Tuesday, April 28, 2009

IBM Set to Take on "Jeopardy!"

Not satisfied with winning chess matches against humans, IBM is set to take on the game show "Jeopardy!"

According to a Monday press release, IBM has been (over the last two years) developing a question-answer system it has dubbed "Watson." Researchers believe that "Watson" will be able to understand complex questions and answer with enough precision and speed to compete on Jeopardy!

In fact, "understanding" will be the key. Definitely "Watson" could "chime in" before a human could, but assuming that all things are equal and "Watson" has to hear or "read" the question, it's understanding a natural language question that will be at the heart of the system's performance.

Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said:
“The essence of making decisions is recognizing patterns in vast amounts of data, sorting through choices and options, and responding quickly and accurately. Watson is a compelling example of how the planet – companies, industries, cities – is becoming smarter. With advanced computing power and deep analytics, we can infuse business and societal systems with intelligence. This project is the latest example of IBM’s longstanding commitment to fundamental research and to overcoming ‘grand challenges’ in science and technology.”
Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman, CEO and President, Sony Corporation said:
"Jeopardy! is a world-renowned Sony property, and the gold standard for savvy game players everywhere. It is the perfect platform on which IBM can demonstrate its computing power. Winning on Jeopardy! is a challenge that audiences embrace every night in record numbers, and we are delighted to be able to expand the form and the possibilities through this exciting new project.”
I'd like to see "Watson" take on Ken Jennings, if they are going to do this. Watch the announcement in a video "hosted" by "Jeopardy!" host Alex Trebek:

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