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IBM’s Watson supercomputer defeats humans on game show

IBM’s Watson supercomputer defeats humans on game show
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First Published: Thu, Feb 17 2011. 04 42 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Feb 17 2011. 04 42 PM IST
New York: IBM’s supercomputer Watson defeated its two human opponents on the ‘Jeopardy’ game show in what is being dubbed as a man versus machine showdown.
‘Jeopardy’ is a long-running American TV game show where three contestants have 5 seconds to answer different kinds of trivia questions, which increase in difficulty level.
In the final episode of the pre-recorded two-game, three-night match, Watson had crushed the competition, taking $77,147 in winnings, according to PC World.
The previous two Jeopardy champions, Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings scored $21,600 and $24,000 respectively.
Watson also took the $1 million champion prize, which IBM will donate to charity.
IBM researchers spent four years building Watson. The machine is capable of processing 80 trillion operations (teraflops) per second. It runs about 2,800 processor cores and has 16 terabytes of working memory, the computer magazine reported.
The makers say Watson was more complicated to build than the chess-playing computer IBM built in the nineties.
“It’s a much different kind of problem. Chess was very challenging for the time due to the mathematics. This was a very different type of program,” said Watson lead manager David Ferrucci.
“It’s not finite problem or a well-defined space. You are dealing with ambiguity, and the contextual nature of language,” he added.
Computerworld reported that Watson’s ability to deliver more than calculations and documents, and answer verbal questions posed by humans, makes it one of the biggest computing advancements in the past several decade
“I would say it’s the largest computing advance of this century,” said Richard Doherty, research director at Envisioneering Group.
“I’ve been in computing since 1973 and followed technology before that, and this is the largest advancement in decades. This isn’t an iPad. To reach (a computer) conversationally and have it respond with knowledgeable answers is a sea change in computing,” he added.
Watson’s success on Jeopardy appearance represents the next stage in the long effort to develop a computer that can mimic human intelligence, according to Computerworld.
“I think Watson has the potential to transform the way people interact with computers,” said Jennifer Chu-Carroll, an IBM researcher working on the project.
“Watson is a significant step, allowing people to interact with a computer as they would a human being,” she said.
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First Published: Thu, Feb 17 2011. 04 42 PM IST
More Topics: Supercomputer | IBM | Watson | Jeopardy | Game Show |