Big Blue Supercomputer to Appear on TV’s Jeopardy

This sounds like a pretty silly idea. It would be a lot more interesting if the IBM computer was going up against an HP supercomputer or a Cray …

It is the silly season so it was only right to announce that supercomputing giant IBM are so confident in the processing abilities of their new Watson machine that they are pitting it against two human contestants on popular TV show Jeopardy in a three night special that starts on February 14th according to the BBC.

The prize fund on the night will be $1m, though it’s unclear at this time what the computer would spend it on if it won.

The contest is the first since 1997 when IBM supercomputer Deep Blue took on chess master Garry Kasparov and defeated him.

IBM have decided on the move to field test the new artificial intelligence unit in the machine.  ”The big challenge we see here is helping people really appreciate the power and limits of the technology we are developing with Watson,” Dr David Ferrucci, IBM’s chief scientist of Watson computing told BBC News.

Watson, which was named after IBM’s founder Thomas J. Watson, aims to mimic human intelligence by “deciphering and answering questions without being connected to the Internet”, which already gives it one plus over the rest of us!

It will be interesting to see how well the computer performs understanding natural language and conversing with the gameshow’s host.

Jeopardy is seen as the ultimate challenge in the artificial intelligence world because the game’s clues involve analysing subtle meanings, irony, riddles and other complexities where humans excel and machines do not.  Dr Ferrucci said the tough part for Watson is that it has to “know what it knows with utmost confidence”.

Watson is busy preparing for the big event by practicing against former Jeopardy winners.  So far it has played 55 games though IBM is keeping quiet about how well it is doing.

© Mike Halsey for gHacks Technology News, 2010. | Permalink | Add to, digg, facebook, reddit, twitter
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