News Column

'Watson' Computer System Will Challenge Jeopardy Champions

December 14, 2010

IBM and "Jeopardy" announced that an IBM computing system named "Watson" will compete on "Jeopardy" against the show's two most successful and celebrated contestants -- Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

The first-ever man versus machine "Jeopardy" competition will air Feb. 14, 15 and 16, 2011, with two matches being played over three consecutive days.

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to build a computing system that rivals a human's ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence. The "Jeopardy" format provides a challenge because the game's clues involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not.

Competing against Watson will be two of the most celebrated players ever to appear on "Jeopardy." Ken Jennings broke the "Jeopardy" record for the most consecutive games played by winning 74 games in a row during the 2004-2005 season, resulting in winnings of more than $2.5 million. Brad Rutter won the highest cumulative amount ever by a single "Jeopardy" player, earning $3,255,102.

The grand prize for this competition will be $1 million with second place earning $300,000 and third place $200,000. Rutter and Jennings will donate 50 percent of their winnings to charity and IBM will donate 100 percent of its winnings to charity.

This fall, Watson played more than 50 "sparring games" against former "Jeopardy" Tournament of Champions contestants in final preparation for its television debut. In addition, Watson has taken and passed the same "Jeopardy" contestant test that humans take to qualify to play on the show.

Source: Copyright PRNewswire 2010

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