IBM’s Watson to Compete on Jeopardy!

IBM’s supercomputer Watson, which was designed to play Jeopardy, is going to challenge Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, the show’s most successful champions, in a special match on Feb. 14-16, 2011.

For I.B.M., “Watson” is an important test of artificial intelligence. Scientists there have been talking to “Jeopardy” about a man vs. machine match-up for the better part of two years. “If the program beats the humans, the field of artificial intelligence will have made a leap forward,” John Markoff of The New York Times wrote in April 2009.

In a news release, the companies said the format of “Jeopardy” was “the ultimate challenge” for “Watson” because “the game’s clues involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles and other complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not.”

I.B.M. and the show’s producers have agreed that $1 million will be on the line. If “Watson” wins, all of the money will be donated to charity. If one of the humans wins, half of the money will be donated.

Getch ya popcorn ready.  I know what I’ll be watching those two days.  I also called this back in June, so bonus points for me: “If IBM was smart … they would get Ken Jennings to match up with Watson in a primetime event, not dissimilar from the Deep Blue-Kasparov matches a decade ago.”

This is infinitely more exciting, to me at least, than the Deep Blue-Kasparov chess matches in the nineties.

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