I'll Take "The Future is Now" for 500, Alex.

In 1997, "Deep Blue" - an IBM supercomputer - successfully defeated World Champion chess master Gary Kasparov. It was revolutionary at the time. Today, we can play chess on our iPhones and we think nothing of it.

Well this month (February 14-16 to be exact), IBM will attempt to wow us again. "Watson", the newest supercomputer from IBM, will take on Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in the Jeopardy IBM Challenge. What makes this competition so incredible is the scope and breadth of information Watson must be able to access. As we all know, categories in Jeopardy run the gamut and the clues given are in answer form and sometimes include puns and hidden hints.

Watson will process all this information through voice recognition. No one will type in the clues for Watson. The computer will simply "listen" to Alex Trebek and analyze its extensive database, buzz in, and deliver the response in the form of a question.

Ask me, and this is a little scary! This is artificial intelligence like we've not seen before. Visions of HAL from "2001: A Space Odyssey" come to mind.

A trial run (linked below) shows that Watson can hold his own against the human champs. We'll see how he does over a full three day tournament later this month.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFR3lOm_xhE, Accessed February 2, 2011

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