IBM bored of chess, taking on Jeopardy. Wheel of Fortune next?

After tackling the world's Chess Grandmaster's, IBM has set its sights on a new and arguably more complicated game: Jeopardy.

Chess moves and strategy are computable through algorithms and mathematics, but IBM's Watson is looking to compete on a more human level. The game show announced on Tuesday that it will be pitting Jeopardy stars, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter against the Power7 server that's been optimized for processing complex questions and giving answers quickly.

"After four years, our scientific team believes that Watson is ready for this challenge based on its ability to rapidly comprehend what the 'Jeopardy!' clue is asking, analyze the information it has access to, come up with precise answers, and develop an accurate confidence in its response, Beyond our excitement for the match itself, our team is very motivated by the possibilities that Watson's breakthrough computing capabilities hold for building a smarter planet and helping people in their business tasks and personal lives."

The team is confident that they have a real competitor on their hands as the machine has already passed the qualifier and has even competed against former Jeopardy players. Brad Rutter (who's won 3.2 million) and Ken Jennings (who racked up a 74 game winning streak) are the game's star players and IBM is ready for the challenge.

The showdown takes place between Feb 14-16 2011 and will be a charity match. The winner will take home $1,000,000 USD while $300,000 and $200,000 are up for grabs for the runners-up. Both human stars have pledged that they will donate half of their winnings to charity, while IBM will donate 100%.

This competition and the associated development is extremely interesting as a similar project, Wolfram Alpha, has been parsing general English questions and displaying the relevant answers. Watson is taking this to the next level by parsing complicated plain english questions, researching on the fly and then displaying an answer in proper Jeopardy format. It will be interesting to see what else the team can come up with, as far as real world uses are concerned.


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