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Watson wins

Ken Jennings, the human champion, capitulates. (Click on image to see video.) Image courtesy IBM

Last August, iSGTW's story "Move over Big Blue, Watson is here" described how IBM's supercomputer, named Watson, would soon be going up against humans in the television game show Jeopardy.

In the show, contestants compete to answer a series of increasingly difficult trivia questions, on a wide range of topics.

It's a difficult challenge in the realm of artificial intelligence, as the questions often contain puns and plays on words. In addition, computers often don't have the vast knowledge base that we humans rely upon when confronted with the real world, and little sense of context.

For example, said Markus Waibel from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in an interview with World Radio Switzerland, humans see an association between objects such as refrigerators and milk bottles, and while we are not surprised to see a milk bottle come out of a refrigerator, we would be surprised to see a giraffe emerge when we open the refrigerator door. To a computer, however, both objects are equally likely.

To make things more difficult, Watson would be going up against not just any contestant, but against the best player in "Jeopardy" history - Ken Jennings, who won 74 games in a row in 2004.

On February 16, 2011, they had the big event, which was about more than just Jeopardy, wrote PC World.

Who won?

Well, in his last answer, Jennings playfully wrote: "I for one welcome our new computer overlords."

The website i Programmer wrote that Jennings displayed one human quality still absent in Watson: a sense of humor.

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