IBM Supercomputer v. Humans on Jeopardy! Next Week

Next Monday, the long-running American game show, Jeopardy!, will air a tournament of champions, pitting its two biggest winners, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, against Watson, IBM’s newest supercomputer. And it will provide an occasion to answer an important question: Can computers understand the subtleties of language? Can they answer questions when they’re posed in less than straightforward ways? When, for example, the questions use wordplay and puns? IBM worked on the project for four years, and the early indications suggest that computers can undoubtedly master these subtleties. (Just watch this Watson match against less accomplished Jeopardy! players.) This article does a good job of explaining the fairly staggering things happening on the backend of the new IBM computer, and how this research might shape the future of computing. The Watson/human faceoff begins next Monday, with two matches taking place over three days. Once video becomes available, as it inevitably will, we will tweet it on our ever-flowing Twitter stream.

PS NOVA aired a program last week dedicated to the Watson/Jeopardy! challenge. If it’s not geoblocked, you can watch it right here. H/T to @eugenephoto for flagging the program.

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