April 27, 2009
IBM has unveiled a computer that's designed to match wits with Jeopardy quizmaster Alex Trebek.
In development for two years, IBM's Question Answering (QA) system -- code-named Watson -- is built to comprehend and respond to complex questions covering a range of subjects, including history, politics, film, and pop culture. Jeopardy "poses a grand challenge for a computing system due to the variety of subject matter, the speed at which contestants must provide accurate responses, and because the clues given to contestants involve analyzing subtle meaning, ironies, riddles, and other complexities at which humans excel and computers traditionally do not," IBM said in a statement. "The essence of making decisions is recognizing patterns in vast amounts of data, sorting through choices and options, and responding quickly and accurately," said IBM CEO Sam Palmisano. "Watson is a compelling example of how the planet -- companies, industries, cities -- is getting smarter. With advanced computing power and deep analytics, we can infuse business and societal systems with intelligence," said Palmisano. "This project is the latest example of IBM's longstanding commitment to fundamental research and overcoming grand challenges in science and technology," said Palmisano. Jeopardyproducer Sony plans on airing an episode of the show that will pit IBM's technology against human players. Sony CEO Howard Stringer said Jeopardy is "the gold standard for savvy game players everywhere. It is the perfect platform on which IBM can demonstrate its computing power." Jeopardy is no stranger to the high-tech world. The show has been taped from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and it was the first syndicated program to appear in high definition.
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