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IBM's "Watson" computer beats human players in Jeopardy

By January 17, 2011news

After years of planning, IBM’s learning, human-aware computer Watson was put to a competition like no other – a match of Jeopardy against quiz show heavyweights Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. The result – Watson won. Barely.

The match, which Watson has been training for since 2009, was officially announced last year.  At the end of last week, the multi-episode feature where Watson faces off against Jennings and Rutter was filmed.

But right before that, all three competed in a trial run at IBM’s headquarters in New York State. The trial lasted as long as a normal game of Jeopardy would before its first commercial break – in other words, about enough time for the contestants to get through half of a round.

Right before the last clue of the round, Jennings and Watson were tied at $3,400. However, Watson chimed in to answer the final question and correctly identified the children’s book Harold and the Purple Crayon. That set him ahead to $4,400. Rutter trailed at $1,200.

The full-length Jeopardy matches have been filmed, but no one is allowed to discuss the results. They’ll be aired on TV next month, and at that time we’ll really know who wins in the battle of man versus machine.