Watson wins on Jeopardy
Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Jeopardy competition, in which IBM's Watson computer took on two former champions of the game designed to demonstrate human intelligence, had a conclusive outcome - machine overcame man.

Watson, the computer named after the founder father of IBM finished with $77,147, compared to $24,000 for Ken Jennings who won 74 games in a row during the show's 2004-05 season and $21,600 for Brad Rutter, another top Jeopardy contestant who has previously earned a cumulative $3.3 million on the show. 

The result wasn't unexpected given that Watson had had a pretty decisive victory during the practice round in January - see AI does well on Jeopardy.

 

jeopardy

 

"I for one welcome our new computer overlords," Jennings wrote next to his last answer, displaying one human quality conspicuously absent in Watson - a sense of humor.

Analysis of the errors that the machine made reveal a lot about the differences between the human and machine approach to the problem. It also did a reasonably convincing job of rational betting - but this is something we would expect a machine to master. 

IBM is clearly pleased with the result and have lots of plans to use the Watson technology in a range of commercial AI systems - everything from diagnosis through legal advice. Overall however this isn't an AI breakthrough. It is mostly the application of fairly simple algorithms on a scale that we haven't seen before and if it proves anything it proves that if you have enough computing power even simple looks smart.

If you want to know more about Watson and the AI techniques that are involved read our in depth analysis Watson wins Jeopardy! - trick or triumph

IBM plans to donate all of Watson's winnings to charity.

Related articles:

Watson wins Jeopardy! - trick or triumph

IBM takes on Jeopardy - has AI really got this far?

AI does well on Jeopardy

 

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