IBM Builds Jeopardy Supercomputer

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ibmI’ll take Deep Blue for 500 Alex.  Not quite.  IBM’s latest foray into human-like reasoning is beating humans at the ever-popular Jeopardy game show.  The question answered machine nicknamed “Watson” is already performing trial runs against humans that have previously appeared on actual Jeopardy episodes.  According to the article, Ken Jennings is not among the initial contestants.

Watson is “working its way up through the ranks,” says David Ferrucci, leader of the project team. “We win some, we lose some. Overall, we’re quite competitive but there’s a ways to go to play the top of the top.”

The games are taking place at the Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY where an actual Jeopardy stage has been setup for dry runs.  Alex Trebek is not present, but a real human is sitting in as a sample host.  Humans face off against “Watson”, who is located behind a glass wall.

But the Watson development team faces many challenges in creating a robotic Jeopardy champion. Without being connected to the Internet, the computer has to understand natural language, determine the answer to a question (or, in the case of Jeopardy, the question to an answer), and then calculate the odds that its answer is correct in order to decide whether it is worth buzzing in.

This is directly applicable to “normal” supercomputing workloads, but it is certainly interesting to see how far we can push the limits of software and silicon.

For more info, read the full article here.