IBM computer wins Jeopardy in match against champions

Donovan Sanders

I’ll take artificial intelligence for $77,147, Alex.

That’s how much IBM supercomputer Watson earned over the course of two games when he defeated two “Jeopardy!” champs, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter this week. Watson came out $53,147 ahead of second place Jennings’ two-game total.

Watson is an intellectual question-and-answer system with a command of natural language. It can simultaneously launch hundreds of information-seeking algorithms, making it fast and efficient. The screen that represented him on Jeopardy is not the actual computer — it is just a representation of a much larger computer.

His display has different avatars that show how Watson felt at that particular moment. Different colors and movements show how confident Watson was when answering a question. Watson didn’t lead the whole game. He was tied with Rutter after round one, fell behind during the second round and came back for a victory in the third.

UT Computer Sciences Chair Bruce Porter did fundamental research in programming computers to read and understand text. His research helped lead to the programs that IBM used to build Watson. Porter is one of three UT professors whose research IBM credits in the Watson project.

“For this generation of young people, seeing Watson winning ‘Jeopardy!’ is similar to my generation watching the lunar landing,” Porter said.

Watson’s $1 million winnings will go to charity, according to the IBM website.