IBM's Watson Computer Shows Humans Who's Boss in Jeopardy Practice Round

Ryan Whitwam

In February, the robot apocalypse will begin. Well, not the kind with lasers and terminators, but that's when a computer will compete in an official game of Jeopardy against the top two human trivia masters, Ken Jennings, and Brad Rutter. In a recent practice round, IBM's Watson computer was able to best both Jennigns and Rutter as the trio blazed though three categories. Engadget has the video right here .

Watson announced its answers with the cold precision we would expect from a computer operated killing mach- er… trivia robot. None of the competitors answered a question wrong, and the final score after about three minutes of play was Watson in the lead with $4,400, Ken had $3,400, and Brad was at $1,200. IBM was showing a decision graph for each of the questions as Watson searched for the answer. The machine was right on all questions, but was not always able to buzz in before the humans were able to twitch their soft, fleshy thumbs.

The Watson trivia-bot is analyzing each question using thousands of algorithms to assess both comprehension and answer formulation. These are all run in parallel, and the resulting data is sorted out on the other end. Watson learns over time which algorithms work best when, and that's the secret to catching on to the vagaries of Jeopardy-style questions. Will you be watching the final showdown? We will.

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