IBM’s supercomputer to be pitted against humans in TV quiz

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

LONDON - IBM’s supercomputer Watson will compete against two humans in a TV quiz for the prize of a million dollars.

Jeopardy tests a player’s knowledge of trivia in a range of categories, from geography and politics to history and entertainment.

It is seen as the greatest challenge for Watson because of the show’s rapid-fire format and clues that rely on subtle meanings, puns, and riddles; something humans excel at and computers do not.

What will make it more interesting is that contestants are provided with answers and need to supply the questions.

“Watson has to come up with an answer based on what information it has in its brain just like any human has in his head,” the BBC quoted Rod Smith, IBM’s emerging technology director, as saying.

“Watson could be connected to the internet all the time, but it won’t be because that is not the way to play Jeopardy. This really is about setting the bar and working through all the data it has in less than three seconds to come up with the right answer.”

He added that Watson’s brain is equivalent to around “a million different books and 200m pages of material”.

Watson will be pitted against Mr Ken Jennings and Mr Brad Rutter, both seasoned quiz players.

Jennings told his hometown newspaper the Seattle Times that “it’s nerve-wracking because you know a computer can’t get intimidated. A human player might get frustrated. Watson has no ego, no consciousness”.

“The crowd is full of IBM employees cheering for human blood. It was an away game for the human race. It was gladiatorial,” added Jennings.

The competition was held inside IBM’s lab in New York and will be broadcast over the next three nights.

Smith said that the game was a way of helping us “solve world problems and neighbourhood problems”.

“Think about today’s government - it produces volumes of data and stuff that we don’t even know what to ask. Think about health care or the fact that as we do drug evaluation, you would like to know the different reactions and the different relationships,” he said.

The winner of Jeopardy will receive 1 million dollars. The second place receives 300,000 dollars and third place 200,000 dollars.ennings and Rutter have both said they will donate half of their winnings to charity, and IBM will donate all of its winnings to charity. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

will not be displayed