Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Watson On Watson: Final Jeopardy!

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SPOILER ALERT: Once again, I’m reporting out on the tidings from the Watson v. Jeopardy! “Man v. Machine” matches that has so captured the Web’s attention these past few days.  Read no further if you don’t wish to yet know the outcome.

It’s official: Watson smoked the humans.  I’m officially adding an exclamation to Watson’s name so he can hereafter be referred to as “Watson!” with an exclamation point.

For those of us inside IBM, again, the surprise is as fresh for us as all of you in the viewing audience.  I honestly had no clue who would take it.  Jennings and Rutter are formidable competitors.

But Watson! was just too clever and too fast for we mere mortals.

Alex Trebek said it best in the setup of today’s final episode as he explained the three things he’d learned over the last three days about Watson!:

  1. Watson! is fast.  He knows lots of stuff and can really dominate a match.
  2. Watson! is capable of some weird wagers.
  3. Toronto is now a U.S. city (see the 2nd day…this comment earned lots of laughs in the audience).

I would add that Watson! isn’t a static entity, but can learn and make smart, deductive predictions both about the success in answering the questions, but to the point of the weird wagers, in “betting” only as much as was needed to take and/or keep his lead.

Watson won the turn and got off to business very quickly, answering a question on the EU, “What is Istanbul?” to get off to a $200 start.

Jennings showed some promise at taking over mid-round, but Watson! came roaring back and ended his combined score at over $77,000, winning the full match.

Jennings and Rutter were both great sports, and all three were able to make significant contributions to the charities of their choice (IBM contributed $1,000,000 to the World Community Grid).

The real question now is, what have we learned?

First, we learned that computers, trained by humans, can outsmart the humans.

But more importantly, we learned we’re now on the precipice of a whole new wave of computing and information technology, one that could very well help mankind arrive at more answers than questions.

In some future posts, I’ll address some of the opportunities and challenges this technology presents to the world, as well as highlight some of those from related media.

Let’s start with this video: Watson! after Jeopardy!

Written by turbotodd

February 16, 2011 at 11:22 pm

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