IBM’s ‘Watson’ to take on humans on TV quiz show

By : |April 28, 2009 0

WASHINGTON, USA: IBM, which has taken on the grandmasters of chess in the past, is creating another episode in the history of man versus machine, as it is turning its attention to the US television quiz show Jeopardy!

It released on Monday the details of an advanced computing system that will be able to compete with humans on Jeopardy!. Moreover, the officials from Jeopardy! announced their plans to produce a human vs. machine competition on the renowned show.

IBM said its scientists have been working on a highly advanced Question Answering (QA) system, codenamed "Watson", for nearly two years.

The scientists believe that the computing system will be able to understand complex questions and answer with enough precision and speed to compete on Jeopardy!, in which contestants provide question-formatted answers to clues on history, literature, politics, film, pop culture and science.

Unlike other quiz shows, Jeopardy! is considered a tougher challenge for a machine because the clues given to the human contestants involve "analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles and other complexities". But IBM is confident of facing the challenge.

“The essence of making decisions is recognizing patterns in vast amounts of data, sorting through choices and options, and responding quickly and accurately,” said Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer. “Watson is a compelling example of how the planet – companies, industries, cities – is becoming smarter.”

He said this project is the latest example of IBM’s longstanding commitment to fundamental research and to overcoming ‘grand challenges’ in science and technology.

“Jeopardy! is a world-renowned Sony property, and the gold standard for savvy game players everywhere. It is the perfect platform on which IBM can demonstrate its computing power,” said Sir Howard Stringer, chairman, CEO and president, Sony Corporation.

“Winning on Jeopardy! is a challenge that audiences embrace every night in record numbers, and we are delighted to be able to expand the form and the possibilities through this exciting new project.”

In 1997 IBM had created a computer named Deep Blue, which defeated Garry Kasparov, then world chess champion, in a celebrated man-versus-machine match.

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