Thursday, February 17, 2011

Watson Beats Human Competitors at Jeopardy

First chess, now Jeopardy ... whats next? Ok, not really that worried.

"In case you missed it, Watson won again tonight. He even got the Final Jeopardy question correct this time, a multi-layered reference to Bram Stroker that he bet $10k on. His final score over the two rounds ended up at $77,147 (Watson has this thing for betting strange amounts that usually end in a 7), while Ken Jennings got $24,000 and Brad Rutter did $21,600 -- both humans saving a bit of face after last round's stunning defeat. Watson will be giving his $1,000,000 winnings to charity.

So, a few things:

1. We're totally surprised, in a larger theoretical sense, that a computer could win at Jeopardy.
2. We're totally not surprised that Watson, the system built by IBM over the past few years at the expense of millions of dollars, actually succeeded at winning at Jeopardy.
3. Computers have better reflexes than humans, as it turns out.
4. Deal with it.

If you can't tell, we're having a little trouble processing all the emotions brought on by a Jeopardy win from IBM's Watson supercomputer. It's obvious that IBM's DeepQA research program has developed some of the most sophisticated natural language AI known to man. At the same time, Jeopardy questions aren't really that hard. As evidenced by watching these Watson-dominated matches, all three contestants knew the answer most of the time, but Watson was just quicker on the draw. Of course, it's no surprise that computers have quicker reflexes (even with the "handicap" of having to mechanically press the same style of clicker as Meatbag 001 and Meatbag 002), so why shouldn't Watson get to use his inbuilt advantage to the utmost? It seems like a fair fight to us.

1 comment:

  1. The technology was good enough to beat Ken and Brad - but given the frequency of wrong answers that Watson didn't buzz in on tells that there is still a long ways to go in getting this technology to be able to provide reliable and accurate information.


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