IBM's “New Computer Overlord” Watson Conquers “Jeopardy!”

Humans crushed by ultimate trivia machine

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    In this undated publicity image released by Jeopardy Productions, Inc., host Alex Trebek, left, poses with contestants Ken Jennings, center, and Brad Rutter and a computer named Watson in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. On Monday, Feb. 14, 2011, "Jeopardy!" will begin airing two matches spread over three days between Jennings, Rutter and Watson, who was developed by IBM scientists.

    If only there were extra points for good sportsmanship.

    Ken Jennings, the “Jeopardy!” wunderkund who once won 74 games in a row on ABC’s long-running trivia show, bowed out gracefully with a "Simpsons" reference after losing a three day (but two game) tournament to IBM supercomputer “Watson” on Wednesday.

    “I for one welcome our new computer overlord,” Jennings wrote underneath his answer for the final clue of the night.

    On Wednesday's broadcast, Jennings soared ahead of Watson in the opening round after betting everything he had on his first Daily Double. But he fell behind in Double Jeopardy, as Watson landed on two Daily Doubles.

    Jennings and fellow “Jeopardy!” champion Brad Rutter scored the correct answer in Final Jeopardy. So did Watson.

    The machine, which had crushed its competition on Tuesday's show, won the entire tournament with a combined two-day total of $77,147. Jennings came in second with $24,000 and Rutter third with $21,600.

    Jennings was awarded a $300,000 prize while Rutter won $200,000.

    An IBM vice president said the company would donate Watson’s $1 million grand prize to two charities, World Vision and World Community Grid.

    Watson’s path to victory was not without some hiccups. On Tuesday, the computer was asked in Final Jeopardy which U.S. city's "largest airport is named for a World War II hero; its second largest for a World War II battle.”

    “What is Toronto?????” Watson answered. The correct response was Chicago, though it didn’t matter the computer lost the round because its wager was so little and its lead massive.

    Watson had a leg up by being able to buzz in an answer in 10 miliseconds, but the machine’s human rivals did not cry foul, according to the New York Times.

    “I beat Watson a couple of times,” Rutter told the paper.

    Jennings said he would do the competition again “in a heartbeat,” according to the Times.

    “It’s not about the results,” he said. “This is about being part of the future.”

    IBM execs told the Times they plan to announce this week new collaborations in the medical field and were in talks with an electronics company to market a Watson-inspired product to help consumers make buying decision and with tech support.

    Selected ReadingNYT, USA Today, Jeopardy!, Cosmic Log