Greatest Jeopardy! Champions vs. Watson the IBM Supercomputer

Thursday, December 16, 2010

On February 14th-16th next year, Jeopardy! will hold a contest between an IBM supercomputer dubbed Watson and two of the show's greatest winners of all-time, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. This is the first man vs. machine contest in Jeopardy! history and after 4 years of development, Watson promises to showcase man's most sophisticated computer programming to date. This match comes 13 years after the world chess champion was successfully defeated by an IBM computer. Yet, "analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other complexities" makes this challenge markedly more difficult than the game of chess.

IBM's Watson vs. Jennings & Rutter

Human #1: Ken Jennings: record-holder for most consecutive wins with 74 games, $2.5 million in total winnings

Human #2: Brad Rutter: record-holder for highest cumulative amount won, $3.255 million in total winnings

Machine: Watson: "the most ambitious foray into deep analytics and natural language processing"

The game of Jeopardy! is an ideal ground for competition against humans because it combines four key elements: 1) A large swath of topics and information, 2) the nuance of human language, 3) the need for rapid processing speed and, 4) a confidence measurement because of point deductions for incorrect answers.

Kasparov vs. Deep Blue

Remember man vs. machine in the chess world? The project of creating a computer to beat the greatest human chess player began with the 1989 match of Deep Thought vs. World Champion Garry Kasparov. Deep Thought was handily defeated. IBM went back to work and developed Deep Blue, a true competitor to Kasparov.

In February 1996, Deep Blue became the first computer to best the world' reigning world chess champion in the first match of a six-match series. But, Kasparov went on to win the next 3 out of 5 matches to win the series and humans were declared the winner.

Back once again to the drawing board, IBM programmers created the next version, nicknamed Deeper Blue, to take on Kasparov in February 1997. Even though Kasparov won the opening match, Deep Blue won the second to even it out. Then, incredibly, the next three games came to a draw. Deep Blue went on to win the sixth match and was declared the winner and the first computer to even defeat the current world champion chess player.

Kasparov accused IBM developers of cheating claiming the programmers must have intervened during the game, which was against the rules for they could only adjust the code between matches. IBM denied the allegations and refused Kasparov when he demanded a rematch. (Source)

Brandon R. Rowley
"Chance favors the prepared mind."

*DISCLOSURE: No relevant position
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