IBM Super Computer Brain Defeats Jeopardy! Champs

Dennis Faas's picture

In the end, the battle between man and machine wasn't much of a battle at all -- Watson, the IBM supercomputer specially engineered to squash humans at trivia, earlier this week easily defeated the game show Jeopardy!'s two most prolific players, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Now, the question becomes: what's next for IBM's Watson?

Earlier this week the long-running and very popular trivia TV show Jeopardy! switched things up by replacing one of its human competitors with a computer built by IBM. There were three intense days of competition between Watson, Jennings and Rutter (the two human contestants having already racked up $3 million each in previous winnings), but in the end the computer came out on top, racking up a score of $77,147.

By comparison, Jennings finished with $24,000 and Rutter $21,600.

Humans Welcome "Computer Overlords"

In exciting fashion, Watson ran up the score on the final day by risking $17,000 on the Final Jeopardy answer "William Wilkinson's 'An account of the principalities of Wallachia and Modavia' inspired this author's most famous novel." Watson knew the correct response was "Who is Bram Stoker?" (known best for Dracula). For the record, both Jennings and Rutter answered correctly as well. (Source:

Reaction to Watson's domination was received in good spirits by his human rivals. Jennings, for one, said he "welcomes our new computer overlords."

Watson Has Future in Medicine

So, what's next up for Watson?

It appears the trivia Terminator will use its powers for good; IBM says it plans to combine the computer's Deep Question Answering (QA) technology, Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning capabilities with cutting-edge speech recognition software to provide medical research centers and hospitals with better access to patient information and medical data.

"Watson's ability to analyze the meaning and context of human language, and quickly process information to find precise answers can assist decision makers, such as physicians and nurses," IBM representatives said. "[It can] unlock important knowledge and facts buried within huge volumes of information, and offer answers they may not have considered to help validate their own ideas or hypotheses." (Source:

IBM says the medical industry could be home to new products using Watson-esque technology by as early as 2013.

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