IBM's Watson beats Jeopardy champions in first round

"Elementary, my dear Watson."

IBM's supercomputer, named Watson in honor of IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, bested star Jeopardy contestants Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings and it wasn't even close. Watson ended the day with $35,734 while the two human opponents combined for a mere $15,200.

As reported earlier, IBM has moved on from winning chess matches and is instead focusing on answering human questions. The system, which consists of ten racks of servers, does not actually listen to Alex Trebek ask the questions but is instead fed the data electronically. The system then parses the question, scans its database for potential answers, and displays how confident it is that the answer is correct. Watson successfully answered two of the game's Daily Double's - wagering an odd $6,455 the first time - and even though its confidence level was only 32% for the second question, it was successful in guessing "Baghdad."

Watson did not have the correct response for Final Jeopardy, but by that point it didn't matter as its competitors were already in the dust and Watson wisely wagered a mere $947.

The game show was produced at an IBM research center in Yorktown Heights, New York last month. Round two will be aired Wednesday, February 16th. Are we witnessing the beginning of SkyNet?

Image Credit: Technabob

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IMO if asked Watson could well conclude right now that mankind is it's own worst enemy..

While It does not have the capability to act on that it can draw that conclusion ..

paulheu said,
IMO if asked Watson could well conclude right now that mankind is it's own worst enemy..

While It does not have the capability to act on that it can draw that conclusion ..

Another perfectly good reason to keep it contained and not globally connected.

paulheu said,
IMO if asked Watson could well conclude right now that mankind is it's own worst enemy..

While It does not have the capability to act on that it can draw that conclusion ..

it preforms calculations. Its mathematically impossible to solve for two unknowns in one equation (well, 3 unknowns I Guess), which would be thinking. All it can do is derive results based upon previously given knowledge and the unknown at hand.

This is much more impressive then a computer simple winning at chess. It has to "understand" pun's riddles, some sort of context. Applications for this will be amazing.

the better twin said,
Not skynet just yet. Still a long way to go.

Not really... Skynet was a self-learning self-adapting computer system. Watson has those same characteristics. Skynet was designed with the ultimate purpose of protecting mankind. Skynet wasn't designed to be conscience. When Skynet was turned on it's learning algorithms were unleashed on the wealth of written human knowledge, and within fractions of a second it gained consciousness, determined that mankind was the biggest threat to mankind and took action.

Wrong! One match lasted 2 days. Monday was only the Jeopardy round, which ended with Brad and Watson both at 5000. Tuesday was Double Jeopardy and Final Jeopardy rounds in which Watson dominated. But one round lasted two days. The Register has it wrong (I know, shocking).

Tonight is round 2 and it hasn't aired yet.

Shadrack said,

Monday was only the Jeopardy round, which ended with Brad and Watson both at 5000.

It seems like you actually agree that Watson tied the first round.

Memnochxx said,

It seems like you actually agree that Watson tied the first round.

Another perfect example of how complex the human language is and the impressiveness of Watson being able to "handle" it as well as he has.

But I stand by my original comment. There are two rounds of Jeopardy which in and of itself is divided into 3 segments . lol

I have been reading numerous posts around the internet today on this. I am a bit disappointed in the responses of many, though not on Neowin. There are honestly people who seem to believe that this is going to led to the construction of SkyNet (i.e. Terminator) and the overthrow of the human race. Others seem to think it is little more than a glorified search engine.

I think what people are failing to see is: a). how much work went into this b). how this could really benefit us all, the ability to analyze large amounts of data and come to concrete conclusions by mimicking aspects of higher human behavior at a higher efficiency. This is a bit more than a chess game, though that was clearly a step in the right direction as well.

The problem of course will be putting this into everyday application soon. The basic routines can of course be implemented, but it might be a bit difficult for most individuals/agencies to get the big iron behind the Watson. It a pretty impressive cluster network. This is a huge advancement for parallel computing.

azure.sapphire said,
Others seem to think it is little more than a glorified search engine.

I know, that is the most frustrating reaction.

Actually no, Watson is NOT connected to the internet, if you check out the video IBM has up on the subject on how this system works I think you will find it is quite a bit more impressive then you think it is..

At least I think it's pretty slick when you consider just 28 years ago we were amazed how our C64 would go 'I am the wordwizzard, welcome to my cave..' ( if any of you are old enough to remember..;^) )

Damn.. I am getting old for sure..

paulheu said,
Actually no, Watson is NOT connected to the internet, if you check out the video IBM has up on the subject on how this system works I think you will find it is quite a bit more impressive then you think it is..

