Today is the final game of Jeopardy! where the IBM supercomputer Watson plays against two of the best human players to ever compete on the show. Folks on the East Coast already know the outcome by now, so feel free to ruin the suspense in the comments below for those of us in later time zones. But whatever the outcome, Watson's performance has been pretty interesting to watch. And let's hope these supercomputers don't start playing thermonuclear war any time soon. In the meantime, here are some links on AI beating humans at other games and tests.
In April of 2009, we wrote about how IBM was working on a new computer, called Watson, that would be able to compete on the game show Jeopardy. It was no chess playing computer, but it was still an interesting project. Apparently, it's advanced enough that it's scheduled for its first appearance on the show, this upcoming February (Valentines Day -- so romantic), where it will take on two of the most successful Jeopardy contestants ever. While it might seem simple -- you just have to load up the machine with a ton of trivia -- it's a bit more complicated than that, because the Jeopardy "clues," can be a bit tricky, often using "subtle meanings and riddles." Apparently, those things have still been stumping Watson in testing. The report notes: "Watson had some trouble recognizing double meanings and sometimes confused fiction as fact." In other words, this actually is an attempt to push computer natural language recognition tools forward.