Inside Watson, IBM's Jeopardy Computer
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. Here's a look inside the architecture, hardware, and advanced analytics that make Watson tick.