Man vs. Machine: IBM Supercomputer Beats Humans at Jeopardy

Watson, IBM’s latest DeepQA supercomputer,
defeated its two human challengers during a demonstration round of Jeopardy on
Jan. 13. The supercomputer will face former Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and
Brad Rutter in a two-game,
men-versus-machine tournament
to be aired in February.

However, the Jeopardy match-up was not the "culmination" of four
years of work by IBM Research scientists
that worked on the Watson project, but rather, "just the beginning of a
journey," Katharine Frase, vice president of industry solutions and
emerging business at IBM Research, told

Supercomputers that can understand natural human language — complete with
puns, plays on words and slang — to answer complex questions will have
applications in areas such as health
care, tech support and business analytics
, David Ferrucci, the lead
researcher and principal investigator on the Watson project, said at the media
event showcasing Watson at IBM’s Yorktown
Heights Research Lab.

Watson analyzes "real language," or spoken language, as opposed to
simple or keyword-based questions, to understand the question, and then looks
at the millions of pieces of information it has stored to find a specific
answer, said Ferrucci. "The hard part for Watson is finding and justifying
the correct answer, computing confidence that it’s right and doing it fast
enough," said Ferrucci.

This is where Jeopardy comes in. The quiz show covers a broad range of
topics, and the questions can be asked in a variety of ways, whether it’s quirky,
straightforward or downright strange. Creating a machine that can take on human
challengers on Jeopardy
became a "rally cry" for researchers to
think about question and answer processing in a "more open and different
way," Frase said.

For more, read the eWeek article: IBM’s Watson Supercomputer Beats Humans in Jeopardy Practice Match.

CIO Insight Staff
CIO Insight Staff
CIO Insight offers thought leadership and best practices in the IT security and management industry while providing expert recommendations on software solutions for IT leaders. It is the trusted resource for security professionals who need network monitoring technology and solutions to maintain regulatory compliance for their teams and organizations.

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