Is Watson the smartest machine on earth?
Posted Thursday, February 10th, 2011

IBM Watson on Jeopardy


Next week IBM's Watson system will try to establish its claim to be the world's smartest computer in a Jeopardy! challenge against two of the best human players. The three matches will be broadcast on CBS on February 14, 15 and 16. Watson's competition will be the biggest all-time Jeopardy money winner Brad Rutter ($3.2M) and Ken Jennings, who holds the record holder for winning the most consecutive games (74). See the Jeopardy! for their perspective on this match.





Watson and the match was the subject of PBS NOVA episode #3808, Smartest Machine On Earth which was broadcast last night. If you missed it as I did :-( you can see it tonight (Thursday February 10) in the Baltimore-DC area at 11:00pm on WETA2.

Watson is a result of IBM's DeepQA Project whose goal is to develop "a computer system that can directly and precisely answer natural language questions over an open and broad range of knowledge". According to IBM:

"Watson is an application of advanced natural language processing, information retrieval, knowledge representation and reasoning, and machine learning technologies to the field of open domain question answering. At its core, Watson is built on IBM's DeepQA technology for hypothesis generation, massive evidence gathering, analysis, and scoring. Watson is a workload optimized system designed for complex analytics, made possible by integrating massively parallel POWER7 processors and the IBM DeepQA software to answer Jeopardy! questions in under three seconds. Watson is made up of a cluster of ninety IBM Power 750 servers (plus additional I/O, network and cluster controller nodes in 10 racks) with a total of 2880 POWER7 processor cores and 16 Terabytes of RAM. Each Power 750 server uses a 3.5 GHz POWER7 eight core processor, with four threads per core. The POWER7 processor's massively parallel processing capability is an ideal match for Watson's IBM DeepQA software which is embarrassingly parallel (that is a workload that executes multiple threads in parallel).

Add your comments to say who you think will win the Jeopardy! IBM Challenge and if this is a good test of intelligence.

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