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Computer Named ‘Watson’ to Compete on Jeopardy

Computer Named 'Watson' to Compete on Jeopardy - top government contractors - best government contracting event
Image: Chris Brogan
Computer Named 'Watson' to Compete on Jeopardy - top government contractors - best government contracting event
Image: Shawn M. Smith

Question: What is a competition featuring an IBM computer, Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter and Alex Trebek? Answer: Jeopardy's man vs. machine competition that will air Feb. 14, 15 and 16, 2011.

Jeopardy announced an IBM computing system named Watson will compete on the game show against the show's two most successful contestants, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, in its first-ever man vs. machine competition.

A team of IBM scientists designed Watson with one goal in mind: build a computer system that rivals a human's ability to answer questions posed in natural language.

Watson is considered a breakthrough in the scientific field of question and answering. The Watson software is powered by an IBM POWER7 server, optimized to handle numerous tasks Watson must perform at rapid speeds to analyze complex language and deliver correct responses to Jeopordy clues. The technology can be adapted to solve problems and drive progress in various fields, by sifting through vast amounts of data and retuning precise answers.

To prepare for the show, Watson competed in several “sparring games“ with former Jeopardy contestants. Watson also had to take and pass the same Jeopardy contestant test humans have to take to qualify to play on the show.

Watson will compete against Ken Jennings, who broke the Jeopardy record for the most-consecutive games played, when he won 74 games in a row, and Brad Rutter, who won the highest-cumulative amount ever by a single Jeopardy player, earning $3,255,102.

The competition's grand prize will be $1 million. Rutter and Jennings will donate 50 percent of their winnings to charity, and IBM will donate all of its winnings to charity.

“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 Dr. David Ferrucci, the scientist leading the IBM research team that has created Watson. “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.”

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