At least I think it's pretty slick when you consider just 28 years ago we were amazed how our C64 would go 'I am the wordwizzard, welcome to my cave..' ( if any of you are old enough to remember..;^) )

Damn.. I am getting old for sure..

Next step is having Watson's replacement play FPS online against humans...

What about the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything? What would it say then?

Odom said,
What about the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything? What would it say then?

He would answer 42. But the big thing is not the answer, but the question (like Jeopardy, where you have to give the question for a given answer )

sviola said,

He would answer 42. But the big thing is not the answer, but the question (like Jeopardy, where you have to give the question for a given answer )

Watson would have to answer "What is 42?" ... and Watson would be correct. I think that was an actual Jeopardy question a long time ago, though it was worded "According to the Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy, this is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything" or something like that

bushbrother said,
42?

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It is the "Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything".

Why can`t they make it more interesting, like if the computer gets it wrong it loses a rack of servers, whereas if a competitor gets it wrong they lose a finger/thumb!
They both have ten right

Can`t see many applying though

Riggers said,
Why can`t they make it more interesting, like if the computer gets it wrong it loses a rack of servers, whereas if a competitor gets it wrong they lose a finger/thumb!
They both have ten right

Can`t see many applying though

Why would someone participate in a show where answering wrong a question will result in limb severing? You should definitively stop watching the SAW movies...

I don't think this is impressive as it seems personally. It sounds good on paper, but is it linked to the internet for example? If so, that proves an unfair advantage.

I think someone made a good point in the forums that jeopardy isn't a particular good test, but something like University Challenge might be instead.

Singh400 said,
I don't think this is impressive as it seems personally. It sounds good on paper, but is it linked to the internet for example? If so, that proves an unfair advantage.

I think someone made a good point in the forums that jeopardy isn't a particular good test, but something like University Challenge might be instead.

Isnt this better then it was when they first attempted something like this? The thing is that its progressing, soon it will have every question answered and the human opponents will either be at $0 or in the negatives.

Singh400 said,
I don't think this is impressive as it seems personally. It sounds good on paper, but is it linked to the internet for example? If so, that proves an unfair advantage.

I think someone made a good point in the forums that jeopardy isn't a particular good test, but something like University Challenge might be instead.

Not really considering what its doing. It is not just getting fed an equation that it can instantly answer correctly. Even Google can't give an answer for a question that isn't common. It still takes a person going through the results of the search query to decide what the answer is. Example: "who was the last person to win the winston cup" Google will give you results that have the answer, but won't actually tell you the answer. Watson was giving answers to a question, not links to a web page that may or may not contain an answer.

but is it linked to the internet for example? If so, that proves an unfair advantage.

No, Watson is not connected. Also it would take too long to search information on the internet.

Singh400 said,
I don't think this is impressive as it seems personally. It sounds good on paper, but is it linked to the internet for example? If so, that proves an unfair advantage.

I think someone made a good point in the forums that jeopardy isn't a particular good test, but something like University Challenge might be instead.

You have a very poor grasp on the complexity of the problem. It has to come up with a statistically significant answer based on the question. YOU can type in a Google search and find the answer YOU are looking for. It is an entirely different problem all together for a computer to understand the question and find the right answer. The majority of the complexity is wrapped in **understanding** the question. Jeopardy questions are VERY difficult for a machine to even being to understand.

Being connected to the Internet wouldn't make any difference when it comes to the complexity of the problem which is language skills and common sense. Something computers up until now have had 0, zilch, none, nothing.

Edited by Shadrack, Feb 16 2011, 4:26pm :

Greenix said,

No, Watson is not connected. Also it would take too long to search information on the internet.

he has dial up maybe?

Singh400 said,
I don't think this is impressive as it seems personally. It sounds good on paper, but is it linked to the internet for example? If so, that proves an unfair advantage.

I think someone made a good point in the forums that jeopardy isn't a particular good test, but something like University Challenge might be instead.

"As host Alex Trebek pointed out, Watson is not connected to the Internet."
Source: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2380351,00.asp

Singh400 said,
I don't think this is impressive as it seems personally. It sounds good on paper, but is it linked to the internet for example? If so, that proves an unfair advantage.

I think someone made a good point in the forums that jeopardy isn't a particular good test, but something like University Challenge might be instead.

As others mentioned, no, its not connected to the internet, not that that matters since it has terabytes of data local. The complexity isn't in the fact that it has the data and.can return it quickly, it's the fact that it can be given a question and it can understand the human language. The questions aren't preprogrammed into it. Imagine asking a computer "how old are you?" If you haven't programmed the system to look for that question, its quite impressive when it can understand what you are asking by itself. Now apply that to the types of riddles that you may hear in Jeopardy questions, and you can understand how impressive its language processing really is.