The IBM Challenge

Technology has taken a new turn; meet Super Watson. The IBM computer, facing-off with all-time Jeopardy champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, is a spectacle all must see. Monday, February 14th was the first night of the 3-part run of the IBM Challenge. It took master-minds at IBM centuries to uncover and perfect profound technology in order to perform what they call ‘Grand Challenges’. It was their goal to invent a machine that could understand, analyze, and spit out answers. As seen in the IBM versus Jeopardy Challenge, their high standards were a bit undermined. On Monday, Watson actually tied with one of ‘its’ opponents, a glitch IBM was not expecting. However, viewers were intrigued and spoke fervently about our new computer friend Watson. As the show began, Alex Trebeck gave a little history on Watson and the origins of the Jeopardy-IMB Challenge. A computer much too large to fit on stage, Watson was in fact a downsized replica. With the innate abilities to understand the ‘human language’, viewers watched in amazement, tweeting instantaneously. Throughout the show, Watson answered correctly most of the time. An interesting moment though, was the repeat of answer already established as being wrong by Trebek. “What is 1920s?” Watson said, sounding like a digitized Matthew Broderick. “No,” game-show host Alex Trebek replied. “Ken said that.” This is was later explained by Steve Camepa, IBM’s general manager of global media and the entertainment industry when he stated, “Watson only takes his input from the question board so the fact that somebody else gave the same answer doesn’t factor into what Watson says. He can’t hear what the other players are saying, but maybe that’s a feature we can add in the future.” In other words, Watson can not hear or see anything. Overall, I’d say the challenge went smoothly, even if a few glitches were seen. Hopefully tonight and tomorrow will bring even more excitement to everyone’s favorite game show Jeopardy! By: Lauren Fleishman