Computer creams human 'Jeopardy!' champs

An IBM computer creamed two human champions on the popular US television game show "Jeopardy!" Wednesday in a triumph of artificial intelligence.

"I for one welcome our new computer overlords," contestant Ken Jennings - who holds the "Jeopardy!" record of 74 straight wins - cheekily wrote on his answer screen at the conclusion of the much-hyped three-day showdown.

"Watson" - named after Thomas Watson, the founder of the US technology giant - made some funny flubs in the game, but prevailed by beating his human opponents to the buzzer again and again.

The final tally from the two games: Watson at $77,147, Jennings at $24,000 and $21,600 for reigning champion Brad Rutter, who previously won a record $3.25 million on the quiz show.

"Watson is fast, knows a lot of stuff and can really dominate a match," host Alex Trebek said at the opening of Wednesday's match.

Watson, which was not connected to the Internet, played the game by crunching through multiple algorithms at dizzying speed and attaching a percentage score to what it believed was the correct response.

"Jeopardy!", which first aired on US television in 1964, tests a player's knowledge in a range of categories, from geography to politics to history to sports and entertainment.

In a twist on traditional game play, contestants are provided with clues and need to supply the questions.

The complex language of the brain-teasers meant Watson didn't merely need to have access to a vast database of information, it also had to understand what the clue meant.

One impressive display came when Watson answered "What is United Airlines" to the clue "Nearly 10 million YouTubers saw Dave Carrol's clip called this 'friendly skies' airline 'breaks guitars.'"

But a Final Jeopardy flub on Tuesday's show prompted one IBM engineer to wear a Toronto Blue Jays jacket to the final day of taping and Trebek to joke that he had learned the Canadian metropolis was a US city.

Watson had answered "What is Toronto????" to the question: "Its largest airport is named for a WWII hero. Its second largest, for a WWII battle" under the category "US Cities."

Jennings and Rutter both gave Chicago as the correct answer.

Watson's success was a remarkable achievement and a historic moment for artificial intelligence, said Oren Etzioni, a computer science professor at the University of Washington.

"Jeopardy! is a particularly difficult form of natural language because it's so open-ended and it's so full of puns and quirky questions," he told AFP.

But while Watson was impressive, he's still light years away from the kind of interactive, thinking computers imagined by science fiction, like the murderous Hal in the film "2001: A Space Odyssey."

"The day where robots will keep us as pets is still very far away," Etzioni said.

That's because Watson can't really think for itself or even fully understand the questions, and instead "employs a lot of tricks and special cases to do what it's doing," he said.

The next step is to see how this technology can be used in applications with real economic and social impacts.

Watson, which has been under development at IBM Research labs in New York since 2006, is the latest machine developed by IBM to challenge mankind.

In 1997, an IBM computer named "Deep Blue" defeated world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a closely-watched, six-game match.

Like Deep Blue, Watson "represents a major leap in the capacity of information technology systems to identify patterns, gain critical insight and enhance decision making," IBM chairman Sam Palmisano said in a promotional video.

"We expect the science underlying Watson to elevate computer intelligence, take human to computer communication to new levels and to help extend the power of advanced analysts to make sense of vast quantities of structured and unstructured data."

IBM already has plans to apply the technology to help doctors track patients and stay up to date on rapidly evolving medical research.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy