Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Forget 2012 - the end of the world is coming February 14...

...that's when an IBM computer named Watson will take on two Jeopardy champions for domination of the world - at least the game show world.

I first heard about it last fall, but now the real deal is only two weeks away.

Here's a quick summary from Informationweek.com:

IBM has spent four years and untold hundreds of millions of dollars developing Watson, a computer that can play Jeopardy. In fact, Watson answers questions so quickly and accurately that IBM challenged Jeopardy and two of the show's all-time champions to a match. Jeopardy's producers and the human contestants agreed. Taping took place January 14, and the three computer-vs.-human episodes will air February 14-16. Cynics may call it a publicity stunt, but the project has brought real advances in computer science. If IBM's previous (chess-playing) Deep Blue and (genetics-studying) Blue Gene supercomputers are any indication, advances in what IBM calls deep question-and-answer analytics could show up in the real world within three to five years.

For complete information, see the article here.

What's it mean for the real world?

From Doug Henschen at InformationWeek: As Director of IBM Research John Kelly noted, there could be no higher calling than the promise of medical breakthroughs and saving lives, so let's hope the teachings of Watson become elementary within a few short years. In the shorter term, the prizes at stake in the Jeopardy IBM challenge are $1 million for first place, $300,000 for second place and $200,000 for third place. IBM has agreed to give 100% of Watson's winnings and Jennings and Rutter have agreed to give 50% of their winnings to charity. Watson couldn't be more selfless.

Double Jeopardy, anyone?

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