represents the next stage in the challenge of creating computers that can mimic human intelligence. David Ferrucci, the scientist leading the Watson team, said in a previous interview that the challenge of natural language processing can be intense because of the many ways the same information can be conveyed.
An IBM team of scientists spent four years building a computer system that can rival a human in answering questions posed in natural language. While IBM has been fairly mum about the bulk of Watson's architecture, it has acknowledged that it is powered by an IBM Power 7 server.
"After four years, our scientific team believes that Watson is ready for this challenge based on its ability to rapidly comprehend what the Jeopardy clue is asking, analyze the information it has access to, come up with precise answers, and develop an accurate confidence in its response," said Ferrucci in a statement.
"Beyond our excitement for the match itself, our team is very motivated by the possibilities that Watson's breakthrough computing capabilities hold for building a smarter planet and helping people in their business tasks and personal lives," he added.
Programmers and scientists working on the Watson project pushed for the Jeopardy challenge because the game show provides what they feel is "the ultimate challenge." The show's clues involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities in which many humans excel and computers do not.
To get ready for the final matches, the supercomputer last fall played more than 50 practice games against former Jeopardy champions. IBM also reported that Watson had to take and pass the same test that human contestants have to take to qualify as a contestant.
IBM has said that the developers of the supercomputer aren't focused mostly on winning a game show.
In fact, they are looking at creating technology that can be applied in a variety of important applications, such as diagnosing the ills of medical patients. Officials said that the technology could be used to improve online self-service help desks, provide tourists with travel information and improve telephone customer support services.
Joab Jackson of the IDG News Service contributed to this story.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
Read more about High Performance Computing in Computerworld's High Performance Computing Topic Center.
- Budd Van Lines Moves Data Closer to Home Shipping and logistics company Budd Van Lines uses Infinio to improve performance on their VDI environment. The company employs a virtualized datacenter based...
- Storage Performance with Cost Control As IT groups expand their server virtualization initiatives, central storage performance can become the bottleneck and create poor end user experience.
- Server-side Caching for the VMware Admin vExpert David Davis weights in on how best-in-class server-side caching solutions can drastically improve storage performance and reduce latency without the addition of...
- Move Mission-Critical Apps to the Cloud with AWS and F5 Read this paper to learn about adoption inhibitors of the cloud, potential solutions, and how advanced Application Delivery Controller (ADC) technologies are critical...
- What Does it Take to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience? The Two Top-Rated Online Retailers, B&H Photo and Crutchfield Electronics, Share Their Secrets Discuss practical CX tools and service methods such as contact center agents and the use of realtime speech analytics to help contact center...
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily... All High Performance Computing White Papers | Webcasts