IBM's Watson Aims To Prove Its Intelligence On Jeopardy!

from the the-only-winning-move-is-not-to-play? dept

The world of supercomputing and artificial intelligence has always been fascinated with games like chess, Go and poker -- where evaluating strategies for winning could be approached using vast computational resources. Another historical challenge for AI projects is the classic Turing Test, which requires an understanding of human communication in order to pass the test. So it's interesting to see IBM starting a project called Watson (named after IBM's founder, not Sherlock's assistant) to create a computer to compete on Jeopardy! against human contestants -- because doing so combines the goals of natural language processing and strategic game planning.

Obviously, though, Watson is more of a product demonstration than a serious research project to advance the field of computer science, but it's still a brilliant move, nonetheless, since the effort can be understood by anyone who watches popular game shows, and at the same time, the project studies a practical problem for algorithms. However, the game of Jeopardy! is somewhat trivial (no pun intended, honest) since Jeopardy's given answers all have matching questions -- and it doesn't really require true comprehension to guess (apparently, human contestants respond correctly about 85% of the time). Granted, Jeopardy! is a bit harder to play than Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, but Alex Trebek doesn't seem quite as computationally demanding as search engines can be (unless you count the audio/video Daily Doubles?). Still, IBM should be applauded for supporting its research as eye-catching PR campaigns -- while other companies like Microsoft are getting more attention for downsizing their research divisions.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 5:09am

    Is there a time limit on choosing the next question?

    I would read the article, but it is NYT - registration

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 5:19am

    "Still, IBM should be applauded for supporting its research as eye-catching PR campaigns -- while other companies like Microsoft are getting more attention for downsizing their research divisions."

    IBM recently cut 5000 US employees. Transferring jobs and customer accounts to India/Brazil/Malaysia.... They are a horrible corporate citizen and are led entirely by self serving greedy executives who only care enough to keep IBM afloat to continue to line their own pockets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 5:25am

    Re:

    "led entirely by self serving greedy executives who only care enough ... to continue to line their own pockets."

    Isn't this SOP in the business world?
    I think it is covered in BUS 101.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    CastorTroy-Libertarian, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 5:27am

    And so Sky-net is born...

    Sorry some one had to say it :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Brad Allen, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    IBM's Watson Aims To Prove Its Intelligence On Jeopardy!

    Sorry, This entire story has been outsouced. No coverage in the USA.

    Thats ok though IBM will still make money.(For those of you that dont get it that is called sarcasm)

     

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  6.  
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    Tgeigs, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    Hmmm

    Unless Watson says things like "Suck it, Trebek" or "Moo, that's the sound your mother made last night", I'll leave the Jeapordy to my Grandmother...

     

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  7.  
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    Alejandro, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 6:51am

    IBM vs MS

    We are talking about IBM here, a real IT enterprise that could be defined one of a very small group of companies that founded the IT world as we know today. Microsoft, instead... IMHO has very little to say about innovation. It's a shame that young people tend to see MS as "God" and didn't even know about Big Blue. Or am I getting old?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 8:01am

    Re:

    Delete your cookies or sign up. Either way... come on man

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Chris, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:02am

    This isn't new

    I don't understand why this is new. If you've ever played any of the Jeopardy! video games (I used to on the Playstation 1), you can play with 1 or 2 players, and the remaining players are played by the computer. I don't see what's so exciting about this.

     

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  10.  
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    mikeho, Apr 28th, 2009 @ 10:27am

    Re: This isn't new

    The existing Jeopardy! video game presumably "cheats" by having access to both the questions and answers -- so the computer player can get get any percentage of responses correct that it is programmed to.

    Watson isn't rigged in that way. This Watson computer system will try to interpret the answers and come up with its own answers, so that it's playing fairly against human contestants. It's possible that the program will just guess gibberish and only occasionally get a correct response.

     

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  11.  
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    Anurakshat Gupta, Apr 29th, 2009 @ 7:27am

    Project Watson

    This IS exciting.
    We at International Quizzing Association are very excited by this development. This should be quite a challenge in future.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 5:33am

    Now that watson has won jeopardy it time for him to win who wants to be a millionaire(get regis to host it).

    More Watson appearances=more people running World community grid. It's a shame they never took a few minutes to talk about WCG instead of Watson on jeopardy.
    http://www.itnewsonline.com/showprnstory.php?storyid=144786

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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