Thursday, December 16, 2010

IBM Computer to Play Jeopardy VS Jeopardy Champs

This is not Watson or HAL
I remember as a kid in the mid 60's watching a game show called Jeopardy, hosted by a guy named Art Fleming. I watched that show hundreds of times at my Grandma Shoemaker's house. It was, of course, in black and white, which is a strange thing to our children and grand children. A quick aside: last night my 8 year old daughter helped her 3 year old sister put a dvd in the player. Somehow or the other, the dvd played in black and white. Issy the 8n year old came to me and said, "Daddy, there's something wrong with Bailey's dvd player. It's all gray and this movie has colors in it." I was tickled, to say the least. But, I digress. Anyway, Jeopardy was in b & w and the monetary value of each category was, in order, $10, $20 up to $50. If I recall correctly, the second round categories were worth from $20 - $100. My, how times have changed.

More recently, Jeopardy has seen a guy win seventy-four straight games and another guy win over three million dollars. Now these two Jeopardy champions are going up against, possibly, their toughest opponent yet. His name is Watson. Watson is named after the founder of IBM, Thomas J. Watson. The modern day Watson is a super computer built by IBM to test a new system of artificial intelligence. This special edition of Jeopardy will be spread out over three days and will air on TV February 14-16, with the winner receiving a $1 million prize for his efforts.

Back in 1997, IBM built a computer that played chess matches against one of the greatest chess champions of all time, Gary Kasparov. That computer was capable of calculating 200 million chess moves per second! 
Watson has already played 55 games against past Jeopardy champions, but IBM ain't sayin' what results those test games have yielded, but they are confident that Watson will hold his own against his two human opponents.

This is kind of cool , yet a bit spooky that computers are so close to "thinking" like a human being. Let's just hope that Watson is not some precursor HAL from 2001:A Space Odyssey.

Because Toby said so. 

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