IBM supercomputer challenges humans on TV quiz

At last we are putting computers to the ultimate test – can they win a game show! Just joking, actually we will be really interested to see how Watson gets on. By the way just in case you didn’t know, the computer is named Watson as a tribute to the IBM founder Thomas J Watson – Deskarati

A supercomputer, designed by IBM, is to face two human contestants on the US quiz show Jeopardy. Watson will pit its wits against two of the game’s most successful players. At stake is a $1 million prize (£620,000) and the reputation of the field of artificial intelligence.

The company said Watson signals a new era in computing where machines will increasingly be able to learn and understand what humans are really asking them for. Jeopardy is seen as the greatest challenge for Watson because of the show’s rapid fire format and clues that rely on subtle meanings, puns, and riddles; something humans excel at and computers do not.

“Watson has to come up with an answer based on what information it has in its brain just like any human has in his head,” Rod Smith, IBM’s emerging technology director told BBC News. “Watson could be connected to the internet all the time, but it won’t be because that is not the way to play Jeopardy. This really is about setting the bar and working through all the data it has in less than three seconds to come up with the right answer.”

Jeopardy, which first aired on US television in 1964, tests a player’s knowledge of trivia in a range of categories, from geography and politics to history and entertainment. In a twist on traditional game play, contestants are provided with answers and need to supply the questions. A dollar amount is attached to each question and the player with the most amount of money at the end wins the game.

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